Averett Celebrates 161st annual Founder’s Day


Alumni speakers pose with Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks before the Founder’s Day ceremony. L to R: Kenneth Bain, Dr. Tiffany Franks, Elsabé Dixon, and Hermon Mason. Photo courtesy of Travis Dix, Office of Institutional Advancement.

Delaney Sullivan, Staff Writer

Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other guests gathered for Averett University’s annual Founder’s Day celebration Thursday, Jan. 16. Students kicked off the spring semester by hearing three accomplished alumni speak in the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center.  

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success Rev. Dr. Timothy Fulup began the celebration by welcoming everyone and saying a prayer over the audience. 

Dr. Tiffany Franks, president of Averett, followed by reminiscing about the past and how much Averett has changed over the decades. Franks joked that when the college opened in 1859, tuition to study English was only $12.50. 

“Averett is old and we have come a very long way…we benefit from growth and grit,” Franks said. She continued that it is Averett’s age that allows it to be the institution that it is now. 

Averett Singers then preformed “Hymn of Hope” before Buddy Rawley, vice president of philanthropy, introduced the alumni speakers. 

Kenneth Bain, ‘93, is the president of Mobile Cinema Park Technology Inc. in Guilford Co., NC. Bain is also the CEO of Beautiful Investments, a construction company, as well as the CEO of JKM Elevators, which is located in his home country of the Bahamas. He lives in High Point, NC, with his two children and his wife, who he met at Averett University in 1993. 

Bain spoke about his time enrolled in Averett and left students with some advice: “Don’t be afraid to take a step of faith,” he concluded, “And this is something I learned here at Averett: lift as you climb.” 

Next, Elsabé Dixon, ‘92, spoke. A South African native, Dixon is currently living in Chatham and is the executive director of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. Dixon reminisced about her classes at Averett and talked about how each professor impacted her life while she was in their classes. 

“Follow your passions and follow your interests because they’ll lead you to where you want to go,” Dixon said. “But share along your way.” 

Hermon Mason, ‘08, spoke last. Mason is serving as the agency manager for Country Financial in Atlanta, GA. Retired from the United States Marine Corps, Mason lives with his family in Douglasville, GA. 

Mason began by talking about how he walked across a stage twice: once when his mom graduated and carried him across in a carrier when he was a baby, and the next time when he graduated 18 years later. 

Mason said growing up, he “refused to be anybody’s statistic.” He continued, “I was determined to reach my full potential.” Mason credits Averett with pushing him to where he is today.  

He left students with this: “Cherish the relationships you have today. Cherish the experiences you have today. They could give you an experience years from now that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.” 

Breanna Murphy, senior class secretary and member of the softball team, also spoke. She reminded students to, “Be proud of your involvement, be proud of Averett, but most importantly, be proud of yourself.” 

Many in the audience were impressed with what these accomplished individuals had to say.

“Our alumni speakers this year are all impressive leaders in their communities that volunteer a lot of time toward improving themselves and their community, ” Dan Hayes, director of alumni relations, said.  “They are generous people in their service to their community.” 

In order to select speakers for Founder’s Day, the Institutional Advancement office visits alumni throughout the year searching for people who have an interesting story that might inspire the students.

 “Founder’s Day allows people to build a good connection with alumni who have made significant contributions in their careers, and gives students a good opportunity to meet and hear from them… it is a good event and we all get a chance to celebrate our alums and hear interesting things about what they have done after Averett,” Fulop said.