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Eli N. Evans ’58, president emeritus of the Charles H. Revson Foundation of New York, recently was honored by the foundation with a $250,000 gift to UNC’s Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, which was launched in spring 2003. He chairs the center’s advisory board.
The gift will establish a program in Evans’ name that supports outreach activities on campus and in communities across North Carolina. It will provide for an annual scholar-in-residence to present a public lecture and meet with students, faculty and the community; other visiting speakers; and lectures by UNC faculty to groups in N.C. communities, ranging in subject from the origins of the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Holocaust and the history of Jews in the American South.
Evans, who served as UNC’s student body president, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1987, marking the first father-son pair to receive the award at Carolina. His father, E.J. Evans ’28, was a mayor of Durham (1951-63) and served as a president of UNC’s General Alumni Association (1972-73). He received his Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1972.
Eli Evans, who also graduated from Yale’s law school in 1963, became the first president of the Revson Foundation in 1978. In that role, he oversaw grants totaling more than $147 million to Jewish causes, urban affairs, education and biomedical research. He retired in 2003 after 25 years at the foundation.
Evans’ books include The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South, Judah P. Benjamin: The Jewish Confederate and The Lonely Days Were Sundays: Reflections of a Jewish Southerner.
Evans lives in New York City with his wife, Judith; his son Josh is a freshman at UNC.
“Eli has been involved with the center since its inception, sharing his time, his vision and his deep love for Carolina,” said Jonathan M. Hess, director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and a Germanic languages professor. “It is a great honor for us that the Revson Foundation has made this gift to recognize him.”
UNC was one of the first major public universities to offer courses in Judaism more than 50 years ago. Ten alumni serve on the center’s advisory board, including Stuart E. Eizenstat ’64, former deputy U.S. Treasury secretary.
“It is inspiring to witness Jewish studies for all faiths coming alive at UNC,” Evans said. “The center is a consequential idea, and this is the right time and place in history to launch it. What our flagship University does will radiate across the South and the nation.”
The gift counts toward the University’s Carolina First campaign goal of $1.8 billion.