In 2014, the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) was established to be the regional hub for linking students and faculty with community partners to create distinctive learning experiences and career opportunities as well as to strengthen the social and economic vitality of our region.

Dr. Alexis Ehrhardt, Executive Director of CCECC says, “The CCECC puts Averett’s mission into action by focusing on three areas: experiential learning, including service-learning, internships, and studies abroad; community and civic initiatives, through volunteerism, the National Bonner Leader Program, and national service; and career competitiveness where all Averett students benefit from a comprehensive career development program beginning in their first semester. By making intentional and meaningful connections among these focus areas, we are able to provide our students with access to resources and networks in the Dan River Region and beyond.”

The CCECC also serves as a resource for Danville Community College and Piedmont Community College. “We partner with these institutions for Day to Engage, Week to Engage, the MLK Day of Service, and several other regional initiatives,” Ehrhardt says. The CCECC has a partnership with the Dan River Nonprofit Network to provide a volunteer platform, serve365.org, for all residents in the region. “At Averett, we take very seriously our role in serving the region. Part of the service includes providing substantive opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to serve alongside our community partners and fellow citizens. As the volunteer hub for the region, we strive to provide the mechanisms for all residents to serve, and serve365 is another positive step in that direction,” Ehrhardt says.

“Team Averett” is a corporate partnership with over 30 businesses in the community. “We advertise for them and in turn they strengthen our student-athlete experience,” Meg Stevens, Director of Athletics says. The benefits of joining Team Averett include brand visibility to thousands of fans each year at multiple game venues. “Our partners have been really wonderful to work with, and we are always looking for new business partnerships,” Stevens says.

Each year, as the City’s Hometown University, the city of Danville goes all in to show support for the Cougars during homecoming, and Averett holds its Homecoming Hometown Party. Dan Hayes, Director of Alumni and Friend Development says, “The Homecoming Hometown Party is a time for the Averett and Danville communities to come together. It’s a chance for all to enjoy a fun evening celebrating Averett.” This year’s party will take place on October 20, from 6:30-10:30pm at Danville’s Community Market. Tickets are available for ages 21 and over. Tickets are $25 and include a meal and are available at Alumni Hall or the Averett bookstore. Averett alumni, students 21 and older, faculty, staff, and the community are welcome.

In May 2016, in an effort to meet the needs of adult students who prefer a face-to-face learning environment over an online, Averett’s Graduate and Professional Studies program began using video conferencing for instruction. “We found the Zoom cloud-based solution was affordable, reliable, and had a great ease of use,” Ron Lonzo, Executive Director of Graduate and Professional Studies says. The initial pilot, coined Cougar Connect, was launched to a group of Master’s in Business Administration students. It connected one classroom in Richmond and one in Danville. Averett has since expanded Cougar Connect to include business administration undergraduates. “The ease of technology allows faculty to focus on teaching rather than technology. Feedback had been extremely favorable from faculty as well as students,” Lonzo adds. This past summer, Averett added Cougar Connect classrooms in its regional campuses in Roanoke and Marine Corps Base Quantico. “The Zoom classrooms will also be used for real-time, face-to-face tutoring. The new Cougar Connect classrooms not only provide an innovative learning environment but also expand Averett’s ability to meet students literally where they are and in the manner they want to learn,” Lonzo adds.

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Paul Seiple
Editorial Director