Lamar University President Kenneth Evans Announces Retirement (1/25/21)
Lamar University’s fifteenth president, Dr. Kenneth Evans, has announced his retirement from LU effective June 30, 2021. Evans joined Lamar University in July 2013 with a focus on improving support for faculty research and teaching, design and implementation of new programming, campus beautification, and recruitment and retention of high-quality students.
“It has been a highlight of my career to have had the honor of working with Ken and Nancy Evans. Their impact on Lamar University is remarkable,” said TSUS Chancellor Brian McCall. “Under Ken’s leadership, the university has strengthened its academic and research programs, developed unique academic niches, increased enrollment to an all-time high, moved to a new athletic conference, and launched an unprecedented campus expansion and beautification effort, to name just a few achievements. Lamar University is better because of their service.”
Under Evans’ leadership, more new construction was completed on campus than during the previous 40 years. The Wayne A. Reaud Building was completed in 2016 to house university administration and the Reaud Honors College; the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, completed in 2017, was built to serve as a conduit for industry and university interactions, and business incubation; and an 85,000 square foot Science & Technology Building with state-of-the-art instrumentation and a makerspace was completed in 2019. Also, in 2019, Lamar University’s Vincent-Beck Field was completely renovated following the completion of a new softball complex that was completed in 2016. A Welcome Center will open this spring, culminating a five-year plan to create Lamar University’s first official front door.
In addition to new construction, Evans and his team oversaw a complete renovation of the Setzer Student Center and Quadrangle, as well as the first floor of the Mary and John Gray Library. Numerous classrooms across campus, the President’s Suite at the Montagne Center, Music Annex Building, Landes Auditorium, and the Science Auditorium were all updated. Evans initiated maintenance schedules for residence halls, added new parking for students and updated the south-central power plant infrastructure.
Along with LU’s first lady, Nancy, who passed away in 2018, Evans was committed to further enhancing the aesthetics of LU. Together, they supported the establishment of a Public Art Committee. Nancy worked tirelessly on the committee and helped acquire numerous works of art for buildings, public areas, and green spaces to enrich the university’s cultural life. A master gardener, Nancy also worked in LU’s flowerbeds and provided vision for remodeling and renovation projects, and started the Women and Philanthropy program to promote philanthropic education, leadership, and advocacy by empowering women to be active participants in the giving process.
During his time at LU, Evans established several centers to enhance student learning and meet regional needs. The Center for Advances in Port Management, established in 2015, prepares the port and marine terminal industry for 21st century challenges through advanced education and research. The Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast supports the creation, preservation, and transmission of knowledge about Southeast Texas. The Center for Educational Innovation and Digital Learning advances the application and impact of digital learning, and infuses digital education in both K-12 and post-secondary environments. The Center for Midstream Management and Science serves as a bridge between Lamar University and the midstream industry, including oil and gas transportation, gas processing, terminals, and storage.
More recently, Evans launched the President’s Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, Access and Equity to work collaboratively with the entire university community in transforming LU into a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, welcoming and supportive environment. Evans also supported LU athletics, including a move to the Western Athletic Conference from the Southland Conference, to expand LU’s brand to an additional six states.
“It has been a privilege and honor to join the faculty, staff, and administration of Lamar University to collectively strive to advance LU and most importantly serve our students these past seven years,” said Evans. “I take with me fond memories of the people I have known and the work we have collaborated to complete.”
The Texas State University System Office will retain a search firm by February 1 and begin the process of a nationwide search for Evans’ successor. Dr. Evans will remain president until his successor is onboard, most likely this summer.