Averett Celebrates Founders’ Day and 165th Birthday

Posted on January 26th, 2024 by Bill Dyer

Averett University held its annual Founders’ Day celebration Thursday, Jan. 25, in Pritchett Auditorium in the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center.

Dr. Robert Adams ’80, Shakeva Frazier ’20 and Student Government Association freshman representative Addison Stanfield delivered a charge to students during their speeches at the celebration.

Adams, a retired radiation and oncology physician, told the assembled crowd of his indirect, but ultimately fateful path to Averett. After a family emergency, Adams transferred to Averett and began his path to a fulfilling liberal arts education.

“The liberal arts curriculum at Averett taught me to understand the concepts of intellectual hard work in process I was taught the process of deconstructing difficult S.T.E.M. problems editing written papers and how to work on large projects by developing the ability to break down the whole into parts to achieve higher level goals,” Adams said.

Adams spoke of the important role his Averett education played in his future successes. He told of developing the proper skills to marry science and innovation into his chosen field of high-level radiation oncology.

“All things that I accomplished in my career link back to the liberal arts education afforded to me at a favorite University during the past 40 years. The broad ranges of courses in the arts and sciences I took at Averett did not specifically match either my occupation or academic research agenda but having an Averett liberal arts education taught me that intellectual hard work processes and differential perception blur the lines between observations and imagination.

Frazier, a community activist, board member of many organizations in the Danville area and Executive Director of Third Chance, spoke about her non-traditional journey to Averett and the education that she uses to help so many in the region.

“There are two things that I think about when I think about a university, and that’s community and preparation, Frazier said. “When I first came to Averett, it was so, so welcoming.”

Frazier recalled being a young girl in a nearby neighborhood and dreaming of attending Averett. She went in depth on the troubles she encountered along her path and how, after finding religion, changed her course and went on to earn an associate degree. It was then her dream of getting an education at Averett turned into a reality.

“I would encourage you, as students in this process, to make relationships with the staff here, with the faculty. They really are rooting for you. Professors who would not let me give up.

“Averett is like a church and I believe that every church shouldn’t just be within the walls, it’s what you do outside of the walls that matters. I encourage you all to stay motivated to stay linked up and to think about where to go outside the walls.

Stanfield, in her charge to students, explained how, despite being just a freshman, she has taken the time thus far in her collegiate career to become involved and to grow.

“I am a Bonner Leader, I am a part of SGA, Sisters for Sisters, a nursing student and on the cheer team. I am also a type 1 diabetic. While my time here has been short, considering I’m only a freshman, I have loved every minute of it this far. This university to me is not just a regular university, it is my home away from home. It’s not usual to see a commuter student at a university Monday through Sunday.

“Here’s my charge to you. Take the time to get to know someone new. Build relationships with faculty and staff members. Work on your time management and start the year off strong with success.”

Stanfield also had a message to the non-students in attendance. “Be a reflection of your own role model. Be confident in the life you are working on or the life you have already created. My own personal role model once told me in life don’t let the small stuff bother you and everything is the small stuff.”

Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks spoke to the ever-changing University and paid tribute to the Founders that helped grow Averett into the institution it has become today.

“On this very special day, we celebrate Averett’s longevity and the great fortune that each of us has in being part of this remarkable, living, thriving institution.

“Now, as we commemorate this milestone birthday, let’s all look back with pride and forward with anticipation,” Franks said. “Look to those who have studied here and who’ve experienced significant and meaningful academic personal and professional growth and now are numbered among our more than 24,000 graduates around the world. Look to our faculty and our staff members who’ve inspired countless students in absolutely every way imaginable and look to you, our current students. All of you are the reason all of us are here and have invested the last 165 years in preparing for you and for your success.”

The Averett Singers, along with Professor of Music Dr. Anne Lewis on piano, sang a selection and led the audience in Averett’s “Alma Mater”. Dr. David Hanbury carried the University Mace and University Chaplain Sean Timmons delivered the invocation and benediction.

Following the program in the auditorium, the audience was invited to the Cougar Den dining hall for a celebration of the University’s 165th birthday. The Show Choir performed for the celebrants and there was a birthday cake which was served following the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to the University.