Averett University’s Faculty, Staff and Retiree Appreciation Celebration Held

Posted on May 7th, 2024 by Bill Dyer

Averett University held its annual Faculty, Staff and Retiree Appreciation Celebration Thursday, May 2, in the Carrington Recreation Gym.

The event highlights the outstanding work of the University’s faculty and staff, recognizes special awards and accomplishments within the University community and honors those retiring from their service to Averett.

“No matter what role you play at Averett, no matter how long you have been here, or will be here, this time is about you,” Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks said. “What we will celebrate on Saturday at Commencement is a testament to your contributions, your gift, your talent; what you pour into our students; what you do to care for the campus.”

This year, four retirees were recognized for their achievements.

The first retiree recognized was Kristi Gilliam, who served as the Averett University Registrar from 2017-2023.

“Kristi’s tenure saw significant changes, especially during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Franks said. “Beyond her professional achievements, Kristi’s personal touch will leave a lasting impression. She is known for her open-door policy — welcoming everyone with a smile and providing a listening ear.”

The second retiree to be recognized was Wanda Haynes, who served the University for 18 years.

“As the face of Frith Hall, Wanda ensured that everything ran smoothly, from onboarding new faculty to coordinating with facilities for office moves. She made sure that keys, IDs and parking passes were ready for new faculty by the first day of classes,” Franks said.

The third retiree that was recognized was Laura Meder, who taught Biological and Physical Sciences from 1977-2023.

“Laura’s teaching style stood out throughout her career for its interactive and hands-on approach. She engaged students through small group discussions and activities like Habitat for Humanity, and her study abroad trips were legendary. Students traveled to destinations like Africa, Belize, Costa Rica and Russia to study birds, plants, mammals and more. Former students and colleagues praised her kindness, dedication, and ability to inspire,” Franks said.

The final retiree recognized was the late Barbara Kushubar ’75, who passed away in late March. Kushubar taught and coached at her alma mater from 1987 until 2024.

“Heaven knows all of Averett valued Barbara Kushubar,” Franks said. “Whether you knew her as Kush … Barb … Golfing Buddy … Coach K … or Professor Kushubar, you knew that she cared.  She put students first — and not just while she was at work. They were first in her life as a coach, as a mentor, as a teacher and as a loyal friend.

A number or awards are recognitions were made for faculty and staff members for distinguished service to the University.

The Outstanding Faculty Member award, presented by Vice President of Academic Affairs Ginger Henderson ’91, was shared by Professor of Communications Dr. Susan Huckstep and Professor of Sociology Dr. Adrienne Brune.

The Outstanding Staff Member award was awarded to Director of International Student Services and Cultural Programs Tammy Jackson and Interim University Registrar Ashley Bowman ’18.

Two faculty members, Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Nina Huff and Assistant Theatre Professor Giuseppe Ritorto, were recognized for earning tenure this academic year.

New this year were the Averett’s Values in Action Awards – a group of five awards that recognize those employees who most exemplified the University’s 11 values. These included:

Curiosity, Imagination and Relevancy Award

Clarice LaBua ’18

Dr. Tonitta McNeal

Drew Wilson

Growth and Learning Award

Dr. Marc Muneal

Emma Olsson ’14, ‘16

Agility and Transformation Award

Dr. Teresa Beach

April Love-Loveless

Kristi Phillips

Faith and Integrity Award

Dana Mehalko

Tammy Wall

Inclusivity and Openness Award

Dr. Nina Huff

Joel Nester ’00,12 ’

Other recognitions included acknowledgements of those who have earned a degree in the past year or reached a milestone year of service to Averett. A list of those names can be found HERE.

To view a photo gallery from the celebration, please click HERE.