President’s Council

Averett University’s President’s Council is the administrative team consisting of the University President and her Vice Presidents, who oversee all functions and operations of the University.

Dr. Tiffany M. Franks

Stop any Averett student anywhere — the airfield, the horse stables, the nursing school, the athletics center … any classroom or residence hall. Ask them if they personally know the president, Dr. Franks, and 99 out of 100 will tell you this: “Of course! She’s at almost every event. Not only that, I’ve even had dinner with her and her husband, in the president’s house!”

That’s because every student is invited to do that, usually in groups of 16, in their first year at Averett. It gives them a real sense of belonging, of fitting in, of being recognized and appreciated.

It gives them, in other words, tangible evidence of being a valued member of The Averett Family.

The experience, meaningful as it is to each student, also affords Dr. Franks the opportunity to ask serious questions and get helpful answers about life as a student at Averett University.

Dr. Franks does this, year after year, because she wants to get to know each student and to learn about how things are working in the eyes of those who matter most— the students.

Besides, she’ll always point out, “You WANT to be with our students!”

Her genuine enthusiasm and love for Averett’s students are apparent always, and certainly at athletic game times. At the really big moments, such as when going for a championship, she and her husband, Joe, have been known to take to the field or the floor and lead the crowd in cheers.

They do the same at tailgating time before events. Literal as well as figurative cheerleaders.

Dr. Franks is inspired daily by the passion of the entire Averett Family; she feeds it and feeds off it. She always tells prospective students to come, visit, see for themselves the diversity, the caring attitude, the family feeling that Averett exudes.

She says: “If you’re considering enrolling, come talk to us in person. Let us tell you how we can help you accomplish your dreams. Let us show you how we give a highly personal education, how we provide the best net of support possible all around you. Come see that it’s right. If it is, we’ll work with you to make it happen.”

That can-do attitude is hers, all day, every day. It infuses the whole faculty, the staff, the administration … Averett, top to bottom, is focused on one thing — the success of its students. And the catalyst and chief inspiration is its president, Dr. Tiffany Franks.


Dr. Tiffany McKillip Franks has more than 33 years of senior-level administrative experience in higher education in a broad range of areas including student affairs, enrollment management and advancement. She received a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania; a Master of Science in Education from The Ohio State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Ohio Dominican University. She was inaugurated as Averett President in 2008.

Dr. S. Lee Beaumont
Vice President for Enrollment Management and University Marketing




Ginger Henderson
Vice President for Academic Affairs

When we meet Averett’s Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Ginger Henderson outside her office, she comments on her clothing with a sentence you’ll likely not hear from any other VPAA in America: “I’m dressed for barn work.” And she means it literally.

She’s on her way to work in a barn because that’s still part of her job — teaching a riding class in the Equestrian Department … as well as advising students and helping run weekend horse shows.

Henderson’s love of and expertise in all things equine is recognized nationally, but she also is enjoying the challenges and successes of the role of overseeing Academic Affairs.

“We have truly outstanding faculty members at Averett, and it’s a pleasure to be in a position where I can support the great work they’re doing as well as help grow and shape the curricula that will prepare our students for their futures.”

Henderson knows firsthand how what you study and experience can shape your future, especially at Averett, because she was an Averett undergraduate herself. That was back when it was Averett College; how have things changed since her days?

“We now have a laser-sharp focus on student success! That goal absolutely guides and defines every decision we make, way more even than when I came back here in 2006 to work. The Galesi Student Success Center, all of Student Life, our expanded student support services, our Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness with its strong internships and service learning opportunities … it’s an impressive list of talented people here, all dedicated to making sure that our students have whatever help and experiences they need to succeed.”

She also is convinced that Averett’s level of student support is what sets the University apart from other schools: “It sounds like a cliché, or a marketing tool, when we talk about ‘The Averett Family,’ but it is true. Here’s some proof —

‘Last weekend we did an Equestrian Open house. We had five students and their parents here on Friday night — dinner at the cafeteria then Saturday a clinic at the barn. Current students joined us for the dinner.

‘We all stayed at the cafeteria until 8:30, listening to current students talk to prospects about life at Averett. One Equestrian student also plays football and baseball for us, and he specifically told the visitors that you hear about the Averett Family all the time, and it is true!

‘He said there is NO ONE on this campus who is not here to support you. And, he added with amazement, as a student you’ll even go to the Averett President’s house for dinner.’ That was truly his lived experience — two hours of unsolicited, heartfelt testimonial.”

Here are her own words for prospective students: “If you are looking for your next home, and want an environment where you will be supported, challenged and prepared for your future, then Averett is the place for you.”

She adds that if/when you visit, drop in and tell her Hello.


Ms. Ginger Henderson has served Averett University as Professor of Equestrian Studies, Chair of the Equestrian Studies Department and Coach of the Intercollegiate Dressage Team. She is a Certified Level III Dressage and Level I Eventing Instructor, a Certified Mental Health and Equine Specialist and a licensed Mental Health Counselor. In addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Development from Averett, she also earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Horse Management and Production from Ohio State University; a Master of Education degree in Counseling from Lynchburg College; and she completed postgraduate courses in Counseling from Longwood University. She joined Averett in 2006, and she oversees the Registrar’s Office and all undergraduate and graduate academic operations at Averett, including those of the Averett Online programs.

Dr. Venita Mitchell
Vice President of Student Engagement and Senior Student Experience Officer

If you watch Dr. Venita Mitchell walk — into an Averett athletic event, perhaps, or leaving her office … anywhere, really — you’ll immediately see her as a leader, a professional, and a bright and kind person.

That’s a lot to notice from just a bit of walking, but she has such confidence, awareness and dedication that it only takes you a moment to feel all that.

This is a Vice President who arrived at Averett needing to set up offices, and she chose her current location because, as she puts it, “It’s in an area heavily traveled by students. And that’s why we’re here, to understand and serve all of our students.”

There is no question that she and her team work nonstop to develop Averett students into involved, engaged, active learners who are invested as fully as possible into activities outside the classroom … all to support what they do in the classroom.

“Students spend a great deal of time and money here, and it’s a very important investment in their future selves. We work to maximize their return on that investment.”

She goes to as many student activities as possible, and she often eats lunch with students. Not the same ones, either: “I try to move around so I can meet and learn about all kinds of students. And it’s great,” she says, “in that they’re always welcoming, eager to let me join them and then to let me learn about their experiences here, their individual Averett stories.”

The students are impressive, she says. “One of the main reasons I chose to join Averett is the diversity it offers in its student body, with demographics that cover the whole range of students. And because we have representation from so many ages and ethnicities and countries — and because so many are first-generation students — they tend to be very welcoming, eager to help each other.”

That kind of camaraderie and openness are important, she adds: “Averett students are very community-oriented, showing that they genuinely care about other students’ experiences. They’re very goal-oriented, they’re not here frivolously. They truly want to create the best possible experiences for each other, and that’s where my team and I are eager to help.”

Her message to those who are considering enrolling at Averett is a simple one: “We are committed to your unique experiences — we are here to help you develop in the ways that are the very best for you.”


Dr. Venita Mitchell has more than three decades of experience in higher education administration, most recently serving as vice president and dean of student life for 18 years at William Woods University (Fulton, MO). She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri and both a Master of Science in Recreation, Parks and Tourism and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She joined Averett in July 2021.

Meg Stevens
Vice President and Director of Athletics and Campus Operations

If you’re a student-athlete at Averett University, you know Athletic Director Meg Stevens. You know her, you pay attention to her, you probably love her and you certainly respect her.

This woman is a force of nature. She never stops, and everything she does is aimed at one goal only: student success.

As a nationally recognized athlete and coach, Stevens is both immediately likeable and relentlessly competitive. And she quickly tells each new student-athlete what they need to accomplish to fit her definition of successful: “I want only two things from you,” she explains, “a degree and conference ring.”

She also adds that she wants them in that order. The degree is why you’re here, she says. You must succeed in the classroom. That is the priority. Athletics is a very close second, but it always comes second. She wants you to focus first on earning the degree, then the conference ring.

Meg Stevens does everything that needs doing at the athletic campus, from affixing the athletics logo onto light posts to directing traffic at big events. She supervises all the coaches, she raises funds for all the athletic programs … all of the sports comprise her domain. And it all follows a program she inaugurated (and spreads to other colleges nationwide), called the 3-2-1 concept.

“Here’s the 3-2-1 vision for the Athletic Department,” she explains. “As an Averett student-athlete, you need to maintain a 3.0 or better GPA in the classroom, get your team to finish in the top 2 in the conference, and treat all of Averett as 1 Team.”

The first two are self-explanatory; the third, that “1 Team” thing, means her athletes are not to live solely in the world of their own sport. She has them attend competitions held by the other sports; attend lectures outside their major; get highly involved in community work; go to the Averett theatre to watch plays and musical performances; get involved in student government and other campus organizations … in other words, help make Averett University 1 Team, 1 Family.

If you wonder whether her world is right for you, whether the 1 Team (Averett) is right for you, she offers — not surprisingly — very good advice: “Do not choose your college by its online presence. A virtual tour is not enough. Do not commit years of your life to some school just because a relative or a friend pushes you there.

“Whether you are an athlete or not, your job is to find the school that is the right fit for You. And in that process, you have to visit. Go to as many places as you can. There is a FEEL here at Averett, and you need to be here physically to experience it, to see if that feel is the right one for you.”


Ms. Meg Stevens has almost 20 years of experience as a collegiate coach and athletic director, including an 11-year stint as head women’s lacrosse coach at Buffalo State (the State University of New York – Buffalo), where she was named the U.S. Lacrosse Regional Coach of the Year in 2004 and where she also served as assistant athletic director. She earned the Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY – Cortland with a major in Recreation and Leisure Management and the Master of Science degree from SUNY College – Buffalo with a major in Student Personnel Administration. She joined Averett University as director of athletics in 2013.

John Vigouroux
Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer

You’ll definitely never meet anyone else like John Vigouroux. His successes in businesses all around the world are astounding, his insights and energy are nonstop … and his story? That’s the best part — it begins and ends at Averett University.

“My mom was on food stamps when I got recruited to play soccer at Averett,” he says. “The Averett coach made the trip to Coram, Long Island, to watch a teammate of mine play.

“It was so cold we were playing indoors, and he saw the other kid and me at the same time. This was on a rare day when I wasn’t hurt, and it went well. The coach and I talked, I filled out the financial form with all zeroes, and he offered me a bus ticket to visit the college.”

That visit was all it took. “I got to the campus, and I did not want to leave,” he says. “Back then almost all the students were female; that was a definite plus. And the food — three square meals a day. Every day. That was a first for me. Throw in soccer and I was set for life. Heaven on Earth.”

He thrived at Averett: He was class president his freshman, junior and senior years, and he did indeed play soccer, scoring 64 goals while playing on the 1978-1982 nationally ranked (Top 5, Division III) soccer team.

Although he has worked for Fortune 500 companies, he’s discovered his real calling is the world of entrepreneurism. That’s why his position at Averett, he says, “Should be and is the best job of my life. I’ve done nothing this exciting before. I’m working with young people and interesting adults and bringing my whole life into it. I get to do meaningful things with kids, I get to talk [he says with a laugh] about things I’ve done wrong … this job is fantastic.”

He’s on a mission to help Averett students understand the reach and power of entrepreneurship — establishing a business of your own.

“Education,” he maintains, “is cradle to grave in entrepreneurship. Two of every three jobs worldwide either already are or soon will be entrepreneurial.”

And at Averett, “You don’t need to have great idea to be an entrepreneur, just curiosity and a shared passion.”

He explains that entrepreneurism at Averett is designed to help you figure out — in a safe environment — what your passion is.

“Just come see me,” he tells students, “and I’ll do my best to get you involved with a company that will give you real-life experiences both at Averett and beyond.”

Does that mean internships? Yes and no. “Many schools offer internships,” he says, adding “We offer pursuit of passion.”


Mr. John Vigouroux earned the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Behavior and Development, French and Spanish from Averett University in 1982. As an eight-time president and CEO, John Vigouroux has successfully piloted three Nasdaq companies, three venture-backed global software organizations and two big data/artificial intelligence software incubators. As CEO, he has overseen sales and support offices in two dozen countries; he established and ran technology development centers in the U.S., the United Kingdom, India, France, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, New Zealand and Taiwan. He joined Averett as Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer in 2020.

Melissa Wohlstein
Vice President of Philanthropy

You would think that someone who is in charge of raising money for a university — of identifying students’ dreams and then finding the resources to make them come true — you would expect someone dedicated to such a vocation to be both kind and approachable, yes?

Averett University Vice President of Philanthropy Melissa Wohlstein is definitely that, and you sense it the minute you meet her.

“I feel lucky to be with Averett,” she explains, “because it’s a place with real heart.” That’s important to her — that she works within a community that has a very human connection.

“We comprise a real family at Averett,” she says, “so in those times when we have to work beyond the immediate mission [think pandemic, for instance], we do it for our family, for our Averett.”

On a daily basis, she works “to join the rest of the family in striving to make just a little difference, to go in a direction that will help that one student, to connect the right people to make things better for all our students.”

She has served in higher education for decades, but she says that she has never before experienced the camaraderie and dedication to students’ welfare and success that she sees at Averett: “This atmosphere is amazing, in that we have enormous support — from the University’s president, its Board members, all of our dedicated faculty and staff members … even the city of Danville and the whole Dan River region.

“All of those elements work together for Averett to create new programs, new technologies, new buildings and innovative student experiences. It is constantly supportive, encouraging, empowering.”

And it means that Averett’s students sense the genuine support: “What sets us apart is that you’re going to go to a university where you can spread your wings … but if one breaks, people will flock around you and lift you to achieve whatever your dreams might be.”

Not only that, but she also says that support is there for online students as well as for on-campus students.

“Our commitment and concern are real,” she says, “and the students see it. They know it’s authentic. It’s not just smoke and mirrors; it’s the real deal.”


Ms. Melissa Wohlstein earned a Master of Public Administration degree from University of Central Florida and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Alabama with a major in Theater and a minor in English. Overseeing the areas of alumni affairs; marketing and communications; and all aspects of fundraising (advancement services, capital campaigns, etc.), she joined Averett in her current position in February 2021.