John P. Evans, Distinguished Service Medal Citation

(Editor’s Note: The GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal citations, such as this one, are read to the audience at the awards dinner and then presented as a keepsake to the recipients.)

When Jack Evans was associate dean of UNC’s business school, before he became the business school’s dean, a group of students came to his office demanding that a top administrator attend one of their meetings on an issue they deemed very important. No one lower than an associate dean would do, they said. Jack looked at them and deadpanned, “There is no one lower than an associate dean.”

One does not turn to Jack for flash or funny. People turn to him when they want things done, and done well, not because he livens up a party. And people all over this campus have, for years, turned straight to Jack for the things he’s good at.

Jack is a stalwart Midwesterner with an extraordinary work ethic. He approaches every task he’s given with the utmost competence, diligence and thoroughness. He’s not in it for personal glory.

Born and reared in Indiana and schooled at Cornell University in New York, where he received his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, his master’s in industrial engineering and his doctorate in operations research, Jack came to UNC in 1970 as an associate professor in the business school. Four years later, he was tapped by then-Chancellor Ferebee Taylor ’42 as the chancellor’s special assistant for planning. Five years after that, he was dean of the business school, launching the Master of Accounting and the Executive MBA programs; twice over the next few years he was turned to again to serve as interim dean.

Jack acquired a national reputation in the total quality management movement and, as a volunteer, taught and led teams of examiners who selected the winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award given by the president. In 2000, he was named the Phillip Hettleman Professor of operations technology and innovation management. He has been tapped into the Order of the Golden Fleece and served a term as faculty representative to the GAA Board of Directors.

His impact has been felt in athletics, too. For 15 years he was UNC’s faculty athletics representative to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He represented the ACC on the NCAA Management Council and twice served as ACC president. He plotted the University’s course through the very tense time of the ACC expansion, and Athletics Director Dick Baddour ’66 called him back into service during the football investigation last year.

“There are few people as well-respected as Jack in all communities,” Dick said, “in the town, the University, athletics and academics. He’s got tremendous analytical skills and the capacity to deal with extremely complex issues. But one of the reasons he gets called on over and over again is the tremendous amount of respect people have for him.”

During the transition between the chancellorships of the late Michael Hooker ’69 and James Moeser, Jack steadied the ship as the interim vice chancellor for finance and administration. Years later, James said, “I had no idea how much I would come to lean on Jack as time went on. Appointing him as executive director for Carolina North was one of the most important and best decisions I made.”

By 2006, the University and the Town of Chapel Hill had deadlocked over UNC’s plans to build a research campus on the Horace Williams tract. The chancellor set the challenge before Jack, who opened lines of communication between the two sides and got the stalled process moving. Three years later, the Town Council approved — unanimously — the plan for Carolina North.

Jack has been honored with several major awards, including the C. Knox Massey Award in 2002, the GAA’s Faculty Service Award in 2005, the Thomas Jefferson Award in 2010 and the business school’s Hugh & Jane McColl Faculty Development Award in 1991.

Jack retired in December after 40 years with the University; as you might imagine, when the paycheck stopped, the work did not. He had barely finished the last piece of cake from his retirement party when Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 called him and said, “I know you’ve been retired only 13 days, but we need you on a search committee.” Jack continues to serve on an NCAA committee and is program chair of the NCAA 2012 colloquium on academic reform, and he recently took office as chair of the UNC Press board.

Business school Dean Jim Dean said Jack exemplifies everything that is good about the University. “Jack has accomplished so much and done it with such unselfishness,” Dean said. “He’s one of my heroes, and one of the heroes of this University, and everyone should know that.”

You might expect Jack to downplay this recognition. You’d be correct. “The University has been nice enough to keep looking for a job I can hold onto for awhile,” he said. “One thing led to another, and here we are.”

The GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal has been awarded since 1978 to alumni and others who have provided outstanding service to the GAA and/or to the University. The award is presented at the annual Alumni Luncheon on the weekend of reunions and Commencement in May. Recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Service Medals are John P. “Jack” Evans, former dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School; Erskine B. Bowles ’67, who recently retired as president of the UNC System; and Sallie Shuping-Russell ’77, a member of the UNC Board of Trustees.

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