By: Joshua Davila
Here at Our Lady of the Lake University, Dr. Marcheta Evans, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, can best be characterized by how she decorates her office. The walls are coated with paintings, awards, photos that detail her life through art pieces given to her by former students and staff. The work space illustrates how devoted Dr. Evans is to her family, to social justice and to her students.
In the office, Dr. Evans pointed to a painting on the wall of three young ladies. The painting serves as a representation of three of her six children. Two of the younger children liked to give “side eye” to the oldest of the trio. She also pointed out an awful remnant of American history in the image: an actual “whites only and colored only” sign from her home state, Alabama. The sign was a perfect opportunity to transition into the conversation of Confederate statues.
Dr. Evans studied specific history questions: How does one move past trials if the initial trials are forgotten? We need to have context to carrying on these relics of a disgusting history, or we are effectively glorifying that disgusting history. With the Confederate statues, Dr. Evans articulated her disappointment in the fight to keep them in prominence, but is still weary of destroying them. Dr. Evans would like to see the Confederate statues put into a place that can stand as a representational monument of what not to do. Most importantly, these monuments should not glorify a dark time in history, particularly a dark part of history that she witnessed firsthand.
Dr. Evans was born in Mobile, Alabama and grew up in the 1960s. She recalls the riots vividly and remembers the day she found out about the assassination of The Revered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her grandmother cared for her throughout most of her childhood and instilled in her the importance of education and responsibility. Still, Dr. Evans’ grandmother’s teachings and childhood struggles cultivated her spirituality and unique outlook on life and discourse.
As a teenager, Dr. Evans attended H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C., and graduated early in 1976. From there she studied General Biology at Oakwood College, a historically black university before obtaining a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in history from the University of Alabama. Later, Dr. Evens pursued an Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and earned a Master of Arts in Elementary Education and Teaching at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Evans returned to the University of Alabama to earn her Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision.
After so many accomplishments, Dr. Evans insists that these milestones are not only her achievements, but rather a societal achievement. According to Dr. Evans, she uses every promotion and earned degree as an opportunity to advance the lives of the disenfranchised. She emphasizes that responsibility without service is wasted responsibility.
Even as a dedicated member of the OLLU community, Dr. Evans will accept her new position as the first female African American president of the four-year, private liberal arts institution of Bloomfield College in New Jersey. She describes the new venture as “bittersweet.” While Dr. Evans is sad to leave her community and home, she embraces the opportunity to continue being a voice and champion of the disenfranchised. Before beginning her tenure position in June. Dr. Evans provided some final advice for students at OLLU. “Never stop trying and never stop achieving. Our voices matter,” she said.