Record enrollment, new courses greet area college students | Danville

A bevy of new programs, school sports and record-breaking enrollment numbers will greet students at Averett University and Danville Community College when they return to classes next week.

“We have a lot going on that I think is going to serve us very well,” DCC President Bruce Scism said.

DCC students will return to classes on Monday, and Averett students will begin on Wednesday, with freshmen moving in on Friday and returning students moving in Sunday.

At Averett on Friday morning, freshmen entered the student center with parents and guardians and began moving into the dorms.

Among them, freshmen Hannah Cealey and Ariana Beasley began the arduous task of settling into their Fugate Hall dorm room and unpacking.

Cealey, who is from Poquoson, said she met Beasley at cheerleading practice earlier this week and the two decided to room together. She said she was most excited to meet new people at Averett and get involved in the community, and Beasley added that she loved the school’s small size.

“I like how it’s small, because I come from a small town,” Beasley said.

Both girls want to pursue careers in teaching.

And with a laugh, the two said they thought they would get along all year.

Averett’s incoming class is the biggest in the school’s history at 385 students, according to Joel Nester, director of admissions.

Averett’s total student enrollment set another record this year with 920 students.

The incoming student enrollment numbers beat out the years 2010 and 2012, which both topped out at 337 students. This year’s class is made up of 297 freshman, 81 transfers and seven re-admissions.

Scism, who has been with DCC since 2013, said several new programs and classes would be available this semester and later this school year, including: cosmetology, truck driving, craft beer technician, instrument making and an Associate of Fine Arts degree program, among others.

Renovations to both the Charles R. Hawkins Engineering and Industrial Technology Building and the welding building should be finished by the spring semester, with students either moving back in at the beginning of or during the semester, Scism said.

“It’s coming along nicely,” he added.

Though Scism said DCC’s enrollment had declined slightly since the fall of 2016, he didn’t anticipate any more layoffs due to funding this year. The college cut eight positions due to funding constrictions by the state in May, in addition to an administrative position later this summer.

“We don’t think we’ll have to eliminate any positions,” Scism said.

Averett Dean of Students Lesley Villarose said she was also excited for the large incoming student class.

“Because of that, we’ll be at full capacity in our residence halls, and we have renovated our second Main Hall, which has been offline for years,” he said. “It’s been completely renovated to provide additional bed spaces.”

Averett also added a lounge space in one of the apartment houses for sophomores, juniors and seniors, Villarose added.

She also attributed the large incoming class to Averett’s three new sports teams: men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s wrestling.