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Averett University opens Riverview campus

August 21, 2012

Averett University opens Riverview campus

By: Tiffany Holland

Picture By: Steven Mantilla

Picture: Emily Carlton and her son, Will Carlton, 7, peek around a curtain at a simulator patient mannequin in the Maternal-Child Simulation Area during a tour at Averett University's new Riverview Campus for its nursing program.

In 1872, a brick tobacco factory was built on Bridge Street next to the Dan River.

At the time, it had the latest advances in technology and became a thriving business in Southside Virginia until 1994 when it was vacated.

But on Tuesday, the historic building — formerly the Dimon headquarters — was alive and thriving again when Averett University’s highly anticipated Riverview campus opened its doors.

A building once filled with historic qualities of yesteryear is now home to the latest forms of technology and most modern teaching tools.

 About 100 people came to see the renovations, new laboratories and classrooms. It took more than a year to redo 60,000 square feet of space, bringing new life to the historic building. 

“Today represents much more than a building,” said Averett President Tiffany Franks.

Averett’s move downtown is significant for various reasons.

The Riverview campus is now home to the university’s newly instituted school of nursing as part of the health science initiative. Southside could face a shortage of medical professionals — including nurses — and having a local university providing the degree is one of the main reasons Averett’s efforts have garnered so much support, including from Danville Regional Medical Center.

The move also coincides with the city’s efforts in the River District project rejuvenating life to downtown Danville.

 Danville Regional Medical Center CEO Eric Deaton said anyone would be “amazed” when seeing the type of classrooms and technology on campus.

Averett hopes the impressive facility will lure new students; a few have already been admitted. One of the students the Riverview campus brought in was Joey Diaz, an Averett sophomore from Richmond. She had a high grade point average when looking at colleges and knew she wanted to do something in the health sciences field.

Diaz said after she visited Averett’s campus and heard about the health science initiative, it became the top choice.

“No one else was as friendly as Danville,” said Diaz, who was impressed by the welcoming nature of people at Averett and in Danville.

Right now, the nursing program does not have ability to accept entry-level candidates to the program, but they should get approval for this in the coming months.

 Averett has partnered with community organizations and hundreds of people in Danville helped to get the Riverview campus completed. The Danville Regional Foundation is also being housed next door in the same building along the cobblestones of Bridge Street.