For Immediate Release:
June 22, 2017
Primary Media Contact:
Public Relations Specialist
Laurel Ridge President Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy is announcing her retirement, effective Feb. 1, 2018. Dr. C, as she is affectionately known around campus, has served as the leader of Laurel Ridge – which has campuses in Middletown and Warrenton, a center in Luray and a site in Vint Hill – since January 2009.
Dr. C’s time at Laurel Ridge has been marked by numerous successes: a 13-percent jump in full-time enrollment in the year following her hiring, with significant growth in the following years; dramatic spikes in the number of high school students taking dual-enrollment classes; an 85 percent increase in the college’s endowment; the addition of several new degree and certification programs, including associate of science specializations in agriculture, engineering and health professions, as well as cybersecurity and the commercial driver’s license program; and the surgical technology program receiving national accreditation, with the nursing program currently in the approval process for national accreditation.
In addition, Dr. C has overseen tremendous growth at all four Laurel Ridge locations. During her tenure, the Middletown Campus’s Corron Community Development Center and the Student Union Building were erected and the Kathy Kanter Dental Hygiene Clinic was expanded and renovated, all allowing Laurel Ridge to not only better serve and expand its offerings for students and employees, but to also become a favored venue for community and even regional organizations to put on seminars, dinners and fundraisers. Dr. C also presided over the establishment of Laurel Ridge’s fourth location, the Vint Hill site, as well as the expansion of the Luray-Page County Center, the recent renovation of the Barn at the Fauquier Campus, and the college’s securing $17 million in state construction funds for the Eleanor C. and William A. Hazel Hall in Warrenton. Groundbreaking on the Hazel Hall building is expected in the near future.
Also during Dr. C’s presidency, Laurel Ridge has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the U.S. National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and has four times been named the No. 1 community college of its size in the nation by the Center for Digital Education.
“Of all of Laurel Ridge’s many achievements in recent years, I am most proud of our being named a Great College to Work For® the past five years in a row,” Dr. C says. “That’s because the best part of my job has always been the people I work with and the students we serve.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education bestows the designation on colleges based on anonymous workplace satisfaction surveys. As a result of the most recent survey, Laurel Ridge was one of just three community colleges in the nation in 2016 to be recognized in all 10 categories of the survey, including confidence in senior leadership, job satisfaction, work/life balance, compensation and benefits, and respect and appreciation.
With a milestone birthday approaching, Dr. C says she began to reflect on her own future and realized retirement was the right option for her.
“Our team has accomplished so much over the past nine years – enrollment exploded, we’ve got more facilities, more programs, national recognitions in a wide variety of areas,” Dr. C says. “I think it’s a good time now for someone else to come in and take the driver’s seat and continue to move the college forward.”
Laurel Ridge College Board Chair Fran Jeffries calls Dr. C a “visionary leader.”
“She has excelled in working with Laurel Ridge staff, the Laurel Ridge College Board, the Laurel Ridge Foundation Board, our community, and our students to provide the flexible, meaningful, and varied educational opportunities that characterize Laurel Ridge Community College,” Fran Jeffries says. “During her tenure as president, Laurel Ridge has expanded its campus facilities at Middletown, Fauquier, and Luray; increased enrollment; improved its curriculum offerings and worked closely with community businesses and schools to assure workforce needs are met and that all students have an opportunity to be successful.
“We are grateful for her dedication to Laurel Ridge and her exemplary leadership over the past nine years – she will be missed.”
Dr. C was named the 2015 Woman of the Year by the Winchester Branch of the American Association of University Women, and is a former board chair of the United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, is chair-elect of the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, is a member of the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center and serves on the Governor’s Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success. She has also served on the boards of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, and Goodwill Industries, among other bodies.
Dr. C is the fourth person – and second woman – to serve as the president of Laurel Ridge, which opened its first classrooms in 1970. Prior to her arrival here, she was Eastern Shore Community College’s first female president. She has also served as a vice president at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and as a business dean at both Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, and at Jefferson Community College in Steubenville, Ohio.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Kent State University, and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Sarasota.
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.