By Brandon Martin
The Patrick Henry Community College Board has decided on a couple of names to submit to the State Board for Community Colleges should its latest bid to retain the words “Patrick” and “Henry” fail.
During its June 15 meeting, the local board once more called on the state board to consider allowing the college to be referred to as “Patrick-Henry Community College” or “Patrick & Henry Community College.”
Anticipating the state board would likely reject the proposal again, the local board agreed to submit “Patriot Heights Community College” and “Patriot Hills Community College” as alternate suggestions.
The two submissions made the final cut out of a slate of four names total, including “Patrick & Henry Community College” and “Patriot Heritage Community College.”
Amanda Broome, public relations and social media manager for the college, said that Patriot Heights and Patriot Hills were the top two vote-getters respectively, based on live polling data from social media.
To narrow down the list of names, the four names were individually ranked in order of preference. Patriot Heights and Patriot Hills also received the most votes among the local board members.
Board Member George Hippisley said that “Patriot Heritage has us looking backwards” while “Patriot Heights has us looking forward as a school as students attain new heights” and “Patriot Hills is mostly neutral.”
There were other reasons for shying away from the other names as well.
Board member Monica Hatchett said, “we’ve had extensive discussion about not naming the college for an individual or individuals, and about the punctuation involved in the name and I just think Patrick & Henry is essentially the same thing as adding the dash.”
Additionally, Hatchett said she was concerned about Patriot Heritage because “locally, I believe there is a negative connotation to southern heritage and that sort of terminology. That name does give me pause.”
Among the names that were chosen, Gary Collins, board member, said he was “happy” with the board’s ability to settle on names that would allow for the school to retain the acronym PHCC.
“I think that is going to save us some money, I think it is very crucial for our athletics,” Collins said. “I think we are at least addressing the issue of keeping our initials the same and I understand what everybody’s feelings are.”
Collins said that hopefully the state board will accept the local board’s request to move forward with “Patrick-Henry Community College” or “Patrick & Henry Community College” but “if they don’t, we have other options of what we are presenting. The community still has to recognize that they may not even like our” suggestions.
Dr. Angeline Godwin, who attended the meeting as president of the college for the last time, said the Financial Analysis Committee rigorously considered the fiscal impact of changing the name and its initials.
“Patrick Henry Community College has never just guessed at anything,” Godwin said. “We didn’t just come up with some random $500,000 to $1 million. I can assure you that as long as I sat in this office, I never guessed about anything. We do our homework. Everything we do, we measure twice and cut once.”
Godwin said based on the experiences at other community colleges, additional expenses that weren’t originally part of financial planning.
“We are trying to be smart about this because we are going to have to take money out of the coffers that normally goes to Foundation work, which is mostly scholarships and direct aid to students,” and “we are going to have to transition those resources to this name change,” Godwin said. “That makes it serious business. Whether you want a new name more than anything, we’ve still got to pay for it. We don’t come up with arbitrary numbers to make the case that we need to change the name.”
After the college had surveyed the community for a list of names, Godwin said some didn’t make the final cut for a variety of reasons.
Any name that began with “Virginia” was not considered due to the prevalence of the word in the other 23 community college names.
“We already have two community colleges in the VCCS that begin with the name Virginia,” Godwin said. “I can assure you that’s not going to get it. You might as well put it aside. And it would be bad branding business for the VCCS state board to approve that. You would be in a very homogeneous brand world that would be very expensive to ever push through and distinguish yourself.”
Similarly, suggested names that began with “Mountain” and “Piedmont” were not suggested for the same reason.
Godwin also advised not moving forward with names that began with “Progressive” given its current political associations.