Lord Fairfax Community College will change its name after 50 years in operation, choosing to find a more culturally inclusive moniker. The college’s leaders have tasked a group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and board members to work with communities to come up with a new name. The task force expects to have a name to consider by this summer, according to a press release from Sally Voth, public relations coordinator at Lord Fairfax.
The name Lord Fairfax was chosen in 1969 – a year before the college opened. The original college board chose the name in part for its link to the region’s colonial history. The name also added consistency because the local planning district commission had recently adopted the name Lord Fairfax Planning District Commission.
Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was born in England, and would ultimately hold more than 5 million acres from Virginia’s Northern Neck to near what is now Pittsburgh. He would become a friend of George Washington, although his loyalties lay with the British during the Revolutionary War.
Lord Fairfax – like many large landowners at the time – enslaved people.
In July 2020, the State Board for Community Colleges passed a resolution asking all community colleges in Virginia to review their names to ensure the names reflected the modern-day values of the organizations. Following six months of study, focus group discussions and the results of a brand research study, the LFCC College Board voted on Feb. 4 to change the name of Lord Fairfax Community College.
According to the press release, when LFCC President Kim Blosser shared the board’s decision with faculty and staff on Feb. 4, she said, “As we develop our new strategic plan and look forward to our next 50 years, we will find a name that better suits our vision of an inclusive, equitable learning environment for every student, one that improves their economic mobility and supports the economic development of the communities we serve. And we will involve our employees, our students and our community members in this process; we will do this together.”
Vice Chair Mike Wenger, who represents Rappahannock County, added, “The process has been comprehensive, disciplined, inclusive, deliberative, and, above all else, respectful of our responsibility for the history and future of the college. Hard-working groups reached out to constituents, dug into the records, read history, gathered data and debated issues….”
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, who represents Shenandoah County on the community college’s board, said, “Often, we just move forward day by day without thinking about our name, so this gives us a great opportunity to look at ourselves and determine who we are in relation to our values, our mission, where we are today as an institution, and where we want to go tomorrow. Lord Fairfax doesn’t represent anything we are about.
“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….”
The Lord Fairfax Community College system has four locations – campuses in Middletown and Warrenton, a Luray-Page County center and a location at Vint Hill in New Baltimore. The college serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont regions: the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the City of Winchester.