Averett University Honors 2022 Averett Alumni Award Recipients at Homecoming

Posted on October 11th, 2022 by Matt Bell

Five accomplished Averett University alumni were honored at this year’s Averett Homecoming.

The Averett Alumni Association and Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks presented the University’s annual awards program at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, at Averett’s Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center. On Saturday, Oct. 8, the recipients were presented during halftime at the football game at Averett’s Frank R. Campbell Stadium.

“The 2022 alumni award recipients have accomplished so much and should be celebrated for their achievements. It is so incredible to read their stories and then think of the impact they have had. Students are told all the time at Averett that we have their backs, while it’s the alumni who have Averett’s back,” Averett Director of Alumni and Constituent Relations Joel Nester said.

This year, the Alumni Association honored recipients of the Mary Jo Davis Lifetime Service Award, the Recent Alumni Award, the Fugate-Davis Women’s Leadership Award and two Distinguished Alumni Awards.

For 2022, the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Joel Butts ’83 and Ken Copeland ’89.

Since graduating from Averett, Butts has founded Twelve3One Ministries and has become part of one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the 21st century – helping those affected by the war in Ukraine.

Butts received the Distinguished Alumni Award for his work to provide aid, support, food, money, clothing and basic necessities to the people of Ukraine during the ongoing war.

For the last 15 years, Butts and his missionaries have ministered to the Ukrainian people. He developed a business model that allowed for his ministry to grow and flourish by being led by those who live and work in Ukraine.

As written in his nomination letter: “After the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Joel began making regular trips to Ukraine. It was during these trips he began to see additional needs and ways his ministry needed to assist various people. All of this done by simply asking, ‘How can I help?’ That same question has echoed throughout 2022 for Joel and his ministry… they are going into the battle zones to lend a helping hand for the Ukrainian people.”

While he continues providing comfort and support for those in Ukraine he has ministered alongside, Butts has remained calm and vigilant throughout the entire ordeal. He is continuously fundraising and finding ways to help those in need in Ukraine, all from Nashville, Tn.

Copeland has had a career in finance and banking after graduating from Averett with a degree in accounting. While he went on to earn other academic achievements, his nominator writes it is what he did with his Averett degree that serves as an excellent illustration of what is possible after graduation.

“[He] is one of those rare individuals able to perfectly balance career, extended family, worship and community service, recreation and friendships. I can attest that Ken is widely acknowledged and respected for his leadership, communication, transparency, warmth, wit, strategic skills and financial expertise,” they wrote.

After graduation, Copeland worked for an accounting firm in Rocky Mount, Va. before becoming the first branch manager and business analyst for the Longwood Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) in Martinsville, Va. in 1997. From there, he became the Director of Economic Development for Longwood University and oversaw the LSBDC.

Because of his role and leadership, hundreds of jobs were created due to Copeland’s work in the LSBDC.

Currently, Copeland serves as the Vice President for Business Affairs & Finance at Hampden-Sydney College and lives in Farmville, Va. with his wife Kathryn.

This year’s Mary Jo Davis Outstanding Alumni Award recipient is Jan Clarke ’82. This award is presented to graduates who have contributed to Averett and the community at large in a manner similar to long-time alumna and employee Mary Jo Davis.

Clarke is a former colleague of Davis, the award’s namesake. During his time at Averett, Clarke was the director of planned giving. It is because of his work Averett has many working relationships still today.

“While at Averett, Jan was a friend to many Averett alumni particularly those who needed extra assistance. He would do everything from fix plumbing to deliver groceries to those who needed help. He is still known today for his quiet, generous spirit,” wrote the nominator. “He embodies the spirit of Mary Jo Davis and her dedication to Averett.”

Clarke currently serves as assistant vice president of gift planning at the University of Mary Washington, where he has been since 2004.

The Recent Distinguished Alumni Award, given to an alumnus who has graduated from the University in the last 10 years for their professional or humanitarian efforts, is Lydie Kodio ’22.

During her time at Averett, Kodio was heavily involved in volunteer service and leadership opportunities, all while earning two degrees in business administration with a focus in management sciences, and communications.

Kodio served as the vice president for the Black Student Union, and the vice president for the International Life Club.

Her nomination letter read: “My moments with Lydie began during her time as an active member of the club, Sister4Sister. She and her members presented at a ‘girl talk’ event to encourage young females to be leaders. Her inspiration stood out from most with examples of how she defined leadership. The young ladies admired her courageous efforts, as Lydie is very soft spoken.”

Kodio also served as a student ambassador, a writing consultant, a communications and French tutor and a multimedia editor for The Chanticleer.

“Her leadership, professionalism and service imitates the Averett University mission to prepare students to serve and lead as catalyst for positive change,” wrote the nominator.

Sallie Vick ’70 is the Fugate-Davis Women’s Leadership Award recipient.

Vick has spent a lifetime in service to others through Virginia’s Department of Social Services. Through serving those who are underprivileged, Vick helps those in crisis and other situations find food, housing and more.

In addition to her humanitarian work, Vick has performed missions work through her home church in Franklin, Va., and supported the University and fellow alumni through letters, promotions and acknowledgements. She is also the 1970 class representative.

In 2014 The Women’s Leadership Award was created to recognize Female Leaders. It was originally started with a giving circle of alumni that gave to a fund that was established to support a speaker series and other projects of the Women’s Leadership Circle. Since 2014, one woman has been chosen each year to be recognized as a leader. They may or may not be associated with the University. The award recipient has been chosen by the Women’s Leadership Circle Committee.

Averett Athletics also inducted eight former student athletes into the hall of fame. The 2022 class featured eight former student-athletes — men’s basketball standout Damien Brown ’09, women’s volleyball standout Kasey Carpenter Ogden ’08, softball standout Taylor Dix Paschal ’16, football’s Mario Huffman ’09, women’s volleyball’s Marie Keatts Boor ’10, football’s Terrance Owens II ’16/’18M, baseball’s Eric Sibrizzi ’10/14M and softball’s Mary Beth Smith ’16. Read more by clicking here.

View pictures from the event here, and learn more about Averett’s 2022 Homecoming by clicking here.