By Queen Ramirez
For the first time in 30 years, UIW celebrated the inauguration of a new president, Dr. Thomas M. Evans, on Thursday, March 22.
During the inaugural week, UIW hosted a community picnic on March 20, an invite-only liturgy in the Chapel of the Incarnate Word to bless Evans on March 22 and continuing that evening with the inauguration ceremony at Alice McDermott Convocation Center and a
reception in the Student Engagement Center Ballroom. The week ended with a Day of Service on Saturday, March 24.
District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca J. Viagran and Bobby Rosenthal, mayor for the City of Alamo Heights and former chair of the presidential search committee for the Board of Trustees, came to greet and welcome Evans, UIW’s 10th president.
Dr. George Martin, president of St. Edward’s University, shared his personal relationship with Evans, a former St. Edward’s vice president, as he formally introduced Evans during the ceremony.
“I first met Tom when he was a young dean, a graduate in adult studies at St. Edward’s University’s new college,” Martin said. “I was struck immediately by his intelligence, ability and creativity. I made a mental note to keep my eye on him; for other reasons too.”
Martin also discussed Evans’s dedication to both UIW and family. “Tom is dedicated to his family,” Martin said. “He cherishes his wife, Lisa. She is his soulmate and his confidante. Tom and Lisa share a very strong bond of love and almost as strong a passion for Japanese food.”
Trustees Board Chairman Charlie Lutz and Sister Teresa Maya, congregational leader for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and a member of the trustees, presented Evans with two inaugural symbols — the presidential medallion, created by Adam Mulder, an assistant professor of art, and the mace to symbolize his authority over UIW. Evans took the podium and addressed all those responsible for supporting him and thanking the community for their love.
“You can understand why I’ll often say that we are many parts but one body,” Evans said. “That we are ‘One Word.’ In this world of rapid change, how do we provide a reliable source of connection, mentorship and belonging? How do we celebrate the dignity of that come with living for a purpose greater than one’s self?”
Evans placed focus on concentrating on “high ability, low-income students” who are born into circumstances that make obtaining higher education difficult and limit their chances of graduating.
“By improving student-academic support levels and by providing them with additional recourses we will improve our graduation rate,” Evans said.
Evans announced the largest-endowed scholarship commitment given to UIW meant to provide and enhance student mentorship and resources to increase academic support and graduation. Through an endowment of $1 million donated by Carlos Alvarez, UIW will be able to give more financial support mentoring to “high-performing, under-resourced students” to promote high achievement, Evans said.
Additionally, there was an announcement of a task force of inclusion and diversity to enhance the student-experience and elevate human dignity.
“I envision this process as encouraging innovation and fostering collaboration across existing supporting lines,” Evans said. “We will unite and identify our programs in ways that make us ever more ‘One Word.’ That will make us better-known and improve our reputational standing. Simply stated, we intend to tell the better story, and to tell the story better.”