Averett University Holds 158th Convocation in University’s History

Posted on August 17th, 2016 by Cassie Jones

Averett University welcomed its newest class of incoming and returning students at the annual Convocation ceremony on August 16, a tradition dating back to the university’s beginning in 1859.

The official opening ceremony, held in the Pritchett Auditorium of the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center, began with an invocation from University Chaplain Rev. Skyler Daniel, followed by Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks welcoming all to the 2016-17 academic year.

Dr. Franks later delivered the convocation address, “Im-Possible,” in which she drew inspiration from two unlikely paired historic figures: Muhammed Ali and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Former first lady Roosevelt once said, “To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.” Dr. Franks used this to illustrate a number of good practices for both the head and the heart that she hopes to impress upon the students.

“Averett is here to instill in you the right habits – for your head and your heart,” she said. “Use your head to make smart choices, and your heart to stay strong and committed.”

Some of the habits of the mind she recommended were to remain curious, be prepared, never settle for mediocrity, and always seek feedback. For habits of the heart, she encouraged developing coping skills, paying your dues, staying generous, and to always be kind.

“With the right habits of mind and heart, you can do anything,” Dr. Franks said, leading her to the quote from world champion boxer, Ali.

“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

Before closing, Dr. Franks left the crowd with one final piece of advice: “Live smart. Live with heart. And help others do the impossible.”

Dr. Timothy Fulop, vice president for academic affairs and student success, recognized the more than 70 presidential scholars, as well as the Faculty Council chair and Staff Council president. Lesley Villarose, dean of students, introduced the newest leaders of the Student Government Association (SGA), swearing them in on stage in front of the more than 600 university members in attendance. She was followed by remarks from Corey Thompson, 2016-17 president of the Averett SGA. Director of Alumni and Friend Development, Dan Hayes, ’92, recognized five alumni from the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s, 1950s and 1940s, who served as representatives of the more than 25,000 Averett alumni who came before this entering class.

Joel Nester ’00, ’12, director of admissions and international counselor, depicted Averett’s entering class, which includes 320 new students, 239 who are first-time students, 74 transfers and seven who were readmitted. Of those 320, 45 percent are female and 55 percent male, and half are first-generation students. Ten of the entering students have military ties, and the average GPA of this entering class is 3.2.

This year’s entering students come from 12 states, to include: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ney York, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia. Fifteen students also represent six foreign countries: Argentina, Bahamas, England, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The top three majors chosen by these students are physical education (half who are in the athletic training concentration), biological and physical science, and business administration, and although not one of the top three chosen, Averett’s aeronautics program welcomed a record number of 31 news students this year.

The pomp and circumstance of the centuries-old tradition included the carrying of the ceremonial mace by a Faculty Council member, leading the procession of the faculty, staff and alumni in full academic regalia. The ceremony ended with the singing of the university’s Alma Mater by Dr. Gary Tucker, ’85, professor of mathematics, a benediction from Rev. Daniel, and the recessional.

Today is the first day of classes for all Averett students.