Three Virginia Community Colleges to Change Their Names

Patrick Henry

Three Virginia Community Colleges have a green light to change their names and two other colleges are being directed to consider doing likewise after the State Board for Community Colleges voted unanimously to amend its community college naming policy.

In updating its college naming policy, the board agreed college names “should reflect the values of inclusive and accessible education articulated in the VCCS mission statement, with special emphasis on diversity, equity, and opportunity, and be relevant to the students it seeks to serve and to the geography of its service region.”

Accordingly, the board unanimously approved the recommendations of the local college boards of John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, and Thomas Nelson Community Colleges to remove their existing names and return with recommendations of what their new names should be.

Further, the board unanimously voted to direct Patrick Henry Community College and Dabney S. Lancaster Community College leaders and local boards to reconsider their previous decision to retain their college’s name following the state policy change.

Patrick Henry, most known for his 1775 declaration, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” was a slaveowner. He served two terms as governor of Virginia. Dabney S. Lancaster became the state superintendent of public instruction in 1941. After the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Lancaster was quoted as saying, “We’ll fight it from the housetops, from the street corners, in every possible way. We are going to maintain our way of life.”

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