Laurel Ridge and SU students collaborate on Town Hall on April 15

For Immediate Release:
April 11, 2019

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

town hall

Laurel Ridge public speaking and ethics students will be joining with Shenandoah University students to participate in the university’s nationally-recognized General Education Town Hall project April 15 in the Ferrari Room in the Brandt Student Center at SU.

Shenandoah University launched its General Education Town Hall in 2016, and it has become an annual event and a signature feature of their general education curriculum. The program has received national attention from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities recognizes the program as a campus model for high-impact educational practices.

 Students spend a semester researching a social issue from the perspective of a specific course. The social issues include racial inequality, gun control, mental health, immigration, war and conflict, and human trafficking.

Nearly 400 people – from students, to faculty and administrators, to community professionals, to moderators – are expected at the Town Hall event, which will kick off with an introduction and overview.

Then, the students will share their research with their peers from a range of classes — including Hispanic studies, global public health, gender and women’s studies, and political science — and hear multiple perspectives on the same issue. A community consultant will help moderate these small group discussions and challenge students to think deeper and in more practical ways about their approach.

This year, the Town Hall welcomes 24 community consultants. Among the returning consultants are Lauren Cummings, the executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition; Oscar Cerrito-Mendoza, the housing services program manager for AIDS Response Effort, Inc; and Dr. Laura Dabinett, a local obstetrician-gynecologist. Jamie Ojeda, the former Spanish ambassador to NATO, and Matt Gerboth, an analyst for the FBI Washington field office, are new to Town Hall this year.

Before the close of the evening, the groups will reconvene to share the highlights from their small group discussions.

The Laurel Ridge contingent is being led by communications instructor Dr. Naomi Simpson and Professor Margaret Cecere, who is bringing her ethics students.

As part of its 10-year reaccreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Laurel Ridge was required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

The college chose to focus on information literacy with the goal of students developing proficiency in finding, understanding and evaluating information, and in applying, integrating, creating and sharing information.

“From a QEP and general education competency standpoint, we believe this is an excellent opportunity for our students to improve information literacy skills while engaging in collaboration with others in the community,” says Laurel Ridge Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation Stacey Ellis.

She will be attending the Town Hall forum with other QEP leadership team members and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Karen Kellison.

Laurel Ridge students are participating in the joint event at the invitation of SU Associate Provost and Director of General Education Amy Sarch.

“We are thrilled that Laurel Ridge is joining us for the Town Hall, and we look forward to hearing their students’ voices along with our own,” says Dr. Sarch.

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s QEP at


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — 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 is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

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.