In 2009, the city of Danville and Averett University formed one of the first public private partnerships in the tobacco warehouse district now known as the booming River District. Averett, along with Danville Regional Foundation, took over the former Dimon, Inc. headquarters building that had sat vacant for eight years. The building was transformed into Averett’s state-of-the-art nursing school. It also houses Averett’s Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program. Averett’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Buddy Rawley says, “I was on City Council at the time and our strategy to turn downtown Danville around was through public private partnerships.” Averett’s newest partnership with the city focuses on student transportation and connecting students more with the city, its retailers, its restaurants and community amenities. This year Averett students will use city buses to commute to the North Campus and Riverview Campus with a stop downtown at the bus terminal. “These partnerships have been and will continue to be beneficial to both the city and the university. Averett is committed to partnering with others to help the region move forward,” Rawley says.

Averett’s willingness to be an integral part in moving the region forward is a tremendous asset to Danville’s economic development. “From Dr. Franks’ energy, enthusiasm, and visionary leadership, to the entire faculty and staff, Averett is an important partner that demonstrates the ability to provide high-quality graduates in an array of different fields of study. The effort Averett puts into creating quality workforce development programs shows its desire to bring value to existing and future industries in the region. The Office of Economic Development has a valuable relationship with the Averett Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) which has helped connect a great deal of students with internships and service-learning projects in the region,” Director of Economic Development for Danville, Telly Tucker says.

Under the leadership of Dr. Tiffany Franks, Averett understands that a successful future is closely connected to the city and community. “Our growth and innovation benefits the city and the region, and the exciting developments in the city and region benefits Averett as the ‘Hometown University,’” says Timothy Fulop, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success. Averett is expanding its health studies programs and is examining how the Riverview Campus building could be further renovated to house new programs. “We are very excited about all the developments in the River District and many of our Averett employees have found the old converted warehouses to be great places to live,” Fulop says.

Averett works closely with the Danville Regional Foundation which supports the university’s CCECC. “The CCECC has proven to be a great resource to our students as well as the community. Under the leadership of the CCECC, volunteerism and service-learning are now embedded into the Averett 101 class, which every first-year student takes. We find the more students are engaged in the CCECC, the more successful they are as students. Averett is thrilled to be contributing to the dynamic changes occurring in Danville and the region as we all work to promote the common good and the health of our community,” Fulop adds.

Earlier in 2017, SOVAH Health–Danville (formerly Danville Regional Medical Center) partnered with Averett to create the university’s Health and Wellness Center. Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Health and Wellness and Title IX Coordinator, Jill Adams says, “The Center allows for students to receive access to health care and wellness programming right on campus. The idea for this developed from our health care partners and was reiterated by our students and their parents who desired this type of amenity where they study and live.”

“Our YMCA loves Averett and the positive impact the university has on the students and our community,” Dustin Whittle, Associate Director of the Danville Family YMCA says. “Our partnerships with Averett are mutually beneficial. We are lucky to work with such a strong university to create positive and lasting impact on the lives of our youth, students, and our community.”

Averett partners in many ways with the Y. “We provide affordable student membership rates for fall and spring semesters. The Y and Averett have agreed on a corporate membership that provides discounted memberships to Averett faculty and staff. The Y offers pool time (with lifeguards) and use of the InBody machine for Averett Athletics and its new strength and conditioning department,” Whittle says.

Work-study students from Averett help with tutoring and other activities in the Y’s after school care program. Averett provides use of its facilities for sports programs the Y offers. “The use of these facilities has enabled us to grow the numbers in our programs. We are working with Averett to set up a student internship in our wellness department,” Whittle adds.

Averett partnered with Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) and New College Institute (NCI) to create a seamless path for PHCC applied science graduates to enroll in Averett’s applied science baccalaureate program. The partnerships evolved from a shared commitment to the region and in response to the needs of the region’s workforce. Averett offers its Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Leadership Studies program through online instruction to students who have graduated from PHCC’s Associate of Applied Sciences program. In addition, Averett and NCI work together to offer students face-to-face support and other learning opportunities at NCI in Martinsville. “We are grateful to our wonderful colleagues at PHCC and NCI who share in our vision of developing students who will continue to live and work here and give back to this region we all love,” says Franks.

About The Author

Paul Seiple
Editorial Director