Annual Faculty, Staff and Retiree Appreciation Celebration Held Thursday

Posted on May 7th, 2021 by Matt Bell

Averett University’s annual Faculty, Staff and Retiree Appreciation Celebration returned to an in-person setting Thursday, May 6, but this time outdoors.

Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks first hosted retirees from the past two years in an intimate setting at the President’s Suite inside the Frank R. Campbell Stadium at Averett’s E. Stuart James Grant North Campus, before joining all faculty and staff on Daly Field for the full ceremony that celebrates their milestones and accomplishments and honors retirees.

“Here’s the lesson of the 2020 pandemic: When things were at their worst, Averett was at its best,” Franks said. “There are countless examples of how you, how we as one community, one Averett Family, worked day and night to care for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. We truly were at our best. You were at your best!”

Because the COVID-19 pandemic moved everything to a virtual setting in 2020 for the University, there was no formal recognition ceremony or awards for retirees, faculty or staff. Thursday’s ceremony was the first since 2019.

This year, nine retirees were recognized for their achievements:

  • Donna Schweiger served as the tracking specialist for Averett Online, (formerly the Graduate and Professional Studies program) for 12 years from 2008-2020.
  • Linda Lemery worked at the University from 2005-2021 and retires as the Blount Library circulation manager.
  • Deborah Touchstone came to Averett in 2002 and is retiring after serving as the Blount Library administrative assistant.
  • Sherry McDowell retired in 2020 after 19 years of service in various roles in advancement, and most recently as assistant to the Institutional Advancement office.
  • Joan Kahwajy-Anderson retired in 2019 after 22 years of service as the director of counseling services.
  • Gloria Robertson served Averett as faculty secretary for 30 years from 1990-2020.
  • Steve Wray served Averett as professor of sociology and criminal justice for 33 years until 2020, teaching more than 7,300 students, 900 courses and sections, 92 different courses and in 11 different departments and programs.
  • Steve Lemery, associate professor in Averett’s Department of Math and Science, served for 40 years until 2021, lecturing in various math and computer courses at all levels, eventually teaching mostly computer science.
  • Jack (Jay) Hayes taught at Averett for 45 years before retiring in 2020. Of those years, 41 was spent serving as a department chair, and he was the first Wilbur Clarence Daniel Professor of History and Political Science, which he served in for 27 years.

“This feels like a long time coming to be able to celebrate with you and your time at Averett. There aren’t enough opportunities to be able to say thank you to all of you,” Franks said.

Each year, one faculty member and one staff member are awarded for distinguished service to the University.

The Outstanding Faculty Member award, presented by Dr. Fulop, was awarded to Dr. Melanie Lewis, program director of athletic training and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Education, Wellness and Sports Science. She was described by the person who nominated her as, “one who has truly embraced listening and making Averett the best place it can be for faculty, staff and students.”

The Outstanding Staff Member award, presented by Averett Staff Council President Liz Cervantes, was awarded to Dr. Billy Wooten, executive director of the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) at Averett, for his “unwavering leadership that has helped cultivate Averett as a family and the community to see Averett’s commitment despite challenges.” During the winter months, Dr. Wooten took on assisting with rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations to area residents and the Averett community and with his help, thousands across the region have now been vaccinated.

The following faculty and staff members were recognized for their milestone years of service to Averett:

45 years
Diane Kendrick, Professor, Art

40 Years
Steve Lemery, Professor, Computer Science

30 years
Danny Miller, Assistant Director, Athletics & Head Volleyball Coach
Gloria Robertson, Faculty Secretary
Dr. Gary Tucker, Professor, Mathematics

25 years
Richard Breen, Professor, Theatre
Dr. David Rosenberg, Professor, Psychology

20 years
Angie Bowers, Admissions Office Manager, Coordinator of Applications Processing
Carl Bradsher, Director, Student Financial Services
Diane Gosney, Philanthropy Services Manager
Joel Nester, Associate Vice President and Director of Admissions – Enrollment Services

15 years
Cheryl Dalton, CRM Administrator and Communications Liaison
Christy Davis, Assistant Director of Non-Traditional Admissions
Wanda Haynes, Administrative Assistant to the Faculty
Ginger Henderson, Associate Professor, Equestrian Studies
Sandy Isom, Assistant Controller
Linda Lemery, Circulation Manager Blount Library
Sheila Smithers, Records Specialist
Travis Williams, Chief Flight Instructor

10 years
Peggy Adkins, Library Document Delivery Specialist
Dr. Andrew Canady, Associate Professor of History and Honors Program Director
Dr. Catherine Clark, Associate Professor, French & English and Director of Study Abroad
Gena Cook, Sales Associate
Otis Johnson, Food SVC Utility
Dr. Melanie Lewis, Program Director of Athletic Training & Assistant Professor Department of Physical Education, Wellness & Sports Science
Dana Nelson, Bookstore Manager
Debbie Pike, Administrative Assistant
Shannon Price, Sales Associate
Buddy Rawley, Special Assistant to the Vice President of Philanthropy and former Vice President of Philanthropy
Jennifer Robinson, Technical Services Librarian, Assistant Professor
Lisa Stewart, Associate VP of Finance and Controller
Bren Taylor, Director of Operations, Sr. Woman Administrator, Athletics
Thomas Underwood, Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer
Tammy Wall, Sr. Accountant/Benefits Coordinator

5 years
Cyndie Basinger, Executive Assistant to the President
Katherine Bishop, Coordinator of Enrollment Communications and Innovative Partnerships
Dr. Adrienne Brunei, Associate Professor, Sociology
Christy Davis, Assistant Director of GPS Admissions
Jennifer Freeze, Assistant Chief Flight Instructor
Justin Hall, Costume Shop Supervisor & Designer
Dr. David Hanbury, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Kimberly Hodges, Cook
Sara Hodges, Assistant Director of Admissions
Penny Hudson, Student Success Coach
Katie Johnston, Coordinator of Enrollment Services
Cassie Jones, Executive Director of University Marketing and Communications
Lynnette Lawson, Executive Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Financial & Operating Officer
John Lovell, Telecommunications Technician/Specialist
Tony Mackin, Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach
Kaitlin Marvin, New Start Coordinator
Angie McAdams, Director of Career Development
Dr. Marc Muneal, Associate Professor, English
Jonathan Nichels, Military Site and Support Liaison, Quantico Marine Base – Education Center
Dr. Ernest Pegram, Assistant Economics Professor
Dr. Janet Phillips, Assistant Professor of Music
Kristi Phillips, Payroll Associate
Bert Poole, Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach
Michael Ragsdale, Food SVC Utility
Kelly Ryan, Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach
Virginia Stanley, Instructional Designer
Mary Sullivan, Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success
Dr. Charles Wuest, Assistant Professor of English