Lord Fairfax Community College will change its name, that of a 17th-century colonial land baron who owned slaves.
The college’s 14-member board, which includes two Fauquier representatives, voted Feb. 4 to make the change.
“I said many times that his name is just not good enough for us,” LFCC President Kim Blosser said in a video address to the staff and students. “We are much better than what that name would show.”
Founded in 1969 at Middletown (Frederick County), the college has expanded with satellite campuses just south of Warrenton and in Luray.
The State Board for Community Colleges in July asked all of its institutions to review their names as similar efforts spread across the nation — especially Virginia — in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement’s rise.
LFCC’s effort included “six months of study, focus group discussions and the results of a brand research study,” Dr. Blosser said.
“The process has been comprehensive, disciplined, inclusive, deliberative and, above all else, respectful of our responsibility for the history and future of the college,” said Vice Chairman Mike Wenger (Rappahannock County). “Hard-working groups reached out to constituents, dug into the records, read history, gathered data and debated issues.
“We considered the overall college branding with an eye to the future. 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.”
Born in England, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1639-1781), came to own the Northern Neck Proprietary, five million acres that stretched from the Chesapeake Bay to the outskirts of what would become Pittsburgh.
Lord Fairfax bought and sold slaves who worked on the 30 farms that created much of his wealth. He died in Virginia and lies in a Winchester grave.
Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax and thousands of businesses and institutions bear his name.
“While remembering and honoring the history and successes of LFCC during its first 50 years, the Lord Fairfax Community College Board has accepted the responsibility and opportunity to move forward with renaming the college to reflect the vision and mission for the future for our communities and our students,” Chairwoman Pam McInnis (Warren County) said.
The Fauquier Campus opened in 1989. The first classes took place in a renovated barn that real estate investor Bob Sowder of Catlett donated for a joint effort of LFCC and Germanna Community College.
LFCC plans to adopt a new name later this year.