Monday, January 07, 2008

Averett University (Danville, Virginia)

(click photograph for larger image)

Averett University was a private Christian college in Danville, Virginia, USA, in south-central Virginia near the North Carolina border, but is no longer affiliated with its Baptist roots. In 2006, US News and World Report ranked Averett as Universities–Master's (South), third tier. The school was chartered in 1859 as Union Female College and became affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia in 1910. The school's name was changed to Averett College and received accreditation as a junior college in 1917. Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools followed in 1928.

Averett became a coeducational four-year college in 1969 and offered its first graduate programs in the 1980s. The school changed its name to Averett University in 2001. In 2005, the Baptist General Association of Virginia dissolved their ties with Averett after two years of growing disagreement over homosexuality. Averett offers associate's and bachelor's degrees in a variety of fields, a Master of Education degree and a Master of Business Administration degree. Averett's main campus is a 19-acre campus adjacent to the Millionaire's Row neighborhood of Danville, Virginia. The 70-acre North Campus Athletic Center and Averett Flight Center at Danville Regional Airport are also located within Danville. The 100-acre Equestrian Center in Pelham, NC lies just across the Virginia-North Carolina border. Averett's adult education program, Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS), has campus centers in Danville, Richmond and Tidewater. Classes are also offered in more than 25 locations around Virginia.

The Averett Name

The Averett family of Halifax County, Virginia, gave more than a name to the Baptist affiliated school in Danville now known as Averett University. Eight members of this family of educators provided the backbone of support for progress and expansion of a small school for girls that has grown into a graduate level institution. From 1858 until 1910 the Averetts gave their educational expertise, faithful years of service, management skills and financial backing to the betterment of the institution. The school once named for the Roanoke Baptist association was renamed Averett College in 1917, and retained the Averett family name when it became a university in 2002.

The Averett Family

Principal, 1858-1863
Averett, Jane Elizabeth

Jane Elizabeth Averett and her husband, Nathan Penick were from Halifax County, Virginia. In 1858 they moved to Danville where Penick and one of Jane's brothers revived the school for Baptist girls that had been begun by William Isaac Berryman in his home on Patton Street. Their Baptist Female Seminary was chartered in December of 1859 as the Union Female College.

Teachers: 1859-1861
Averett, Joseph James
Averett, Rosa Celeste

In 1859 Joseph James Averett and his wife moved to Danville from Halifax County, Virginia, as faculty of the Baptist Female Seminary and to assist his brother-in-law, Nathan Penick in the operation of the school. He taught higher mathematics, natural science, and languages; she taught music.

Teacher/Principal, 1872-1887
Averett, Samuel Wootton

In 1872 Samuel Wootton Averett and his family moved to Danville from Culpeper, Virginia. Serving as co-principal and teacher, he remained at the Roanoke Female College for fifteen years teaching modern language, mathematics, and natural science. In 1887 he left to become president of Judson College in Alabama.

Trustee/Teacher/Principal/President, 1859/1873-1892
Averett, John Taylor

In 1859 John Taylor Averett served on the original Board of Trustees of the Union Female College. In 1873 he and his brother Samuel were appointed co-principals of Roanoke Female College. John T. Averett taught ancient languages, English, history, and moral philosophy. When his brother left in 1887, John T. Averett became the first President of the College. He retired in 1892.

Teachers/Alumnae, 1873-1890
Averett, Martha E. "Pattie"
Averett, Janie Wootton

Two daughters of John T. Averett served as teachers at Roanoke Female College. "Miss Pattie" taught music and English from 1873 to 1890. "Miss Janie" taught domestic science from 1878 to 1885. Both ladies received their education from Roanoke Female College, Pattie graduating in 1871 and Janie in 1890. Pattie Averett was a charter member of the Alumnae Association that was founded in 1908.

Trustee, 1898-1910
Averett, William Penick

William Penick Averett, son of John T. Averett, was a member of the Board of Trustees of Roanoke Female College from 1898 to 1910.

The Averett Family Tree

Nathan Penick was born in Halifax County, Virginia, the son of a Baptist minister. During the autumn of 1858 Penick and his wife, Jane Elizabeth Averett, moved to Danville to direct the newly formed Baptist Female Seminary which officially opened its doors in February 1859 and continued to be located in the Berryman home. In September 1859 Penick was joined by his brother-in-law, educator Joseph James Averett. Through Penick's efforts, a college level curriculum was added to the school and on December 22, 1859, the school was chartered as the Union Female College.

In 1860 the first brick school building was constructed on the lot next to the Berryman home at the corner of Ridge and Patton Streets. Penick himself taught mathematics, natural science and English. His wife taught French and music from 1859 to 1861. Both Nathan Penick and Joseph Averett resigned from the college at the outbreak of the Civil War. In a biography of Penick written while he was still alive, it was said that Penick fired the last shot at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered. At the close of the war Penick chose not to return to Danville, but moved to Culpeper, Virginia, to manage the Culpeper Female Institute. After Jane Averett died, Penick married his brother's widow, and at her death married a third time. Nathan Penick died at age 67 in 1898 in Burkeville, Virginia.

Nathan Penick (1831-1898) was a son of William Penick and Elizabeth Armistead Sydnor. He apparently was named for his grandfather, Nathan Penick (1769-1853) (who married Tabitha Rudd).

While Averett College (now University) has had a special relationship with many who live in north Caswell County, another connection comes through the Penick (Pennick/Pennix/Pinnix) family of Caswell County.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for putting this up. I'm descended from Elliott Averett and Samuel Wootten Averett is my great-great-grandfather.