Lamar University History

Texas Roots, Infinite Possibilities

By Penny Clark and Brian Sattler

Published in A Texas State of Mind: The Texas State University System Story, Still Going Strong after 100 Years, edited by Fernando Gomez,  2011

Lamar University is a remarkable story. From humble beginnings as a junior college, Lamar University became the place of opportunity for bright and ambitious young men and women who sought an education as a path to a better life. Many of these former students are today’s entrepreneurs, inventors, CEOs of global companies, lawyers of international acclaim, doctors, teachers, nurses and others who change lives and enhance communities. At the same time, Lamar University has become a cultural and economic force for Southeast Texas.

Lamar University is where it is today because of people. Caring faculty, ambitious and engaged students, and dedicated staff create an enduring place where students can achieve their dreams. Lamar University has benefited from the right leadership at critical times: presidents like John Gray, who inspired community confidence and had great vision, and James Simmons, who came from the faculty to lead Lamar University in unprecedented positive change and a bold vision for the future.

For almost a century, Lamar University has been living up to its motto – “Texas Roots.  Infinite Possibilities.” Throughout its history, Lamar University has provided the educational resources needed to challenge students from a variety of backgrounds to realize their own possibilities. 

The January 10, 1901 discovery of oil in the Spindletop salt dome field of south Beaumont, along with the second and more productive find in 1925-1927 not only ushered the world into the modern petroleum era, but also drew a young and ambitious population to Southeast Texas.  The people attracted by the oil industry would need higher education.

The genesis of what is today Lamar University can be traced to Louis Pietzsch.  While superintendent of the South Park School District, he attended summer school at the University of Chicago in 1918 and learned of the junior college movement.  Returning home, he explored the possibility of a junior college for the South Park School District.  By 1921, Pietzsch was convinced that his district should have a junior college, an educational experiment at the time because junior colleges created and supported by a single school district were almost unknown.  In December 1921, voters of the South Park School District literally bought into his dream by approving a bond issue large enough to construct a three-story high school building that could hold twice as many students as were expected to enroll in South Park High School. No official statement concerning a junior college had been made prior to the bond election, but there had been hints that a junior college would be created and housed in the new facility if the bond issue passed.

On March 8, 1923, the South Park board of trustees instructed Pietzsch to proceed with plans for the opening of “a junior college of the first class.”  On May 26, 1923, the board selected Pietzsch to be the president of South Park Junior College as well as the superintendent of South Park Schools.  Carl Bingman was named dean of the college and principal of the new high school, and the third floor of the new South Park High School building was to house the new junior college.

South Park Junior College began operations on September 17, 1923, when 100 students registered.  By the time registration ended, 125 students were taking classes at the fledgling junior college, which became an integral part of South Park schools.  Most of the college classes took place on the third floor, but classes also convened in other parts of the building.  Located on the second floor, the library was used by both high school and college students as were the gym and cafeteria. 

Pietzsch did not remain in his position of college president long, but became Beaumont city manager in 1924.  Carl W. Bingman, better known as “Skipper,” became the second president of the college.  One of his early acts was to hire the 18-year-old John E. Gray to teach courses in technical mathematics.  

During its first nine years, South Park Junior College earned recognition as one of the finest junior colleges in Texas.  In April 1924, South Park became the first college in Texas to be approved by the Texas State Department of Education during the first year of operation.  The Texas Association of Colleges granted full accreditation in 1925.  That year the positions of college dean and high school principal were separated, adding to the autonomy of the educational institutions. 

By 1932 the college had become an increasingly independent institution. There was some overlap, especially in athletics, but the college was essentially a separate entity.  The separation was symbolized by a schedule of classes in which no faculty member was scheduled to teach in both the college and the high school.  However, the third floor of South Park High School was no longer sufficient to meet the needs of a growing college. A building program began in 1933 that created almost entirely distinct facilities for the college.  The Board of Trustees wished to emphasize that the college had evolved into a regional institution and decided to change the school’s name. The board held an essay contest, with $100 scholarship as a prize, inviting the public to suggest names for the school.  Twenty-five people suggested the name Lamar College, but on the basis of his essay, Otho Plummer, a graduate of the college and later a regent, was named the winner.  The name honored Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas, regarded as the founder of public education in Texas.  To emphasize the name change, John Gray, then head coach and athletic director, dropped the old athletic nickname “Brahmas” and chose a new name, “Cardinals.”

Although these changes occurred during the Great Depression, a time when many institutions faltered, Lamar College continued to grow. College authorities did what they could to help students.  In 1938, about half of the students were employed by the college at wages that enabled them to earn all or part of their tuition, fees, and textbooks.

By the end of the 1930s, it was obvious that further expansion of Lamar College would impose an unsustainable burden on the South Park School District.  Given a choice of finding a wider financial base for the college or curtailing what appeared to be a bright future of growth and expansion, college and community leaders turned to the idea of an enlarged junior college district.  A Young Men’s Business League committee, working closely with Lamar College officials and the South Park school board, spearheaded the creation of a union junior college district composed of the Beaumont, South Park, and French school districts.  On September 21, 1940, voters approved the creation of a Lamar Union Junior College District, the issuance of bonds to construct an entirely new college facility, a new tax for support and maintenance, and the election of trustees to govern the college.

On June 2, 1941, even though the college still occupied the old campus, the new board assumed operational control, and the cord that had tied the college to the South Park District was officially cut.  The new campus was on a 58 acre tract of land on the Port Arthur Highway, just three blocks east of what was then the Lamar College campus. 

As Lamar College began work on a new million dollar campus, war clouds loomed darkly in the background. In the latter months of 1940, Washington officials recognized that a vast expansion of industries was necessary to provide war materials to be provided under the lend lease program. Congress appropriated funds for the establishment of schools for training of skilled mechanics for war industries. Beaumont was recognized as a strategic location due to the proximity to the Gulf Coast and its industries of petroleum refining and shipbuilding.

Lamar College was a natural choice as a place to train war workers, and its leaders worked hard to tackle the challenges of creating a college campus as well as training hundreds of wartime workers.  One of the problems that Lamar College faced was how to finance the transformation of an old tank farm to a beautiful college campus. Thanks to its burgeoning role in the defense of the nation, Lamar College received a Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant in 1941, which literally laid the groundwork for the new campus. Drainage particularly was a concern of college officials because the site was near the Neches River. By December 1941, the last major construction contract had been awarded

Also in 1941 Lamar College began training programs for workers in the war industries, particularly Pennsylvania Shipyard. The college initially offered 18 vocational classes for men on such topics as auto and airplane engine mechanics, marine electricity, and sheet metal. Instructors for these classes were longtime employees of the shipyard.

As the United States geared up for World War II, Lamar College began to offer courses 24 hours a day. While Lamar College still offered traditional courses the college also served the needs of a country preparing for war. One of the critical needs was a fleet of skilled office workers to deal with the mountains of paperwork created by war, so Lamar College began offering classes in typing, shorthand, and posting machines. These classes signaled an important change in the workplace. Although some women had worked in office jobs before the war, many industries had been entirely male domains before World War II. 

As the United States entered the war, Lamar College and the rest of the nation had to increasingly depend on women to meet the ever growing needs of a labor-starved nation.  A major change took place in 1942 when war industry classes were opened to women 18 years of age and older. Women were taking classes in welding, burning, and pipefitting so that they could replace men at the shipyard. 

While the college was educating both traditional students and hordes of wartime workers, it was also continuing work on the new campus. In spring 1942, the college began moving to its new quarters; and on June 1 of that year, John E. Gray assumed the presidency.

President Gray’s leadership encouraged the college to make important contributions to the war effort. Lamar College was not only training civilians but the military as well. Before the war, Dean O.B. Archer headed the Civilian Pilot Training, which was initially designed to allow civilians to assist in the war effort in their spare time while maintaining full-time jobs. Later the program’s goal was to release other fliers for combat duty. By 1942, the Civilian Pilot Training was instructing men between the ages 21-34 who were beyond the Army cadet age limit or who had slight physical defects that kept them out of combat. Lamar College offered a 60-day program for 10 pilots at a time. In 1943, Lamar College provided ground school and flight work training to naval aviators from New England. 

 The campus was a different place during the war. The composition of students changed dramatically. Before the war, male students outnumbered females by a ratio of more than two to one. But during the war, with so many young men serving in the military, more women than men were enrolled at the college. Many of the administrators also served, including President Gray who served in the Navy near the end of the war.  

Lamar College had made great strides during World War II. It had carved out a million dollar campus from an old oil company tank farm and had provided education to a wealth of military personnel. Moreover, the college provided training to 12,000 war workers who were constructing ships and other desperately needed materials. Sadly, 67 students who had attended Lamar College died during the war.

The academic year 1945-1946 saw the return of President Gray and a deluge of students as the postwar boom hit Lamar College.  This boom, which swamped all of the senior colleges and universities in Texas, gave new force to the idea that Lamar College should become a senior college.  Four-year status had been discussed in the past, but no action had been taken.  President Gray, members of the board, attorney J.B. Morris, legislators and other Southeast Texas citizens helped formulate and execute a plan to secure legislative approval.  Early in the legislative session of 1947, a bill to make Lamar College a state-supported senior college was introduced in the Texas House by Rep. Jack Brooks, a former Lamar College student.  Most observers estimated that the bill stood only a 50-50 chance of passing both houses of the Legislature as critics questioned why Lamar College should be raised in status.  Supporters emphasized that the Sabine area was the only area not served by a four-year college; that the area was the home of a great industrial, petrochemical concentration; and that the four-year college would emphasize engineering and science.

Supporters had planned and executed well; the measure secured the approval of the Texas Legislature, but the victory proved short lived.  The bill contained an appropriation of $1 million for new construction but could go to the governor for signature only if the comptroller certified that sufficient revenue would be available.  The comptroller did not certify the availability of revenue, and the bill died.  Planners returned to the Legislature the following session, finding success in both houses.  The power of Lt. Gov. Allan Shivers proved sufficient to force approval in the Texas Senate.

On June 14, 1949, Gov. Beauford Jester signed the bill that provided for the creation of Lamar State College of Technology; the transfer of all lands, buildings, and equipment of Lamar College to the new college; and an appropriation of $1 million for construction.  The new college would emphasize engineering, technology, and science.  The Board of Regents had the authority to establish other educational programs deemed proper.  At the dawn of the 1950s, President Gray offered the regents his ideas for the development of the four-year institution recommending that the college continue to offer its two-year pre-professional, general education, and technical-vocational programs and add four-year programs in engineering, science, home economics, health and physical education, and business administration.  The regents approved, and on September 1, 1951, Lamar State College of Technology officially became a four-year institution.  In October of that year, Gray announced his resignation to accept a position as executive vice president of the First National Bank of Beaumont.  G.A. Wimberly was named acting president until a permanent successor could be selected.

Though Gray retired from Lamar State College of Technology’s presidency, he remained active in Texas higher education.  Gov. John Connally appointed Gray first chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in September 1965, a position he held until January 1969.  Under Gray's leadership the Coordinating Board produced a number of notable achievements such as creation of a 10-year master plan, increased funding for higher education, adoption of a new statewide core curriculum, and establishment of new state colleges at Corpus Christi, Dallas, San Antonio, and Midland-Odessa. Of special interest to faculty members was the creation of new programs for developmental leave, health insurance, and retirement.

F.L. McDonald assumed the presidency on June 1, 1952, a position he would hold for almost 15 years.  During those years, Lamar State College of Technology expanded in both enrollment and physical size.  Its rapid growth may be partially explained by the post-war college population explosion that swamped many colleges in the 1950s and 1960s, but Lamar State College of Technology’s growth exceeded the average.  During much of the period, Lamar State College of Technology was the fastest growing senior college in Texas. It was able to enhance its appeal to students when in 1954 it expanded its focus to a general purpose, regional college offering baccalaureate degrees in most of the traditional disciplines.

Following turbulent and even violent times of racial struggle, U.S. District Court Judge Lamar Cecil ordered the desegregation of the university in 1956, opening the institution’s doors to the African American population and causing enrollment increases.  Twenty-six black students enrolled; however, it was not until 1962 that Anthony Guillory, a Hebert High School graduate and football standout, became the first black athlete in Lamar State College of Technology’s sports program.  After blazing the trail for generations to come, he went on to play professionally for the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles.

Between 1952 and 1967, the number of students grew from 2,500 to 10,000.  The size of the campus more than doubled, and the number of academic buildings increased from five in 1952 to 25 in 1967.  President McDonald died in 1967, and the Board of Regents quickly promoted Richard W. Setzer, vice president of academic affairs, to the presidency.  Lamar State College of Technology’s gymnasium was named in McDonald’s honor.  After Setzer’s death two years later, the Board of Regents voted to name the student union in his memory.  He was succeeded by Frank A. Thomas, Jr.

In September 1969, Lamar State College of Technology opened its first extension center in Orange.  A year later, the institution enhanced its status as a research institution with the introduction of its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Engineering.  In 1971, Gov. Preston Smith signed a bill changing the name of Lamar State College of Technology to Lamar University.  During the decade, Lamar University began operating two branch campuses.  In 1971, the Orange extension center became Lamar University-Orange, offering two years of course work. In 1975 Port Arthur College merged with Lamar University, establishing Lamar University-Port Arthur.

After Frank Thomas resigned from the presidency on May 30, 1972, the Board of Regents named John Gray to the presidency for a second time.  During his second term, Lamar University enjoyed a five-year period of growth and harmony.  In 1976, the family of the late businessman and philanthropist Edgar W. Brown Jr. donated the family mansion and grounds to Lamar University. Named the Brown Center, the facility became a conference and special events center for Lamar University and the citizens of Southeast Texas.  Also in 1976, Lamar University dedicated the eight-story library as the Mary and John Gray Library.  As part of the national bicentennial celebration, the university dedicated the Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum, commemorating the role of the 1901 Spindletop Oil Field discovery on the region, state, nation, and world. 

On February 1, 1977, Gray retired as president of Lamar University, and C. Robert Kemble was named as the seventh president.  Kemble, a West Point graduate, worked with Elvis Mason to found the John Gray Institute, a think tank which opened in 1981.   Its mission was to alleviate tension between organized labor and management that shadowed the petrochemical base of Southeast Texas.  Another milestone of the Kemble presidency was the creation of the Lamar University System in spring 1983 by the Texas Legislature, entitling the university to an additional $2.4 million in state funds annually.  Lamar University in Beaumont was the primary institution.  Other components were LU-Port Arthur, LU-Orange, the College of Technical Arts, and the John Gray Institute.  The combined enrollment in the Lamar System exceeded 15,000, and regents selected President Kemble to serve as first chancellor of the system.

Billy J. Franklin succeeded Kemble in 1985, becoming the eighth president of Lamar University.  During his time in office, the university began offering programs to address the environment and instituted endowed chairs to enhance scholarship at the university. Lamar University’s Gulf Coast Hazardous Substance Research Center was created by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986.  Two years later, the Texas Hazardous Waste Research Center began operations in research, evaluation, testing, development, and demonstration of alternative or innovative technologies in the minimization, destruction, and handling of hazardous wastes.  In 1987, Lamar University announced the establishment of its first endowed faculty chair, the Homer L. Walles Chair in Visual and Performing Arts.  The following year, two more endowed chairs, the Gill Chair in Chemical Engineering/Chemistry and the C.W. Conn Chair in Gifted Education, were established. 

During Franklin’s years in office, Lamar University-Orange and Lamar University-Port Arthur became increasingly independent two-year institutions.  They were granted separate accreditation in 1988 and 1989, respectively, through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  The Legislature removed restrictions that kept both campuses from purchasing land and constructing new buildings, and, in 1991, Senate Bill 843 passed, allowing Lamar University-Port Arthur and Lamar University-Orange to begin granting their own degrees.

The early 1990s were a time of turbulence in Lamar University’s administration.  After Franklin’s departure, John Idoux served as interim president from August 1991 to March 1992. He was followed by W. Brock Brentlinger who served as interim president until Rex Cottle became president of Lamar University on February 26, 1993.  Discussion intensified on the idea of merging the Lamar University System with The Texas State University System (TSUS). Sen. Michael Galloway and Rep. Mark Stiles drafted legislation to make Lamar University part of the TSUS in February 1995.  Although the Lamar University System chancellor and regents voted to oppose the legislation, the bill passed, and Lamar University officially became a part of The Texas State University System on September 1, 1995, joining Angelo State University, Sam Houston State University, Southwest Texas State University and Sul Ross State University.  The campuses in Orange and Port Arthur and the Institute of Technology became separate components of the TSUS.

The fourth and fifth endowed chairs were established at Lamar University in the late 1990s.  The Jack Brooks Chair in Government and Public Service was established with gifts on behalf of former U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks, a key figure in the history of the university.  The fifth chair, the William B. and Mary G. Mitchell Chair of Engineering, was established in 1998. 

President Cottle submitted his resignation in March 1998.  Dr. William Johnson, president emeritus of Stephen F. Austin State University, became interim president in May.  In the summer of 1999, former Lamar University campuses in Orange and Port Arthur and the Institute of Technology changed their names to Lamar State College-Orange, Lamar State College-Port Arthur and Lamar Institute of Technology.

On February 9, 1999, a new millennium began early at Lamar University when The Texas State University System Board of Regents appointed James M. Simmons, a 30-year Lamar University faculty veteran, chair of music, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and interim executive director of University Advancement, as president effective September 1.  President Simmons, a Beaumont native, has led the renaissance of Lamar University.  According to prominent alumnus Elvis Mason, “the transformation at Lamar University and the esteem in which it is held today is due to Jimmy Simmons and the team he assembled. His legacy will be the most remarkable in Lamar University’s history.” A hugely popular leader with extensive ties throughout the campus and community, Simmons has strengthened the “town-gown” relationship by uniting the disparate communities and populations of Southeast Texas behind Lamar University.  Following his appointment, Simmons’ immediate vision was to expand the university’s reach and influence by enhancing its academic programs and then constructing attractive, safe, and functional residence halls, dining facilities, and recreational and sports buildings.  At the same time, he spearheaded development efforts to provide much-needed funding for scholarship programs, academic offerings, and construction projects.   

In 2008, Lamar University was the fastest growing university in Texas.  In 10 years, enrollment had increased 64 percent and the percentage of students taking full-time loads increased from 63 percent to 70 percent.  One important contributor to the increased enrollment was Lamar University’s academic partnership with Higher Education Holdings of Dallas headed by entrepreneur and Lamar University alumnus Randy Best.  This program has allowed more than 4,000 public school teachers in more than 200 school districts across Texas to obtain master’s degrees from Lamar University via distance learning and has made the university the largest provider of master’s level education for teachers in the nation.

Lamar University has not only increased the number of students, but also the quality of students as reflected in improved graduation rates and enrollment of more students with SAT scores above 1200 than ever before.  Quality students are recruited and retained through enhanced privately funded scholarships.  Two particular points of pride are the Mirabeau Scholars and the David Beck Fellows, both Simmons initiatives that recruit top academic talent, a hallmark of a strong university.  Almost 70 high ability students have been named Mirabeau Scholars, each receiving full tuition, fees, room, books, supplies and board for four years.  Beck Fellows receive the same scholarship package for one year, plus a $10,000 summer stipend for an educational enrichment experience.  The first Beck Fellow, nursing major Jennifer Mikel, spent the summer of 2009 in rural Ghana studying health care delivery in a third world environment. The second Beck Fellow, biology major Michael Zarzosa, conducted research on parasite transmission in Belize. 

In the past decade, the university has added many programs including five new bachelor’s degrees, three new master’s degrees, and three new doctoral degrees, including its first Ph.D. program.  The university’s sixth and seventh academic chairs were established by Michael E. and Patricia P. Aldredge and Andrew and Joyce Green, both in engineering.  The university’s announced its first named department, the JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing, in 2006.  The following year the Phillip M. Drayer Department of Electrical Engineering was named. In 2009, the Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering was named.

Simmons has brought students to Lamar University not only with scholarships and academic excellence but also by offering state-of-the-art facilities.  Under his leadership, five residence halls – a 2,500-bed complex known as Cardinal Village – helped attract students from beyond the region.  The residence halls are complemented by a modern dining hall.  Another recently constructed facility attracting students to Lamar University is the Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center.  The 129,550-square-foot building honors a $5 million gift from Walter and Sheila Umphrey and features a wealth of amenities, including cardiovascular and free-weight training, a walking/jogging track, and a 43-foot climbing wall.

Another factor that encourages students to enroll at Lamar University is the return of the football program.  Discontinued in 1989, football returned to the Lamar University campus in the fall of 2010.  Student interest in football was demonstrated by their willingness to assess themselves a fee to support the sport.  In a student referendum, 94 percent voted to assess the football fee.  The Cardinals will join Southland Conference play in 2011 in newly created facilities comprising the Provost Umphrey Stadium, W.S. “Bud” Leonard Field, Dan F. and Sandra A. Smith Press Box, Morgan Suites, as well as one of the largest scoreboards in the region funded by Education First Federal Credit Union.

A striking aspect of Simmons’ years in office is that so much progress has been accomplished in a decade, despite being hit by two major hurricanes, Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.  When Hurricane Rita hit in 2005, vast areas of Texas and Louisiana were devastated. Lamar University did not escape Rita’s wrath. In all, 80 percent of Lamar University’s buildings were heavily damaged.  The Mary and John Gray Library and the Maes Building were among those hardest hit.  The University Reception Center on the eighth floor of the library was virtually destroyed.  Cardinal Village suffered greatly with water soaking most rooms.  The university’s prime athletic facility, the Montagne Center, also suffered substantial damage. Simmons conferred with TSUS Chancellor Charles Matthews, obtaining system support.  During this time, the president’s home on Iowa Street served as headquarters, with as many as half a dozen key officials staying there, guiding the university through a 21 day recovery period.  A carefully revised academic calendar enabled seniors to graduate on time and others to complete the fall semester.

Hurricane Ike, the third-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States, hit Southeast Texas in 2008.  Destruction at the university included significant damage to the Montagne Center where exterior tiles were lost, window walls gave way, and portions of the roof blew out.  A significant portion of the university’s residence hall rooms had water penetration and required remediation.  Fortunately, Lamar University made many changes in the wake of Hurricane Rita that enabled the university to recover quickly.  Substantially improved roofing on campus buildings helped limit Hurricane Ike’s damage.  Alterations in the campus information technology systems allowed greater protection and restoration of campus data systems.  Classes resumed in 10 days and, with adjustments, the semester was completed on time.

The progress at Lamar University, even in the wake of devastating hurricanes, fostered confidence in the university and a deep respect for the leadership of President Simmons; this encouraged donors to contribute generously to the university.  In 10 years, combined endowments in the university and the Lamar University Foundation had almost tripled, from $22 million to more than $70 million in 2010.

The biggest fundraising campaign in the university’s history was announced at a gala event in 2008.  “Investing in the Future: The Campaign for Lamar University” will raise over $125 million for the university. President Simmons termed it “a very ambitious—but achievable—goal.”  He called it “a catalyst for turning possibilities into realities—a bold investment in the future unparalleled in the history of this great university.”  During the first two years, a silent phase, $54 million was raised. By fall 2010, $70 million was raised despite a slow economy.  The campaign continues through 2013.

This fundraising campaign will enable Lamar University to continue its great heritage of service to the community, state, and nation. From its earliest days as a modest junior college, Lamar University has been a catalyst for better lives. Lamar University’s graduates have gone on to great careers in a wealth of fields including business, law, and medicine. In some cases, Lamar University’s alumni have been at the highest levels of our government.

Lamar University has a long history of visionaries who boldly recognized opportunities and took action to make their dreams a reality — from Louis Pietzsch who dreamed of offering higher education to the students of his school district to James Simmons who has overseen a renaissance of all aspects of the university preparing it well for the next chapter in its vibrant history.

This new chapter began when a new president, Dr. Kenneth Evans, became president of Lamar University in 2013. He arrived at Lamar University after more than six years as dean and Fred E. Brown Chair at the Michael F. Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to OU, Evans served in a variety of administrative roles while at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he also held the Pinkney C. Walker Professorship, and Arizona State University serving as a faculty member in marketing.

Evans received his doctorate from the University of Colorado, his M.B.A. from California-Davis. His research has been published in the most prestigious marketing and business academic journals and has received national and international recognition for his contributions in many of these publications. Evans is an award-winning teacher and has been recognized for his work in the design and implementation of interactive learning experiences and graduate education. Additionally, he has been acknowledged for his role in building program initiatives that provide primarily undergraduate students access to opportunities to study abroad.

Major initiatives by Evans at all three of his previous academic institutions were focused on improving faculty quality in research and teaching, design and implementation of new programming and recruiting and retention of high quality students.

The university will formally celebrate Dr. Evans presidency with an investiture ceremony and public reception on November 7, 2013.