LFCC Name Change

Lord Fairfax Community College's board has selected Laurel Ridge Community College as the institution's new name. The name must still receive approval at the state level.

MIDDLETOWN — Lord Fairfax Community College is pressing forward to change its name after sharing how it came to the decision during an hour-long town hall held via Zoom and telephone Thursday night.

Nearly 110 people attended the event.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, a member of the LFCC College Board, told the audience it "wasn't a hasty decision."

"We had 50 wonderful years of Lord Fairfax," Freakley said about the college founded in Middletown in 1970. "And we honor and respect those years."

He continued that the decision was driven by a desire to make everyone feel welcome at LFCC moving forward.

"Like it or not, we are in an era of questioning, of asking about who is America, what do we stand for, what do we align ourselves with," Freakley said. "We respect the past, but where we are today is looking at the future."

Freakley said he's proud of the decision and that "it's time to move forward" and select a new name.

In February, following six months of study and discussions, the LFCC board voted 9-3 to seek a new name that better reflects the college's mission and values. The study was prompted by a July 2020 request from the State Board for Community Colleges asking all 23 Virginia community colleges to revisit their names. The request came as institutions across the U.S. were reconsidering names with racist ties following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Freakley emphasized that the decision to explore a name change was in response to the state-level request. Committees were formed to evaluate building names on LFCC campuses and the potential cost to change those names.

LFCC's namesake, Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was a slave owner who remained loyal to the British during the American Revolution. A Scot, he came to colonial America in the 18th century. From his home in White Post in Clarke County, he administered his vast Northern Neck Proprietary — a Virginia land grant dating back to the 1600s. At the time of his death, he owned at least 97 enslaved people. He is buried at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester.

Prior to the LFCC board vote earlier this year, a survey of staff, students, donors, alumni and some community members found that 90% of respondents knew nothing about Lord Fairfax. Once they learned about his history, an overwhelming majority indicated the name should be changed, Freakley said.

LFCC officials also evaluated the risks of changing the college's name, including potential impacts on student enrollment and possibly disassociating alumni, donors and former staff. 

Last week, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 to send a letter to the State Board for Community Colleges objecting to the name change.

LFCC President Kim Blosser acknowledged during the town hall that changing the college's name may feel "like a real loss" to former students and staff.

"For some of our alums and for some of our retirees, it will always be Lord Fairfax in their minds," Blosser said. "But for our new students and for moving forward and for our goal to always be inclusive and welcoming to all of our students, this new name is going to give us a new start and it's a new way to start our next 50 years."

The list of potential new names has been narrowed to five finalists: Valley & Vista Community College, Red Oak Community College, Laurel Ridge Community College, Valley & Ridge Community College and Newbridge Community College. 

Kelly O'Keefe, CEO of Brand Federation, who is working with LFCC during the renaming process, explained the new name must: have potential to unite the service region; honor the distinct beauty and culture of LFCC's service area; celebrate the unique background and experiences of each community college member; inspire student engagement and learning; communicate the timeless relevance befitting a high-quality educational institution; reflects the college's positive spirit and can-do values, and draw inspiration from the college's mission, vision and value — not an individual's name. 

O'Keefe said the new name should celebrate not just one person's accomplishments but the community's accomplishments as a whole. 

During the town hall, one person asked "how was community brought into this process without consulting the Board of Supervisors of each county before the decision to rename was made?"

LFCC serves Winchester and the counties of Frederick, Fauquier, Page, Shenandoah, Rappahannock, Clarke and Warren.

Blosser said there were community roundtable discussions and a survey sent out — LFCC announced the survey and review period to its 700 staff members — but she did not contact all the Boards of Supervisors during the study period.

Another person asked why the college did not better communicate to the community that it was exploring the option to change its name when it was surveying and researching the possibility for six months. 

Blosser replied that the college had to review an estimated 70 names on LFCC buildings at its multiple campuses in response to the state resolution. She said the college wanted its research to be thorough before making any public announcements to be sensitive to the other names being reviewed during the process.

"We did not put it in the newspaper that we were reviewing all names of the college, as much as anything because we were reviewing all names and people that were in our community that had names on some of our buildings," Blosser said. 

Blosser previously told The Star that it will cost between $115,400 to $297,950 to change LFCC's name. She said no local funds would go toward the renaming.

All community feedback from the town hall and online submissions will be presented to the LFCC naming task force on May 12. From there, the task force will narrow down the top five names to three and present them to Blosser. Those names will then go through a rigorous trademark review and then go to the State Board for Community Colleges for final review.

To submit questions or comments on the new name or renaming process, visit lfcc.edu/college-naming

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

(16) comments

Boz

DL:

Using your "logic" that "we've all done things in life that we regret," are you in favor of buildings or streets named after:

Charles Manson

Bernie Madoff

Robert Hanssen

John Wilkes Booth

Al Capone

Lee Harvey Oswald

G. Gordon Liddy

O.J. Simpson

James Earl Ray

Ted Kaczynski

Kenneth Lay

slowe

Yes, change the name - honor no slave owners or opposers of our revolution for independence! But, I don’t like any of those proposed names. How about Blue Ridge CC, or Shenandoah Valley CC, or Northern Virginia CC, or Apple Valley CC, or Belle Grove CC, or Valley Pike CC?

Old Western Man

Craven leadership genuflecting to a the radical mob is an all too common trait these days. Appeasing the perpetually offended will never satiate. While Lord Fairfax may not have any appeal to one’s privileged 21st century sensibilities, this cultural genocide movement will continue until it undoubtedly reaches a point where it does offend one’s respect for a cultural figure or name. How many of you are willing to surrender George Washington or the name Virginia under the vapid maxim of “ties to slavery”? I pray that these will be too difficult of a lift in my lifetime, but the precedent is set. Education is the battlefield to resist this noxious cultural fascism, if only we had more Churchills and fewer Chamberlains.

Chris 22602

He paid to rape women, so you’re cool with that and think that’s worthy of making an entire college in his honor?

Old Western Man

You toddlers are tiresomely predictable, but reframing what wasn’t said into a character attack plays well in the sewage media twitter-verse of modernity.

As clearly expressed one doesn’t have to be a special pleader for Lord Fairfax to be opposed to the ongoing cultural genocide accommodated by those in position who know better but lack prudence and fortitude.

As the basis of your allegation is oddly specific though, I’d be most interested in its ORIGINAL source. Not that it really matters, your feigned indignation is merely a convenient obfuscation to intimidate opinion under a patina of self virtue.

I know this, given the current slate of highly immoral Democrat office holders In Northam, Justin Fairfax, Herring, Biden, and Harris. Your virtue shaming lacks credibility.

Doc Samson

@OWM - Beautiful, sir! Simply beautiful! [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

BryanLNuri

So the anonymous troll is ok with rape when it happens a long time ago.

Got it.

Doc Samson

@Bryan - Got it? Oh my dude, you got less than nothing. But those of us capable of nuanced, rational thought do enjoy your special brand of brazen stupidity. Please, tell us more! [lol]

captain

Shameful. Learn Floyds HISTORY. So now we admire this hummmmmmmm

DL

Leave the name alone. We've all done things in life that we regret, but we don't change our names and many become successful. It's history, live with it and learn from it.

Blondie

When are they going to change the name of our state? I'm sure there must have been someone named Virginia in history that somebody can complain about.

StellaBob

Blondie....you be smart as a rock.

start a petition to change Virginia's name because you do not like Queen Elizabeth I. I'll sign it. I hate those virgins!

SJFRAME

StellaBob: Be careful, Blondie may be smarter than you think!!!! Blessings to all.

Chris 22602

Have you paid to rape women in your past? That’s the kind of thing we’re talking about here when you say “we’ve all done things”

Doc Samson

Better get to work protesting anything named after Clinton and Kennedy, right? Yeah, that's what I thought... [rolleyes]

Catherine Giovannoni

Good for the college. My bank has changed names a bunch of times since I first deposited my pay there as a young woman. The stadiums where our teams play change names with new corporate sponsorship. Washington National Airport became Ronald Reagan airport. Life went on. I look forward to seeing the college pick a new name.

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