Laurel Ridge Faculty Fellows team receives state recognition

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2022

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

Laurel Ridge Faculty Fellows team
Pictured left to right: Pictured left to right: Amy Judd, Professor Naomi Simpson, Professor Polly Nesselrodt, Professor Rachel Dodson, Dr. Erin Mills, VCCS Senior Vice Chancellor Sharon Morrissey, Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser, and VCCS Chancellor Dubois

A new initiative Laurel Ridge launched in spring 2021 has been recognized at the state level. Six faculty members were chosen to be part of the inaugural Faculty Fellows program working under the guidance of Amy Judd, the college’s director of academic assessment, evaluation and analytics, and Dr. Erin Mills, instructional designer.

The program was awarded the Excellence in Education Award for Building Opportunity through INCLUSIVITY during the Virginia Community College System’s New Horizons Conference last month. About 700 faculty and staff from the system’s 23 community colleges and the system office attended the teaching and learning conference. This year’s theme was “Building Opportunity” in alignment with the system’s strategic plan, Opportunity 2027, which strives for equity in access, learning outcomes and success for all students regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic group.

In summer 2021, the Faculty Fellows studied universal design for learning (UDL) and how it impacts equity and success for diverse learners. Each faculty member redesigned a fall 2021 course using UDL principles and evaluated how that redesign impacted student success. Because students have different learning styles, cognitive abilities, and cultural and social experiences, UDL uses multiple means of engagement and action, allowing professors to better evaluate how students are learning and how effective their courses are.

They also shared what they learned with their colleagues through professional development sessions and an online book. A second cohort of Faculty Fellows will begin this summer, and is expected to dive even deeper into student equity and success. 

“Our first group of Faculty Fellows has gone beyond the basics of the fellowship agreement and has exhibited dedication, hard work and buy-in to this initiative, paving the way for the next cohort,” said Dr. Anne Davis, Laurel Ridge vice president of academic and student affairs. “They have participated in equity conversations – which at times were difficult – with civility and thoughtfulness – and have been innovative in delivering high-quality professional development courses to their peers. They have set a positive example for teaching excellence in difficult times.”

Working with Dr. Mills and the Faculty Fellows was very enjoyable for Judd.

“It is a creative, thoughtful and dedicated group wholly committed to student success,” she said.

Dr. Mills said the fellows were “true ambassadors” of universal design for learning.

“Universal design for learning principles and practices can help instructors address variability in their learner cohorts and reduce barriers to learning by building flexibility, accessibility, learner voice, and choice in the fabric of the learning interactions they design,” she said. “The fellows not only created these experiences in their class assessments, but helped others see the value of doing so as well.”

The Faculty Fellows consisted of ESL program coordinator Dr. Soyoung Burke, Business Management and Administration Associate Professor Rachel Dodson, Biology Associate Professor Jeff Hollar, Judd, History Professor Curtis Morgan, Spanish Associate Professor Polly Nesselrodt and Communication Studies Associate Professor Naomi Simpson.

Additionally, Dr. Mills was part of a group recognized with the Excellence in Education Award for Building Opportunity through COLLABORATION. The group developed training materials for building engagement among students taking online courses.


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.