Original Donor for Laurel Ridge’s Fauquier Campus Continues His Generosity

For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2017

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

Chris Coutts Dr Cheryl Bob Sowder Liv Heggoy
Fauquier Campus Provost Chris Coutts, Laurel Ridge President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, Mr. Bob Sowder, and Laurel Ridge Foundation Executive Director Liv Heggoy.

Bob Sowder donates $20,000 this week to support the Laurel Ridge Foundation’s building fund for Hazel Hall 

Chris Coutts Dr Cheryl Bob Sowder Liv Heggoy

Fauquier Campus Provost Chris Coutts, Laurel Ridge President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, Mr. Bob Sowder, and Laurel Ridge Foundation Executive Director Liv Heggoy.

On Tuesday, January 24, Laurel Ridge held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completed renovations to the Barn at the college’s Fauquier Campus.  Laurel Ridge President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy recognized and thanked Mr. Bob Sowder, who attended the event and who has long supported Laurel Ridge in Fauquier County.  

Sowder donated the 2.5 acres and accompanying storage barn so the college could open in 1988.   But, Mr. Sowder didn’t stop there. He donated a further $90,000 for renovations to “The Barn,” and was able to get IBM to donate furniture. 

Bob Sowder - Barn Ribbon Cutting 1.24.17

Mr. Sowder in front of the library entrance. The Bob G. Sowder library was dedicated in 1999, in memory of his mother, Goldie Settle Sowder. Photo taken January 24, 2017. High res photos are available.

For nearly 30 years, Sower and his wife Janet have generously supported Laurel Ridge. Among their many contributions include an endowed scholarship and an emergency fund at the college for Fauquier County students. 

During the Barn ribbon cutting, Fauquier Campus Provost Chris Coutts also provided a progress report on Hazel Hall.  Last year, the Virginia General Assembly approved $17 million in construction funds for the new academic building, which will serve a variety of programs including science, health professions, and engineering.

Thompson-Stacy added that the Laurel Ridge Foundation is close to reaching its fundraising goal of $2.75 million, with a final $100,000 to raise.   This funding will ensure that the college has sufficient resources for site work and other enhancements that are not covered by state construction funds. 

At the conclusion of the event, Mr. Sowder approached college officials and wrote a $20,000 check to the Laurel Ridge Foundation.  He said, “I challenge others in the community to come forward and help the project along.”

“Mr. Sowder’s commitment to the betterment of our Fauquier Campus and the people we serve is astounding,” Thompson-Stacy said. “Time and again, he has come through for the educational benefit of our students. It’s no wonder he is a past recipient of the Virginia Community College Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy.”


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.