hoffman2Dr. David Emerson Hoffman,
Professor of English / Journalism / Communications

Email: david.hoffman@averett.edu
Phone: 434-791-5774
Office: Frith Hall 314

Have you ever wished you had a teacher who really liked to teach? Here is an exact quote from Dr. David Hoffman: “As long as I’m in a classroom, I’m happy.” And he means it.

He joined the faculty at Averett about two days after dirt was invented (a long, long time ago), and he never wants to leave.

“Last fall I went on a sabbatical [a paid leave for study/travel] — kind of a rehearsal for my eventual retirement — and it did not go well. Boy, did I miss the Averett students.”

He used his time wisely — he attended and presented a paper at a conference in New Orleans; he spent some time at the beach and took a lot of photos, and he traveled to Europe for a couple of weeks. But thinking back on it, he admits that he just flat out missed a classroom and its students.

In fact, a bad teacher unknowingly shaped his life: “When I was in the 10th grade, I was very much involved in science. I even had my own little laboratory at home for experiments. But my science teacher that year really turned me off, and I started drifting toward the humanities. My English/Speech teacher was just outstanding. By the time I went to college, I knew I wanted to teach.”

And teach he has. First in high school, then in college. “I’m living the dream, actually,” he says. “I always say that I have four passions: teaching, writing, photography and walking with Sadie [his English setter] along the river. My wife heard that list; now I say I have five passions.”

A prolific and talented writer, Hoffman has articles published in the local paper often, usually featuring his photography and the lovely Sadie on their river walks (here’s an example: http://bit.ly/18UUMh2). Even those morning escapes provide grist for his classes.

“When I’m not in the classroom,” he admits, “everything I do is preparing for future classes. Going in unprepared is the worst crime a teacher can commit.”

He asserts that the faculty at Averett know their business. “A student who wants an outstanding education can get that here. Our faculty members are very well educated, they know their areas and they are scholars.”

Even more important, he adds, is this: “Our students know that we are here to help … not only when they’re here, but even after they graduate. Some write to me even after they’ve been gone 10 years, and that’s great. We are here for our students.”


Doctor of Education, English Education/Curriculum and Teaching, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Master of Arts, Secondary Education/Journalism/Speech, Marshall University

Bachelor of Arts, Language Arts, Marshall University


Huckstep-2792Dr. Susan Huckstep,
Associate Professor,
Communication Studies/Journalism

Email: susan.huckstep@averett.edu
Phone: 434-791-5751
Office: Frith 419

How has Dr. Susan Huckstep managed to avoid getting the nickname Peppermint Patty? The answer is, we do not know. You’d think that after all these years …

Here’s the story. You know those delicious York Peppermint Patties? She hands them out. Like they were candy (which they are). Do something wonderful, she gives you a Patty. Take a test or an exam, have a Patty. Need to be consoled about something? Patty. She even takes a boatload to graduation, stands in line and hands them out to her graduating students.

Truth is, she is a talented, accomplished and respected professor … and much more. She writes, she’s a photographer, and she is a huge supporter of Averett’s athletic teams, cheering them on with great enthusiasm. She is there for her students, wherever “there” happens to be.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Huckstep visited colleges in person during her own final year in high school, and she stopped at Averett on her way to visit a school in North Carolina.

“I was immediately impressed by how friendly everyone was. It really was like one big family. Other schools had athletes separate from ‘regular’ students; not at Averett. Also, I liked that you could walk from the campus to just about anywhere you needed to go — it’s a real comfortable, friendly, convenient neighborhood setting.”

She happily enrolled at Averett and quickly discovered mentors who would guide her for many years. “The people who helped me when I was a student here continued to mentor and help me as I went through graduate work,” she says. As you would expect, she now is filling that role of ongoing mentor herself.

One aspect of education at Averett especially appeals to her — service- learning, where students provide a service to the off-campus community, serve an internship or perform some kind of research.

“Students in a service-learning environment just light up. We do a whole lot of internships, and they’re wonderful experiences.”

Huckstep also works to shape her classes to the individual students. “We get to know our students really well,” she says. “If I know that one wants to be a coach, for instance, or an entrepreneur or whatever, I shape the communications theory to fit that. It becomes personalized.”

One recent case shows both service learning and Huckstep’s encouraging personalization. “I recently talked a student into signing up for Advanced Public Relations, a service-learning class providing PR in the community. He resisted, saying it looks like too much work, others have great skills but I do not, I can’t contribute, etc.

“Yes, I agreed, it will require stretching yourself, but I think you can do it. He stayed and ended up being one of the stars of the class. In fact, he did so well that the community organization hired him at the end of the semester.”

You can bet he also got a Peppermint Patty.


Doctor of Philosophy, Communication Studies, Regent University

Master of Arts, Communication Studies, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Bachelor of Arts, English/Journalism/Communication, Averett University

Additional Master’s level study in Journalism and English