To dream big.

To act boldly.

To give generously.

To make dreams come true.

To make dreams real.

Barbara Collie '50

Five Shields Sisters = One Divine Sisterhood

Once upon a time, five Shields sisters all came to Averett. All five sisters graduated, and they all became passionately loyal Averett alumnae. In honor of the Shields sisters’ longstanding tradition of loving and being loyal to Averett, one of those sisters, Barbara Shields Collie ’50, recently created the Shields Sisters Endowed Scholarship to benefit promising Averett students. “It’s about family,” says Barbara. “Not just about me or my sisters, two of whom are no longer with us, but about our Averett family, too. If we can help make an Averett education possible for someone, that’s a legacy - a gift that will last forever.” What a beautiful gift Barbara Shields Collie, Ruth Shields Cobbs ’44, Ryland Shields Coggins ’37, Judith Shields Durham ’54, and Stanley Shields Presto ’36 have all been to Averett University from the day they first arrived on campus. Thanks to their inspiration, Averett students will benefit from endowed scholarships for years to come.

Talk about a divine sisterhood.

Carol & Niles Daly

The Daly Promise Award: Scholarships Through the Philip N. Daly & Frances K. Daly Charitable Lead Unitrust

Research shows that for first-generation students, making the transition from high school to college can be particularly challenging. To reward first-generation Averett students for meeting this challenge during their freshman year, and to help them go on to graduate and fulfill their true promise, the Daly Promise Award was established. “The Daly Promise Award was created to give young adults a variety of opportunities and a better chance to succeed,” says Niles Daly, a former Trustee. “Sometimes just believing in them inspires students to believe in themselves and to set future goals. It is our desire to spark that belief in just one life at a time because a degree from Averett University will provide the stepping stone for a successful life path and tomorrow’s leadership.”

Pattie Cairns '74

Past President Averett Alumni Association

"We gave a Planned Gift Scholarship because we wanted to give back to local students in my major. Nobody should have to give up on their dreams because of a lack of money. We can help fix that."


James Thurnes '07, '12


When James Thurnes ’07, ’12, filled out his college application, he didn’t know he was going to make a lifetime commitment to his alma mater. But Thurnes has become one of the youngest alumni in Averett’s history to join the 1859 Legacy Society, which consists of members who wish to leave a legacy at Averett through a planned gift.

He came to Averett as a freshman from Newport News in 2003. As a member of the Honors Program, as a football player, and as an active participant in clubs and organizations, he was very involved in student life. After graduating, he decided to stay at Averett and work full-time as the University’s campus guest coordinator. Eventually, he decided he would pursue a second Averett degree through the Graduate and Professional Studies Program, and in 2012, he completed his MBA with honors.

Thurnes’ work with students and parents visiting Averett exposed him to many of the challenges faced by families looking to finance their son’s or daughter’s education. He wanted to give back by helping future Averett students and their families. And he found a creative way to do so.

Through Averett’s planned giving program, Thurnes, age 27, was able to structure a life insurance policy with premiums of $50 a month which, when realized, will result in a $170,000 gift to Averett. “It was really important to me to be able to make a meaningful gift to the University,” he said. “But I was at the beginning of my career, and I didn’t have a lot of disposable income. I decided how much I could afford monthly, and my policy is based on that.”

“I am continually amazed by the generosity of Averett alumni and friends,” said Buddy Rawley ’75, vice president for institutional advancement. “While there are those like James who notify us of their intentions to leave a planned gift to the University, there are also many who do not. It is only when these donors’ estates are settled that the University learns of their tremendous generosity.”

Naturally, some planned gift donors designate how their gifts should be used, but often their gifts are unrestricted, which allows the University to seize new opportunities at the time the gift is received that may never have been imagined by the donor. These gifts combined with others help ensure Averett is sustainable far into the future for Thurnes’ children and grandchildren.

“It’s weird to think of leaving a legacy in my twenties,” Thurnes says, “but I like feeling that what I’m doing makes a difference and will live on.”


Averett Society

Annual Giving

Planned Giving

campaign document
Grateful Students
  • Paul Porter, Class of '14

    "My scholarships have provided me with the opportunity to be a first generation college student. Without these scholarships I would not have been able to accomplish any of the dreams that I have realized in my time as a Cougar, such as double majoring in accounting and business management while being a four year member of the men’s basketball team."


  • Callie Burnette, Class of '13

    "The scholarships have helped tremendously. I have a younger sibling who is also attending college, so my scholarships have really helped lessen the financial load on my parents and me. I'm so thankful to the donors of my scholarships because they've allowed young people like me to get an excellent education and to pursue the career of our choice."


  • Brentt Simmons, Class of '13

    "Since I came to Averett, my love and passion for music have grown, and I have become a better musician. I have gained knowledge and skills that I will need in my music career. The scholarships I have received have helped me tremendously. Without the generosity of my scholarship donors, paying for tuition would have been very difficult. I'm very grateful to the donors and appreciate their generosity. It means a lot to me that someone was willing to invest in me and believe in me."


  • Shane Brogden, Class of '14

    "The scholarships I receive thanks to Averett's generous donors make college affordable for my family and me. Without these funds, I would be forced to find employment to support my education and not have as much time to study and focus on my schoolwork. I have learned that Averett truly cares about their students and will do anything to help us get our education. I am thankful for every donor who has given and allows me to a part of this exceptional educational experience."