Essay by Averett President Featured in 2015 Progress Edition

Posted on March 13th, 2015 by Travis Dix

An essay written by Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks is featured in the Chatham Star-Tribune’s 2015 Progress Edition ( This special edition, now in its fifth year of publication, offers local and regional leaders the opportunity to reflect on their institutions’ progress during the past year and to share their vision for the future. You can read the full text of Dr. Franks’s essay below.


In the 2013 Progress Edition, I wrote that Averett University’s progress was “in overdrive.” In last year’s edition, I said that we hadn’t let up on the accelerator. 

This year, I’m happy to report that we’ve continued to keep the proverbial “pedal to the metal.”

Fueling Averett’s progress has been the remarkable success of our first comprehensive capital campaign.

After publicly launching our campaign only 28 months ago (on October 26, 2012), we have already met our goal of $25 million. In fact, we recently surpassed $26 million and our generous benefactors are now urging us to keep forging ahead toward the $30 million mark.

Our fundraising success has helped make many exciting, even historic, accomplishments possible.

On February 18, 2014, with great fanfare, Averett celebrated the Grand Opening of Phase One of the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center. The $2.3 million Phase One improvements include a dramatically expanded lobby and much more, providing an elegant gathering and performance space for the arts community unlike any other in the region.

On April 24, 2014, we broke ground on Phase One of Averett’s new Sports Complex, complete with state-of-the-art synthetic turf and lighting. The newly christened Daly Field was completed in time for the kickoff of Averett’s 2014 football season, and at Homecoming, an all-time record crowd of more than 2,700 people enjoyed being part of an historic event: Averett’s first night football game.

At press time, Averett is within $250,000 of having our $6.5 million Sports Complex completely funded. Our impressive new stadium will ultimately include new stands, a new press box, a president’s suite, coach’s offices, concession stands and restrooms.

On August 28, 2014, the University announced the receipt of a $1,929,750 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation for the creation of the new Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC). Working closely with students, faculty and staff from Averett University, Danville Community College and Piedmont Community College, the CCECC has three main areas of focus:

  1. Service-Learning: Service-learning programs empower students to learn from direct experience while serving the needs of the community; i.e., to take lessons learned in the classroom and apply them to real-life situations. Students thereby gain invaluable experience in their chosen fields, making them more attractive to prospective employers.
  2. Community Engagement: Imagine empowering 1,000 or more students to fan out across the region and to volunteer their services to area nonprofits. Imagine the difference those students will make in the lives of people most in need. This is the kind of life-changing community engagement the CCECC will make possible in the years to come.
  3. Career Competitiveness: The emphasis here is on: a) helping students find internships with businesses or nonprofit organizations in this region — internships that are mutually beneficial to both the students and the businesses or nonprofit organizations for whom the students are working; b) mentoring students and helping them build strong résumés; and c) ultimately helping students find rewarding employment in this region – i.e., the kind of careers that will make our talented young people want to stay in this region.

On September 25, 2014, for the first time in school history, Averett held a special white coat ceremony to honor our first graduating class of nursing students. Thirteen Averett students donned their white coats and each was individually honored during the presentation.

There are currently 71 students enrolled in Averett’s innovative Nursing program, including 20 undergraduate students in our entry-into-practice Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, plus 51 students in our RN to BSN track. In addition, there are 50 more candidates in our pre-nursing program who will be applying for spots in our entry-into-practice BSN program this summer and fall.

Under the leadership of our Director of Autism Studies, Dr. Jill Hamlin, new undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Autism Studies were offered face-to-face this past fall, and this spring all of Averett’s Autism Studies courses are being offered both face-to-face and online.

Averett’s Graduate and Professional Studies Program offers many excellent online courses for working adults. Indeed, in addition to the RN to BSN degree, adults can now earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, a Bachelor of Business Administration, or a B.S. in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Averett online. They can also earn the following valuable degrees either online or face-to-face through any of Averett’s 11 campuses across the Commonwealth: an MBA in Marketing or in Leadership or in Human Resource Management; a Master of Accountancy; or a Master in Education in Curriculum and Instruction, or in Special Education, or in Administration and Supervision Concentration.

Affordable Colleges Foundation, a leading resource for online learning and college affordability information, is so impressed by the quality of our online courses, they recently ranked Averett 12th in the U.S. among the Best Online Christian Colleges for 2015.

Averett University’s exciting progress on so many fronts continues to impress other top third-party reviewers as well:

  • For the second consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Averett among the top 25 Regional Colleges in the South in its Best Colleges guide. Averett is the highest-ranking Virginia school among the 74 top tier schools listed as Regional Colleges.
  • Also for the second consecutive year, The Princeton Review has ranked Averett as one of the “Best in the Southeast” in its “Best Colleges: Region by Region” guide.
  • Affordable Colleges Online has ranked Averett as one of Virginia’s top colleges for return on investment.
  • ranked Averett third in Virginia for campus safety.
  • For the fifth consecutive year, Averett has been ranked among the top 20 percent of America’s most military-friendly schools by G.I. Jobs magazine.
  • Colleges of Distinction has named Averett a 2014-2015 College of Distinction, “chosen for its continued commitment to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes.”

Finally, Averett recently launched a new website. We invite you to visit us online at and to follow us on Twitter.

Better yet, come to one of our sporting events, enjoy one of our theatre productions, attend one of our CoffeeHouse lectures, take an online course, refer a student to Averett or donate to a program or a cause near and dear to your heart. We hope you’ll think of Averett as your hometown university and that you’ll join the Averett family as we continue to bring inspiring progress to this wonderful region we call home.