More than 1,300 students to earn their diplomas in Laurel Ridge’s 50th commencement exercises May 15

For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2021

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

Laurel Ridge will celebrate its class of 2021 in a series of events this week.

A virtual commencement will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 15. Additionally, the college will hold drive-thru diploma walks – starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 13, on the Fauquier Campus, and at 4 p.m. Friday, May 14, on the Middletown Campus.

During the drive-thru diploma walks, graduates’ names will be read, they’ll walk across the stage, receive their diploma covers and be photographed.

This is the second consecutive year the college has held a virtual commencement ceremony due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ceremony will feature the national anthem, remarks from President Kim Blosser, messages from faculty delivered by Professor Rachel Dodson and Professor Kim Lewis, and a graduation speech by Faith Dellinger. Awards, including the outstanding graduate from each campus, will also be presented.

“We’re so excited to have a couple of ways to celebrate commencement as the college’s 50th anniversary year draws to a close,” President Blosser said. “In the fall of 1970, 577 students entered our doors. Since then, we have served more than 400,000 students and conferred more than 24,000 degrees. The Class of 2021 has worked especially hard during these past months – more than a year – of the pandemic, and deserves our congratulations. And, their professors and instructors have supported them and continued to give them a first-rate education through it all.”

There are approximately 1,330 graduates in the Class of 2021.

  • 345 from Frederick County
  • 183 from Fauquier County
  • 165 from Winchester
  • 143 from Shenandoah County
  • 142 from Warren County
  • 93 from Page County
  • 38 from Clarke County
  • 28 from Rappahannock County
  • 199 from other jurisdictions

Also as part of the program, the following individuals will be recognized with College Board Medallions of Recognition:

  • Lynne Richman Bell, who served as the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Fauquier from August 2014 until this past March, guiding the club from near closure with $1.4 million in debt to a highly-respected, impactful, stable organization with an endowment and four months of operations in reserve. Not only did Bell offer Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions space at the club to offer trades training labs, but she asked the college to build a viewing window so club patrons could watch as students learned hands-on skilled trades.
  • William C. “Bill” Daniel, who serves as Frederick County Public Schools’ data management coordinator, is a 1991 Laurel Ridge graduate, former instructor and former chair of the College Board. Daniel was a very active board member, even enrolling in a course to learn more about the challenges and opportunities more recent students experience. During his eight years on the College Board, Laurel Ridge opened the Student Union Building on the Middletown Campus, established the Vint Hill Site, funded the Hazel Hall STEM building on the Fauquier Campus and built the new Luray-Page County Center.
  • Donna Whitley-Smith, who retired as superintendent of Page County Public Schools in 2018, helped develop the Laurel Ridge Educational Consortium, a partnership among Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions and public school systems that provides professional development opportunities for educators. Passionate about dual enrollment, Whitley-Smith was instrumental in getting the Heath Sciences Building at the Page County Technical Center.
  • Rosanne Williamson is the founding director of Mountain Vista Governor’s School (MVGS), which serves gifted children in grades 10-12 in Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Rappahannock and Warren counties and Winchester. The school is on both the Middletown and the Fauquier campuses. In 2020, 92 percent of students graduating from MVGS completed a credential, with 47 earning an associate degree, and 12 a certificate in general education, simultaneously with their high school diploma.

Two former Laurel Ridge professors will be awarded emeritus status during the commencement ceremony. James “Jim” Crowley, a biology professor at Laurel Ridge from 2004-2019, is being awarded posthumously. Dr. Crowley continually evaluated his courses through consultation with the nursing program and four-year universities to ensure his students’ future success. He mastered the fine balance between fostering student success and upholding a high level of academic rigor. He held his students to a high standard because he knew what they learned could someday save someone’s life. Dr. Crowley was awarded the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty award in 2006 by his peers for his work in establishing a transfer pathway to George Washington University Medical School in the discipline of pharmacogenomics.

Andrea Ludwick, who retired as professor of English and speech in 2019, spent her entire career – 45 years – with Laurel Ridge. She is known for her acceptance and warmth, encouraging nature and genuine compassion. She was honored with the Laurel Ridge Distinguished Faculty Award in 1996 and the Walking King’s Talk Award in 2017. Professor Ludwick established the Walking King’s Talk Celebration and Award Ceremony in 2003. She also established and led the college’s forensics team and began the long-running Fairfax Follies variety show. She is well known in the community for her enthusiasm in establishing and expanding students’ opportunities in the performing arts.

For more information about commencement, visit www.laurelridge.edu/commencement.

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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.

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