President Evans Leaves Impressive Legacy
When Lindenwood University’s 21st president, James D. Evans, PhD, announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of his contract at the end of May 2015, the Board of Directors congratulated him on his four decades of service and began a national search for his replacement.
Evans will have served as president for nearly nine years upon his retirement, closing the circle on an illustrious career spanning 41 academic years at Lindenwood University. He joined the faculty in August of 1974 as an assistant professor, advancing through the ranks to professor of psychology, dean of social sciences, dean of sciences, dean of faculty, and provost. He became acting president in August of 2006 and was appointed president in February of 2007.
During his time as president, Evans has steadfastly held true to a statement made November 9, 2007, during his investiture ceremony–“All of our investments are aimed at benefiting Lindenwood students, present and future, by providing the best faculty, staff, programs, and facilities–and by continually improving the services we render.”
Some of Evans’ numerous accomplishments as president include launching Lindenwood’s first doctoral program; the ascension of the institution’s award-winning student newspaper, The Legacy; significant improvements in faculty and staff credentials and achievement; enhanced community outreach; construction of a student center; membership in NCAA Division II; and several national and regional recognitions for quality of the workplace. Based on his pledge to significantly advance Lindenwood’s academic profile, Evans provided administrative directives and support that resulted in three additional specialized accreditations–two in business administration and a third in social work.
Another significant accomplishment includes the launch of a day college in Belleville, Ill., in 2009. The Belleville campus, which already had a thriving adult accelerated program in the evening, came to life during the daytime with somewhat fewer than 100 students. The campus now boasts more than 1,200 students roaming campus during daylight hours, a healthy NAIA sports program, and an expanding array of academic programs. As well, enrollment in the Belleville campus’ evening programs grew from slightly more than 700 to over 1,000 students during his term of office.
Evans oversaw the acquisition of a beautiful former high school building in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., which became the School of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, offering a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing, as well as other degrees in allied health. In connection with that purchase, he and the Lindenwood Board of Directors brokered an innovative partnership with St. Charles Community College that involved the college’s leasing of space in Lindenwood’s building. In another initiative, Evans spearheaded the acquisition of two hotels that were converted to residence halls, one each at the St. Charles and Belleville campuses.
Under Evans’ leadership, the University constructed two new dormitories on each of its residential campuses, a new student center, a building for NCAA athletics, and two pavilions, as well as a major expansion/renovation of Harmon Hall. Three new extension sites–Wildwood; Collinsville, Ill.; and Downtown St. Louis–were added during his tenure, and several others were remodeled and upgraded.
The J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts underwent its final phase of construction in 2008 and launched its regionally recognized professional series that fall. The University Commons, a beautiful new retail center situated on 30 acres Lindenwood owns along First Capitol Drive, opened in the fall of 2014 with the startup of a Schnucks supermarket, a CVS pharmacy, and several smaller specialty shops. Also in 2014, Evans secured approval from the Lindenwood Board of Directors to begin planning a new 100,000-square-foot library and learning resources center, which is expected to open in 2016.
During Evans’ presidency, official fall FTE enrollment has increased by more than 25 percent, annual revenues (including projected income for fiscal year 2015) have jumped by 75 percent, and the University’s endowment has nearly tripled.
Evans, who received his PhD in research psychology from Iowa State in 1974, will retire to Florida with his wife, Lois, a retired educator. They have a daughter, Laura, who lives in Ferguson, Mo.
(Excerpted from Lindenwood University Annual Report 13-14)