MIDDLETOWN — A new name is being sought for Lord Fairfax Community College because its namesake was an 18th-century slave owner.

“I’ve said many times that his name is just not good enough for us,” LFCC President Kim Blosser said in a video message to faculty and staff about the decision. “We are much better than what [his] name would show.”

The community college, which opened in 1970 in Middletown, is named for Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax. The name was chosen in 1969 by the college’s original board as a nod to the region’s colonial American history. It also was chosen because it added consistency, as a regional planning body had adopted the name Lord Fairfax Planning District Commission.

Many people refer to the college simply as Lord Fairfax or LFCC.

But on Feb. 4 the college’s board voted to change the name, LFCC announced in a news release. The vote was 9-3. This followed six months of study, focus group discussions and the results of a brand research study. The undertaking was prompted by a resolution passed last July by the State Board for Community Colleges asking all Virginia community college to review their names. The request coincided with institutions across the country revisiting names with racist ties in the wake of protests against systemic racism and police brutality following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer who was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

The resolution stated “demonstrations are inspiring institutions in Virginia and beyond to examine, and in many cases exorcise, symbols of systemic racism that have existed in plain sight for years.”

On June 10, Shenandoah University in Winchester removed the name of former U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. from its business school over his opposition to public school desegregation in Virginia in the 1950s, an effort known as Massive Resistance.

Lord Fairfax was born in England in 1693 and later moved to America, where he owned more than 5 million acres that stretched from Virginia’s Northern Neck to what is now Pittsburgh. By the early 1740s, he had settled in White Post in Clarke County.

Despite being a friend and mentor to Founding Father George Washington, whom he hired as a young man to survey land, Lord Fairfax remained loyal to the British during the Revolutionary War. He died in 1781 and is buried at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester. At the time of his death, Lord Fairfax owned at least 97 enslaved persons.

“We considered the overall college branding with an eye to the future,” Mike Wenger, vice chair of LFCC’s board, said in the release about the renaming decision. “The process invited deliberations about the values we want to inculcate, the focus we hope the college brand projects, and the breadth of community reach we want to facilitate. Though this decision wasn’t easy, it was in many ways clear.”

Although Lord Fairfax owned all of the property in the college’s service region at the time of his death, neither he nor his family members had any connection to the college when it was founded more than 50 years ago. No money or land connected to him was donated to establish LFCC.

In fact, nine out of 10 people surveyed by the college did not know who Lord Fairfax was. And a study conducted by the college indicated that, regardless of race or age, once people learned about his life they were more supportive of a name change.

“Lord Fairfax doesn’t represent anything we are about,” Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, who represents Shenandoah County on the college’s board, said in the release. “Our students come to us from different backgrounds, but they value the opportunity presented by earning an education at LFCC.”

He added: “The college embraces inclusion, opportunity, equality, access to education, and helping students find their way forward. Our faculty is devoted to that. We want people to feel welcome where they serve and live, and if we exclude some part of our faculty and some part of our students, that’s not who we are, whether that exclusion is intentional or unintentional. I think for our students, for our faculty and for our future, it’s the right time to take this opportunity to rename the college and move forward, capturing all we have accomplished in the past and the bright future we have ahead.”

LFCC will spend the coming months searching for a new name thatwill serve as a welcoming beacon to all students and will give students and faculty pride, the release stated. The goal is for a task force made up of LFCC stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and board members, to have a name for the board to consider by this summer.

The name change will have no impact on degrees and certificates earned at the college. The former name will be printed in parentheses on new transcripts.

LFCC is part of the Virginia Community College System. In addition to its Middletown campus, LFCC has locations in Fauquier County, Luray-Page County and Vint Hill.

— Contact Josh Janney

at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

(36) comments

anon

The name Lord Fairfax CC, Health Department, etc has always been confusing for this area because it always gets confused with the most populated and much better name recognized Fairfax County. Lord Farifax region and Fairfax County are incredibly different but because of the names confused. I am tired of explaining where LFCC is not in Fairfax City.

Furthermore there are 23 community colleges and the names should all be geographic. That prevents confusion. New River Valley Community College, Mountain Empire College, VA Western Community College are a few examples. Name it the VA Northwestern Community College. .

LFCCLions

You can learn more about the decision and the renaming process, and provide feedback at lfcc.edu/name

shinyhappypeople

Thank you for the info. Looking forward to the new name, and may the school continue to offer quality educations at affordable prices. From the looks of some of the ignorant comments here, many could benefit greatly from some higher education, so perhaps this will encourage the start of some long overdue learning.

Dadof3

Thank you for the link. I recognize that this study was mandated by the Virginia Community College System. I am deeply disappointed that the College didn’t do more to diversify the study groups and include students and alumni. This alone makes one wonder if this was a forgone conclusion that the name was going to change.

Not_a_Nuri

I’m thinking of returning my diploma.

Spock Here

Memorials of people who were traitors to our country coming down is one thing. People cannot help the name they were born with. We're making ourselves look foolish

DavidC

Why don't we just number them and be done with it, so as not to offend anyone. Looking at a map of the state and numbering from north to south and west to east, it would be Virginia Community College #2.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Hush. Your argument is pretty irrelevant.

MaggieLounds

That's as good as what they are proposing.

GreatScott

It's ridiculous and wrong to do this. I guess Washington, DC and James Madison University are next in line. This must stop now.

Bryan.the.Nuri

What did Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, actually do in this area?

Maddog1975

Use your brain and look it up. In fact, I will do it for you!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Fairfax,_6th_Lord_Fairfax_of_Cameron

Conservative

He doesn't have one. He's waiting for the Wizard to give him one. Until that happens, name calling and spewing leftist nonsense is the only thing he's capable of. That, and repeating the same stupid questions over and over.

Bryan.the.Nuri

I think you both confused my question for ignorance. I know what Lord Fairfax's contributions to the area were. However, not being acquainted with the Socratic method, I can see where you erred in conclusion.

Dadof3

When I think of Lord Fairfax, I tend to think of our region. Maybe because I’m slightly older than their current students, maybe it’s because I actually recognized the name and knew who he was, his significance, and history. It will be interesting to see what new name they come up with the reflects positively on its entire servicing area.

Bryan.the.Nuri

What was his significance to the area?

Robina5

Trying to re-write history is never a valid solution. All this will do is increase the polarization and hatred - it is a divisive decision, not a healing one.

john brown

This decision is only hated by those who continue to worship those who actively participated in holding human beings as slaves and were traitors to this nation. 150+ years of turning a blind eye to these atrosities has not led to any racial healing so why not get rid of these divisive historical people/events that are disrepectful to a large portion of our society. Why do you think there are no statues, school names, military bases "honoring" hitler or his regime. Because they were evil. As was slavery and treason, evil.

You folks who long for "the good old days" ... need to get over yourselves.

SJFRAME

Slavery was a very ugly part of our nation's history. However, it was a long time ago and we are now a different nation. Just get over it and move on!!!!

Bryan.the.Nuri

I really want to see you tell more people to "get over" their issues. Maybe you could walk up to a random black person and say "racism is over, get over it!"

Dadof3

I am guessing that you would support the renaming of George Mason University, James Madison University, George Washington University ( all of which are named for slave holders), UVA’s Darden School of Business ( named for a segregationist), Longwood University ( after all it was named for Longwood Plantation), and I am sure others...

john brown

Personnally, I am more focused on the slave holder/confederate traitor combination. With a keen eye on statues and namings that were geared toward intimidating black Americans. Like that despicable treasonous statue in front of the old court house. We indeed live in complicated times.

Maddog1975

Add in Daniel Morgan, and 18 presidents, including U.S. Grant. We must face the facts that at a certain point in our history, slavery was considered the norm. What are we doing now that will be looked at in 150 years as wrong?

Bryan.the.Nuri

Rewriting history is ignoring facts concerning Lor dFairfax.

rgsheppard

Sad news that the LFCC Board has no backbone and bought into the overblown, media hyped, inaccurate death of George Floyd to justify their actions. The Board and The Winchester Star continues to ignore the existing health issues of Floyd and all of the narcotics found in his system. Rewriting history continues to be dangerous.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Lol, you're precious, trying to make Floyd at fault for someone else kneeling on his neck. How cute.

Can you tell the class what Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron did here?

Conservative

George Floyd was a menace to society. He was a criminal and a drug addict. However, because of his skin color, he has been made into a martyr. What happened to him was wrong, but what is going on in the aftermath is also wrong.

john brown

Notice you failed to take your usual ignorant swipe at the three accused murderers captured in frederick county. One wonders why .... not really.

Conservative

I live in your brain. You are so scared of me it's laughable. You know you are wrong, but to afraid to admit it. You'd rather be like the little slimeball who defends criminals and lives in his parent's basement.

john brown

typical conservative BS when correctly called out ... run get your gun coward

Bryan.the.Nuri

@conservative, no one will ever live in fear of a coward like you.

Bryan.the.Nuri

I love how bold you are. It figures you would want to keep anonymous.

Doc Samson

[thumbup]

shinyhappypeople

If you can watch that video and then blame George for his own death, you have bigger issues than blindness, stupidity, and a lack of integrity.

Not_a_Nuri

You must suffer from blindness and stupidity. You obviously only saw the snippets of video that the media wanted you to see. Did you see the officers body cam? The one where Floyd kept saying “I cant’t breathe” as the officers were trying to ask him to get in the car? And no, not forcibly in the car. It’s sad the media can’t tell the truth and give the full facts. Just like the Capital Police officer that was supposedly beaten with a fire extinguisher (which is false story that never got retracted).

MaggieLounds

Georges dad (if he knows who he is) should have taught him that crime has consequences. Commit no crime and don't suffer the consequences.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.