By Brandon Martin
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) could soon become Patrick-Henry Community College, following recommendations from a naming review committee to make the campus more racially inclusive.
Terry Young, who served on the College Name Committee, discussed the reasoning behind the recommendation.
“Evidence was overwhelming that, in fact the college was not named for the historical figure, Patrick Henry, but was instead named for our geographical locations that the college serves. The counties of Patrick and Henry.” Young said.
“It’s our recommendation that we retain the name of the college,” with a slight modification, he said.
“The college name will return to its recent nomenclature, as we recently discovered by research, by adding a hyphen between the words Patrick and Henry, adopting Patrick-Henry Community College as the official name,” Young said.
Given that the counties themselves were named after the historical figure Patrick Henry, who was a slave-owner, the committee recommended that the college “disassociate itself from the historical figure by discontinuing the use of the colonial male image in any form,” Young said.
Robert Haley, who served on the Mascot Name Review Committee, said the committee recommended a continuation of the use of the name “Patriot” based on the etymology and definition of the word.
He described a “Patriot” as “a person that loves, supports and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.”
While the name will remain the same, the committee recommended a change in the icon and mascot associated with the word “Patriot.”
“The committee felt that no persona or icon can adequately convey what a patriot was to everyone, thus the committee recommends removing the image of a person as a mascot.” Haley said. “The committee also explicitly endorsed the use of the compass as a symbol for PHCC.”
Monica Hatchett, who served on the Facility Names Committee, said the labels of all named classrooms, laboratories, outer spaces and other facilities at PHCC also were reviewed.
“For this process, we identified 23 named facilities located throughout the campus,” Hatchett said.
Of that total, three were deemed to be inappropriate for “not being used in their original named capacity,” according to Roger Hayden, who also served on the committee.
“These changes occurred due to building renovations and/or restructuring of programs to better
accommodate student needs and changing technologies,” Hayden said. “Because the facilities are not currently used as initially intended, the committee has deemed the subsequent facility names as incompatible and, therefore, recommends that the naming plaques be moved to a newly established Hall of Appreciation where they will remain on display.”
The three facilities named are the Bassett Walker Corporation CADD Lab, the Hooker Furniture Technology Lab and the Francis T. West Industrial Engineering Lab.
A separate committee was formed to review the names of seven buildings that currently bear, or are slated to bear the names of individuals.
No building names were changed but the committee acknowledged it had “concerns regarding appropriateness” about A.L. Philpott Hall, William F. Stone Hall and Frances T. West Hall.
Janet Copenhaver, PHCC board chairman, said the review process included a historical review, a cultural review, a public feedback period, a philanthropic impact review and a financial analysis.
“Our top priority is the success of our students and our community,” Copenhaver said. “Our goal is to conduct this review with a commitment to mutual respect, integrity, transparency and professionalism. I believe we have maintained that priority and met that goal in all of the proceedings of this review process.”
The final recommendations must be submitted before the March 2021 meeting of the State Board of Community Colleges.
To solicit input from the community it serves, PHCC has opened a two-week public comment period to end on Nov. 30. Anyone who would like to share comments or feedback about the review process is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (276) 299-0640.
Those providing feedback should be aware that because PHCC is a public institution, all submitted comments are subject to Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. PHCC cannot promise nondisclosure of any comments or anonymity for any commenters.
The college requests that students who provide feedback should identify themselves as students to help the college catalog the feedback appropriately.
Once the review is submitted, the State Board of Community Colleges will assess the information to determine whether a change is necessary. Only the State Board has the authority to change a community college’s name.