Division of Student Life

Mission Statement

The division of student life at Averett University is committed to providing an inclusive environment enabling each student to develop and enhance personal health and wellbeing, leadership skills, social responsibility, critical thinking and a spirit of service.

Student Life Goals and Objectives

Personal Health and Wellbeing

Students will be exposed to programs and initiatives designed to promote health and wellbeing including: health clinics, wellness counseling, health education, recreational activities, and spiritual exploration where appropriate.

Objective One
Students will have opportunities to participate in health and wellness fairs. Health and wellness educational materials and information will be displayed and distributed in key locations on campus. Students will participate in a group learning experience centered around the topic of emotional well-being and resilience.

Leadership Skills

Students will become actively engaged through the development of leadership skills and qualities.

Objective One
Promote leadership skill development through exposure and access to leadership programming, opportunity and roles.

Objective Two
Establish opportunities for students to engage and apply leadership learning/skills.

Objective Three
Establish departmental standards for leadership engagement, support and influence.

Social Responsibility

Students will gain a healthy respect for self and others by exercising personal integrity and engaging in a community of shared responsibility and social media.

Objective One
Promote the engagement in active bystander intervention.

Critical Thinking

Students will demonstrate the ability to reason and make sound judgements through an exploration of our world’s ideas, narratives and strategies.

Objective One
Teach appropriate strategies for students to responsibly and critically interpret multiple narratives of information.

Spirit of Service

Students will gain an awareness of the impact and importance of service to others.

Objective One
Students will make connections between local, national and global communities by identifying the impact of current social issues on humanity.

Student Life Staff

Venita M. Mitchell, PhD
Vice President of Student Engagement
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Dr. Venita Mitchell joined Averett in 2021 as our new Vice President for Student Engagement and Senior Student Experience Officer. She comes to us after a career spanning 30 years in both the public and private college/university settings, working in all aspects of higher education as a student affairs professional. Her experience includes serving over 20 years at William Woods University, including 18 years as the vice president and dean of student life, as well as director of leadership development, and interim athletic director; adjunct instructor at the University of Missouri; assistant dean for student development at Millsaps College; assistant director of recreation services at the University of Kansas; and director of intramurals at Rhodes College. Dr. Mitchell earned a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri, a master’s degree in recreation, parks and tourism from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jeremicus “JL” Porter, PhD
Dean of Students
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Dr. Porter comes to the University as a national award-winning higher education leader with a distinguished 14-plus year career in both the public university and community college sectors; where he developed and implemented comprehensive programs to amplify student experiences and directed strategic operational management of cross-functional teams in both student affairs and enrollment services. Dr. Porter earned a doctorate in leadership and management from Capella University, a Master of Education from American Intercontinental University, a Bachelor of Science in journalism and mass communication with a concentration in public relations from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and is a product of Harvard University’s Leadership and Management Institute.

Fredrick Betts
Coordinator for Retention and Persistence
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Fredrick comes to us from DCC where he has served as a Career Coach/Success Coach since 2013. He enjoys working with the students, faculty and staff to provide students with a rewarding college experience. He is excited to join the Student Success Center here at Averett to help be a part of the continued success of the students.

Rodney Countryman
Director of Residence Life
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Rodney serves the university as the Assistant Director of Residence Life. He began his journey at Averett in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in 2020, then transitioned to the Student Life team in 2021. Averett has become his home, and he enjoys being a part of the growth and development of students.

Teresa Barker, MSN, BSN, RN
Director of Health Services
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Joy E. Durham-Carthen, J.D.
Director of Student Success
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Joy joined Averett in 2022 as our new Director of Student Success.  Her experience includes several years of service in the higher education system in universities such as William Paterson University at which she has worked for almost 5 years as the Director of Accessibility Resource Center. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the Rutgers School of Law-Newark, a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The College of New Jersey.

A fun fact about Joy is that she loves cooking and baking. One of her great accomplishment was the creation of Joyful Cookies.

Beth Hill, LMHP – R
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Hello, I’m Beth! I have adventured through many experiences in my counseling journey and have now landed at Averett University. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in 2005 from Radford University and my Master of Arts in professional counseling with Liberty University in 2016. I am currently in my counseling residency and look forward to completing the licensure process. I have experience working with diverse populations including juvenile and adult corrections, community services, developmental/intellectual disabilities, and crisis intervention. With my home life, I am married with three children. Our oldest is my bonus daughter (15) and then we have a son (4) and the baby girl (almost 3); she is the most spoiled! We also have a furbaby (my first born), a yorkie that believes she is a doberman. We attend church in our community and enjoy going to watch our oldest play softball. I believe the others will be ready to dive into sports when they are a little older.

One day, after living through toddlerhood, I hope to get back to some of my favorite things; crafting, reading, and watching true crime shows. For now it is mainly ordering what I could make and watching Umi Zoomi and Peppa Pig! Thank you all for welcoming to your work family and community! I am excited to be “back in college!”

Tammy Jackson
Director of International Student Services and Cultural Programs
SEVIS Principal Designated School Official (PDSO)
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Tammy is from South Boston, VA. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 2004 in Organizational Management and Development from Bluefield College and her MBA from Averett University in 2008. She is the Director of International Student Services and Cultural Awareness and the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) for international student registrations. She works primarily with the University’s ever increasing international student population. She advises and serves international students, faculty, and staff with the rules and regulations regarding OPT, CPT, international student employment and registration, etc. She will also continue to work as the Transportation Administrator for trips to and from RDU and GSO and classes at North, Danville Airport, and Riverview Campuses as well as with the Cougar Cares Committee. Tammy has worked in college education for over nineteen years in areas such as admissions, advising, registration, business, and financial aid. She has also served as an adjunct instructor on the community college level. She enjoys walking, binge watching television, classic literature and movies, and planting flowers. She is a student advocate who is passionate about seeing all students set and achieve their goals.

Holly Kilby
Assistant Director, Academic Support
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Nate Lake
Assistant Director of Student Involvement
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Nate is an Averett alumni class of 2018 member. During his time at Averett, he played football and volunteered with Student Life to help with several events on and off campus. Formerly, he worked with Averett Online as an admissions counselor for two years prior to graduating.

Casey Scarce
Director of Student Involvement

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Casey Scarce is a native of Danville, VA, and joined Averett’s Student Life team in 2021. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communications and Social Influence at Lynchburg College in 2016 where she also worked in admissions while earning her graduate degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management in 2018. She has a background in fundraising & development, team development, and event planning.

Casey serves as the Assistant Director of Student Involvement for student organizations & clubs’ activation, working with First-Year Students & their Connection Leaders, and planning events like ROAR, Homecoming, & Spring Fling throughout the year. She and her team are always excited to welcome new Cougars to the Averett family and ensure they are connected to their community until their next step after Averett!

Sarah SmithSarah Smith
Administrative Assistant for Health Services

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Sarah joined the  Averett family in March 2022 as the Administrative Assistant for Health Services on campus. She works as the assistant to the Director of Health Services and assists in growing the Health Services Program. Before calling Danville her home she was born and raised in Roanoke, VA. Her experience consists of Level One Trauma, Mental Health, Orthopedics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Sarah now gets her adrenaline rush from her daughter, Scarlett. Her sassy four-year-old self keeps her on her toes. Sarah is located in the student success building alongside counseling services and is excited to be a resource for the students and staff.

Mckelvey Stone
Coordinator of Housing Operations

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Tina Younger
Administrative Assistant for Student Life

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Tina Younger is from South Boston, VA. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 2019 in Government from Liberty University.  She joined Averett University in 2021 and serves as the Administrative Assistant for Student Life. Tina has over 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors spanning a broad range of areas from local government to nonprofit organizations. She brings a wealth of life skills to Averett University. She is extremely excited to be a part of Averett University and working with students to ensure their college experience is successful. Her passion is bringing awareness to women issues through her short stories. She is a member of the Danville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serving on the following committees, Chaplain, Member Services, Social Action as well as Policies and Procedures.