The Virginia State Board of Community Colleges made a slew of decisions Thursday about name changes for local institutions named after public figures who owned slaves or promoted racist policies such as school segregation.
The board will permit Patrick Henry Community College to change its name to Patrick & Henry Community College, honoring Patrick County and Henry County, two areas the institution serves. College leaders claim that the college was originally named for the counties rather than Patrick Henry, the first and sixth governor of Virginia, who owned slaves, WSLS-TV reported.
The shift comes after the board called on the college twice to change its name over the last year, in line with its updated policy to ensure the name of institutions reflect “the values of inclusive and accessible education articulated in the VCCS mission statement.”
The board simultaneously approved name changes for Lord Fairfax Community College to Laurel Ridge Community College and John Tyler Community College to Brightpoint Community College.
“The name Brightpoint celebrates the heart and energy of our institution, connects to the experiences people have here, and reflects the uplifting and welcoming environment we strive to create for all,” Edward Raspiller, the president of John Tyler, said in a letter. He noted that the name change would take 12 to 18 months to fully go into effect across the campus.
Thomas Nelson Community College and Dabney S. Lancaster Community College are also expected to bring recommendations for new names before the board in the fall.