Averett recruits seasoned industry veteran to lead program as inaugural director
DANVILLE, Va. (Nov. 9, 2022) – Averett University today announced a major gift from Caesars Virginia, a joint venture between Caesars Entertainment (“Caesars”) and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (“EBCI”), signaling a significant investment in the hospitality and tourism future of the region.
Caesars Virginia is providing Averett with $504,000 to develop a hospitality and tourism academic program – one of only a handful of four-year programs of its kind in Virginia.
“At Averett University, we strive to be a strong partner to our city, region and beyond, and we know there is a significant and growing need for a prepared workforce with advanced education in this industry,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “We are proud that major players like Caesars and EBCI recognize the significant role we have as Danville’s Hometown University and are most grateful for the tremendous generosity and spirit of partnership they have exhibited. We know this is not just an accomplishment for Averett but for the future of our region.”
“At Caesars Entertainment, we are committed to investing in the communities where we work and live through education and philanthropic giving,” said Barron Fuller, Regional President for Caesars Entertainment. “By partnering with Averett, we aim to provide resources for the next generation of hospitality professionals in the area. We look forward to building this program alongside the University for years to come.”
“The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are proud of the partnerships built in Danville and the surrounding communities in Virginia. This donation supporting the creation of Averett University’s hospitality program stems from the EBCI value system that prioritizes education and lifelong learning,” said Richard Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “We look forward to continuing to build opportunities for the people of Danville with this program and through our partnership with Caesars Entertainment.”
Additionally, Averett also announced the selection of hospitality industry veteran Thomas Perugini as the program’s inaugural director. Perugini joins Averett with 25 years of hospitality industry experience as a leader in food and beverage as well as hotel and resort operations throughout Florida, complemented by nearly a decade of teaching hospitality management. He started with the University last month.
“I am very excited about joining the Averett team to help develop and grow this dynamic new program. This community is so welcoming and warm, and the desire for enhanced service excellence in this industry is inspiring and shows great potential,” said Perugini. “Like most other industries, hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality and tourism organizations are hungry for quality employees who possess both the hands-on training as well as the soft skills needed in customer service and in management. This program will help feed that regional workforce pipeline through interns still in the program and ultimately with Averett graduates.”
Averett’s new concentration and minor in Hospitality Management and Tourism will be housed under the University’s existing undergraduate Business Management program and will launch for on-campus and Averett Online students beginning in the fall 2023 semester. The program will include courses like Introduction to the Hospitality and Tourism Industry; Lodging Operations; and Food and Beverage Management, with electives such as Casino, Resort and Club Management; and Facility Design. Students will end the program with a capstone internship opportunity with local hospitality partners.
The University hosted a celebratory announcement honoring Caesars and introducing Perugini at 4 p.m. today at Cottontail Weddings & Events in Danville’s restored River District. Guests included leadership from Caesars Virginia, city leaders and regional hospitality and tourism industry professionals, as well as University Trustees, employees, students, alumni and friends.
Caesars and Averett locked arms very early in the discussions around bringing the Caesars Virginia resort to Danville. Caesars Virginia – a $650 million resort being developed in Danville’s historic Schoolfield neighborhood at the former site of Dan River Mill’s finishing plant – selected Averett as its educational partner to develop the academic program and create internship and employment pipelines for Averett students. Franks served as a co-chair of the 2020 “Caesars for Danville” campaign referendum committee, and Averett hosted the signing event in which the Danville Industrial Development Authority, the City of Danville and Caesars signed an agreement outlining the future plans of the casino project.
About Averett University
Since 1859, Averett University has grown and developed into a dynamic institution that serves students of all ages, offering more than 40 undergraduate majors with a number of concentrations and minors, along with 12 graduate programs with several concentrations. Dedicated to preparing students to serve and lead as catalysts for positive change, the University’s historic main campus is embedded in the heart of Southern Virginia with regional learning centers throughout Virginia and online. Averett enrolls a diverse student body, and boasts an alumni network that spans the globe.
At Averett University, we are altogether different. We know that relationships fuel futures, which explains our unmistakable family atmosphere. On campus or online, Averett students feel a sense of true belonging. Through relentless support and unwavering dedication, we equip our students with the skills for a lifetime of success. Knowing that personal growth and community well-being go hand-in-hand, we serve others with confidence and distinction, and with a more than 160-year legacy, our influence is far-reaching in the world around us. This is All Averett. Visit averett.edu for more info.
About Caesars Entertainment, Inc.
Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) is the largest casino-entertainment company in the U.S. and one of the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment providers. Since its beginning in Reno, NV, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment, Inc. has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. Caesars Entertainment, Inc.’s resorts operate primarily under the Caesars®, Harrah’s®, Horseshoe®, and Eldorado® brand names. Caesars Entertainment, Inc. offers diversified gaming, entertainment and hospitality amenities, one-of-a-kind destinations, and a full suite of mobile and online gaming and sports betting experiences. All tied to its industry-leading Caesars Rewards loyalty program, the company focuses on building value with its guests through a unique combination of impeccable service, operational excellence and technology leadership. Caesars is committed to its employees, suppliers, communities and the environment through its PEOPLE PLANET PLAY framework. Know When To Stop Before You Start.® Gambling Problem? Call or text 1-800-GAMBLER. For more information, please visit www.caesars.com/corporate.
About ECBI Holdings, LLC
EBCI Holdings, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company is solely owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and operated independently by a senior leadership team reporting to a five-member board of directors. EBCI Holdings, LLC was formed to diversify the Tribe’s economy through a focus on developing, acquiring, and managing commercial casinos and hospitality-based businesses throughout the U.S. EBCI Holdings, LLC currently operates Caesars Southern Indiana and EBCI Tech Fund 1, a gaming technology venture capital fund.