College Naming

Join us in the journey as we become Laurel Ridge Community College.

This fall and winter we are in the discovery phase, making plans for the nuts and bolts of that transition. The bulk of this phase is gathering information for and developing the project plan, including important milestones and an overall schedule for implementing the new name.

The completion date of the change to our name is June, 2022. As such, the many tasks associated with the name change will be completed with that end date in mind.

While we are changing our name, what won’t change is our mission of providing a positive, caring and dynamic learning environment that inspires student success, values diversity and promotes community vitality. The name Laurel Ridge will represent that everyone who comes to us can succeed. It also reflects the natural beauty that surrounds us while also representing the entire service region. Besides growing throughout the region, the laurel has symbolized victory and achievement from ancient Greek and Roman times all the way through to today. “Ridge” is symbolic of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which connect the northern Piedmont region in the east with the Shenandoah Valley.

Laurel Ridge Recommended as New College Name

On July 22, 2021, the State Board for Community Colleges unanimously approved Laurel Ridge Community College as our college’s new name.

The decision comes roughly a year after the State Board passed a resolution directing all of Virginia’s 23 community colleges to review the names of all their facilities. It also comes as the college finishes celebrating 50 years of welcoming students from all walks of life, from every race, every religion, every socio-economic group and every generation.

The college will be working to transition to our new identity between now and when the new name formally takes effect in May or June 2022. Laurel Ridge will start replacing Lord Fairfax on logos, signage, and in digital media. In 2023, graduates will be the first to have Laurel Ridge Community College on their diplomas.

A taskforce consisting of stakeholders, such as students, staff, alumni, community members, donors and board members, worked with our communities to generate potential names. 

Laurel Ridge symbolizes the positive spirit and can-do attitude the college embraces. It expresses to students that everyone can succeed here. It also reflects the natural beauty of our surroundings and is representative of our entire service region. The laurel has been symbolic of victory and achievement going all the way back to Greek and Roman times. Olympic champions were wreathed in laurel. More importantly for our purposes, the term “laurel” conveys academic achievement. Each year, millions of students earn baccalaureate degrees, and the term “laureate” is bestowed on those reaching the highest creative or intellectual summits, such as Nobel and poet laureates. Therefore, the name reflects our high standards and positive outlook focusing on student success.

Additionally, the mountain laurel adds to the beauty of our area as it blooms in spectacular fashion along our parkways, in our forests and across various landscapes. This evergreen plant is native to the eastern U.S.

The second half of our proposed new name, “ridge,” symbolizes the unique beauty of our area and is a tribute to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which connect the northern Piedmont region in the east with the Shenandoah Valley in the west. All of the localities served by us feel a connection to the Blue Ridge Mountains, whether they’re in the foothills, along Skyline Drive or in the valley. A ridge is also associated with the concept of achievement, and often appears in literature as a metaphor for reaching new heights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is LFCC’s mission, vision, and values?

Our mission statement: LFCC provides a positive, caring and dynamic learning environment that inspires student success, values diversity and promotes community vitality.

Our vision: LFCC enriches communities as we provide exemplary educational opportunities based on our core values.

Our values:

  • Learning – We foster an environment that ignites and sustains a passion for lifelong learning.
  • High Performance – We are focused, responsive, collaborative and accountable.
  • Integrity – We exemplify honesty, character and respect for our communities.
  • Positive Spirit – We value creativity, enthusiasm and a “can-do” attitude.
  • Diversity – We honor the uniqueness of individuals and communities.

Why did LFCC decide to evaluate the college’s name?

In the summer of 2020, the State Board for Community Colleges passed a resolution directing Virginia’s Community Colleges to review the names of their institutions, including their campuses and facilities. That resolution states in part, “The mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges and their shared dedication to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion demand we examine the names regularly facing our students, faculty, staff, and supporters on their community college journey, and determine if those names are consistent with that mission and those values.”

The charge to our board was to determine if the college namesake, as well as our other named spaces, were consistent with the mission and values of our college. The timeline established in the resolution required the local College Board to provide a recommendation related to any renaming before the March 2021 meeting of the State Board for Community Colleges.

Why was the name Laurel Ridge Community College selected?

The college aspired to select a name for its future that, among many qualities, has the potential to advance unity within the service region; honor the area’s distinct beauty and culture; inspire student engagement and the quest for knowledge; and reflect the college’s positive spirit and mission, vision, and values.

In ancient times, the laurel served as a symbol of victory; Olympic champions were crowned with laurel wreaths. The word “laurel” also conveys academic achievement – there are baccalaureate degrees, and Nobel and poet laureates.

“Ridge” evokes the Blue Ridge Mountains, which connect the northern Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley regions served by the college. In literature, a ridge often serves as a metaphor for reaching new heights.

How was the name evaluation carried out?

The LFCC College and Campus Names Workgroup was formed to review the college and campus names. First, the workgroup began reviewing the college’s history and how Lord Fairfax was chosen as the name, as well as reviewing Lord Fairfax’s life.

Around the same time, LFCC hired a brand research firm to provide a brand assessment to correspond with the college’s 50th anniversary and upcoming strategic planning launch. The firm carried out a brand research study, working with small samples of students, employees and community members, followed by a larger, region-wide survey. 

The College and Campus Names Workgroup met from August 2020 to January 2021, and the College Board received and discussed progress updates from each of the workgroups at their meetings.

During its Feb. 4 meeting, the Lord Fairfax Community College Board voted to rename the college. More information about the process can be found here.

What factors led to the decision to rename?

After months of discussion and workgroup and College Board meetings, the factors that led to the renaming decision were as follows:

  • There is no geographical region associated with Lord Fairfax, and participants in the brand study who were not originally from our service region confused the name with Fairfax County, VA, and Fairfax, WV.
  • The workgroup unanimously agreed, based on his history and lack of any notable legacy, that if the college were being named today, the group would not recommend it be named for Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax.
  • Lord Fairfax was a local historical figure who is not well-known within the college’s service region, even by people familiar with Lord Fairfax Community College (9 out of 10 surveyed did not know who Lord Fairfax was).
  • The brand study and the workgroup findings show that people feel affinity for the college because of what the college has meant to them, and not because of Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax.
  • The study showed that regardless of whether respondents were white or non-white, young or old, whether they had been affiliated with the college or not, once people learned about the life of Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, they were more supportive of a name change

The LFCC College Board was asked whether the namesake reflects the mission, vision, and values of the college and the students we serve. Ultimately, after reviewing all of the data, the College Board did not believe Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, represents our values, our students, or the college’s future, and therefore voted to move forward with the process of renaming.

When will the name change take effect?

The college will be working to transition to our new identity between now and when the new name formally takes effect in May or June 2022. Laurel Ridge will start replacing Lord Fairfax on logos, signage, and in digital media. In 2023, graduates will be the first to have Laurel Ridge Community College on their diplomas. The name change will not impact degrees and certificates earned by our students between 1972 and 2022. The former name will be printed in parentheses on new transcripts.

Will the cost of renaming be borne by taxpayers?

No. Rather than being footed by students or taxpayers, the money for direct costs of renaming will come from profits generated through the college’s auxiliary enterprises, including bookstore and vending commissions and the rental of our facilities.

Why was the name Lord Fairfax originally chosen for the college?

Minutes from College Board meetings in 1969 – when the yet-to-be-opened college’s board was referred to as the Region 15 College Board – show that the founders struggled with selecting a name. Other community colleges in the state had been named after their geographic location or an individual with either historical significance to the area or to the establishment of the college. Likely geographical names, such as Massanutten and Shenandoah, had already been chosen by other institutions, while the local planning district covering Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren counties, as well as the city of Winchester, had been named the Lord Fairfax Planning District. For that reason, and because Lord Fairfax had owned all of the land within the college’s service region, Lord Fairfax Community College was chosen.

However, the State Board for Community Colleges was concerned the name would cause confusion due to Fairfax County being in Northern Virginia Community College’s service region. Such was the concern that the State Board sent the name back three times, only accepting it after the third time, and on the condition that “Lord” always remain in the name.

While part of the rationale for the college name was the local planning commission having adopted the name Lord Fairfax, the commission was renamed the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission in 2001 because it better reflected the geographical area of its members.

Did Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, have a connection to Lord Fairfax Community College?

No, the college has proudly served thousands of students over the past 50 years, and we value and appreciate the history and beautiful areas we serve. While Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was a historical figure in the region, he is not well known even to people familiar with the college. He did not donate land or money to the college, nor did he leave a legacy of support for education.

Employees have spent their careers working at LFCC, and students have found a new direction in life after completing our programs. Nothing will change those memories and success stories.

The college will continue to honor and celebrate all of the graduates, employees and supporters who have made LFCC the outstanding college it is today. While the name will change, the programs and support we offer to students will continue to be part of the history of this region. 

Is the college erasing history by recommending a new name?

No, the college has proudly served thousands of students over the past 50 years, and we value and appreciate the history and beautiful areas we serve. While Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was a historical figure in the region, he is not well known even to people familiar with the college. He did not donate land or money to the college, nor did he leave a legacy of support for education.

Employees have spent their careers working at LFCC, and students have found a new direction in life after completing our programs. Nothing will change those memories and success stories.

The college will continue to honor and celebrate all of the graduates, employees and supporters who have made LFCC the outstanding college it is today. While the name will change, the programs and support we offer to students will continue to be part of the history of this region.

Questions or Comments?

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions about the renaming process.

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