LFCC’s growth puts it in select company
Posted: December 4, 2012
The Winchester Star
MIDDLETOWN — From the fall of 2010 to fall 2011, Lord Fairfax Community College was the fastest-growing two-year institution in the state and one of the top 50 fastest-growing of its size in the country.
Out of about 1,500 community colleges nationwide, LFCC enrollment grew 3.8 percent and was ranked 32nd among schools with enrollments of 5,000 to 9,999, according to Community College Week magazine.
Enrollment increased from 7,005 to 7,270 during that time.
Over the past three years, LFCC’s enrollment has increased more than 30 percent.
Current total enrollment is 7,400 over its three locations — Middletown, Luray-Page and Fauquier — which serve Winchester and Frederick, Clarke, Fauquier, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren counties.
This is the first time the school has placed in the top 50 in growth in its category.
“Our top priority is access to higher education,” said President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy. “We feel this [growth] is wonderful.”
Thompson-Stacy attributes the increase in enrollment to people seeking more affordable education (LFCC is about one-third the cost of a state university) during the economic downturn.
The majority of the college’s enrollment growth has been among 18- to 22-year-old students — many coming right out of high school.
To accommodate the growth, LFCC has hired about 15 to 20 additional adjunct faculty along with three full-time faculty members, allowing the school to keep class sizes about the same, Thompson-Stacy said.
More online courses have been added, and a new $9 million student union housing a fitness center, cafe, expanded bookstore and two classrooms will be open by January 2014 on the Middletown campus.
In the enrollment category of 5,000 to 9,999 students, the fastest-growing community college from fall 2010 to fall 2011 was Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, with a 20.7 percent in growth.
Germanna and Piedmont Virginia community colleges ranked 45th (2.6 percent growth rate) and 47th (2.4 percent), respectively in the same category. They are the only other schools of that size from Virginia’s 23 community colleges to make the list.
Thompson-Stacy said LFCC will continue to grow in the coming years.
“We expect growth, but not at the level its been in the past three years,” she said. “It will probably be more along a 2 percent growth rate.”
— Contact Rebecca Layne at email@example.com