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Dabney S. Lancaster Community College agrees to name change after new details about namesake revealed

College leadership initially rejected state calls for a name change

Changes are coming to the names of two community colleges in our area after problematic histories of their namesakes.
Changes are coming to the names of two community colleges in our area after problematic histories of their namesakes.

ALLEGHANY COUNTY, VA. – A name change is coming to the community college serving the Alleghany Highlands after a major reversal.

On Monday night, the board of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College unanimously approved dropping the name in favor of a yet to be determined replacement.

The process began last summer when state leaders asked the college to change its name. The college’s board pushed back against the ask and said it did not want to.

The college was researching its namesake and other buildings when state leaders again asked for a name change.

The state took issue with Lancaster’s history. While he pushed for equal pay among white and Black teachers, he als supported school segregation. Then just last month researchers discovered Lancaster was an active member in an Anglo-Saxon Club described by historians as an “elitist KKK” organization and at one point a national officer.

“Then after more information came forward it was kind of a done deal, we needed to change the name and they said if we didn’t they were, so that’s where we got to tonight,” college chairman Steve Vaughn said.

College president John Rainone said alienating even one person from campus is not okay.

“The additional information that was found and really if you look at the body of work, I certainly think that the decision was the right one as we move forward in this time,” Rainone said.

The college celebrates its 60th anniversary next year and Rainone said the new name will cement its next chapter.

“We will take whatever our new name will be and that’s the next process, but we are still going to honor the 60 years as Dabney Lancaster because they’ve been 60 great years,” Rainone said.

The college’s board hopes to have a new name selected by this fall. It said it will solicit the community for suggestions and local leaders will play a part in picking the new name.