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Mourning Dean Donna Browder Evans

Gemma McLuckie
Wed, 2013-04-03 11:18

Dean Donna Browder Evans Led With Energy, Commitment

Donna Browder Evans Dean Donna Browder Evans




Donna Browder Evans, retired dean of the College of Education and professor emerita of education, died on March 27, 2013, after a short illness.She was remembered on Saturday, April 6, 2013, at St. Philip Episcopal Church in Columbus. Her daughter and son-in-law Jocelyn B. and Michael D. Smith, and grandchildren Danielle and Alex, met with friends at 9 a.m. Services were held at 10 a.m. Following her interment, a repast was held at the church.

Years leading the College of Education

When Ohio State alumna Donna Browder Evans returned to Columbus, she brought with her energy and a commitment to building community.

During her tenure, she accomplished significant goals, which provided a foundation for continued growth and advancement. In her 2005 farewell to alumni, she outlined some of her achievements.

She told them she was proud of the 2004 commemoration of the Brown versus Board of Education court decision. It reminded the university and wider community how many doors were opened for learners of every background.

The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate helped all of higher education address the question of “What should doctoral programs be?”

Dr. Evans ensured that the college used its energy, diligence, and passion to renew its commitment to issues of equity and diversity.

She helped fulfill the dream of making the Charlotte S. Huck Professorship in Children’s Literature a full-time, tenure-track position.

The college established the Office of Outreach and Engagement, which enrolled 8,700 in-service teachers in 367 professional development courses – serving a huge need in schools.

The Ohio Collaborative educational policy initiative involved the entire state of Ohio college and university system.

And the Literacy Collaborative, funded initially by the Jennings Foundation, continues to aid school districts nationwide.

Dr. Evans considered UTEC – the University Teacher Education Coordinating Committee – a crowning achievement.  The committee established collaboration among Ohio State’s many teacher preparation programs, as well as revitalizing them. Under the UTEC umbrella, undergraduate licensure was strengthened and an interdisciplinary middle childhood education major established.

Early years

Dr. Evans was raised on the east side of Columbus. Her parents insisted that she and her brother prepare for college, but when she graduated East High School at age 16, her father determined it was best to delay her enrollment an extra semester.

“I thrived at Ohio State,” she said during a 2000 interview. She was president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Theta Chapter, and enjoyed attending with many of her classmates from East High School.

She found career choices for African Americans were limited. She wanted to teach history, but jobs for black educators in that field were scarce. She eventually decided on elementary education. Ohio State in the early 1950s offered integrated courses, but local public schools were segregated. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1954, she taught second graders in a new elementary school for black children in Columbus.

During 11 years of teaching, she did not accept negative thinking about disadvantaged children. She recalled, “I knew the children could learn, and they did learn.” She organized enrichment opportunities -- Christmas plays, square dancing, and field trips – and visited every child’s home. The inner city community came to respect her for it.

She saw the value in school counseling to aid even small children, and chose the field for her master’s degree, graduating in 1964 from Ohio State. She was instrumental in crafting the Columbus Public Schools’ first formal counseling program for elementary students.

She went on to earn a doctoral degree in counselor education, human growth and development, and educational administration in 1970. She joined the University of Cincinnati faculty as she completed her dissertation, then moved to the University of Maine as a faculty member from 1973-83. She became involved with the William Glasser Institute, which espoused school climate to help individuals take responsibility for their own actions. She also did post-doctoral work at Harvard University.

Career in higher education

Her administrative positions included deanships at Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education (1995-2000), University of North Florida (1991-95), and Wayne State University (1987-91). She previously had served as education department chair at Skidmore College from 1983-87. At the University of Maine, she was acting dean of the graduate school from 1980-82.

In 2000, she returned to Ohio State to serve as dean of the College of Education, a position she held until accepting the post of Glenn Scholar for Urban Education for 2005. She retired from the university in 2006.

Her publications include a book, An Analysis of Learning Disabilities for the Classroom Teacher, numerous academic papers, several manuals for teachers and counselors, a monograph on America's People: An Imperiled Resource, technical reports, handbooks, brochures, and book reviews.

Dr. Evans was a keynote speaker for conferences on education, reality therapy and counseling, and served on the editorial boards of several education and counseling journals.

Among her honors was induction into Phi Lambda Theta International Honor Society for Women Educators.

She received various grants for urban education research, teacher preparation, and professional development for teachers. She was a member of numerous education committees ranging from the Holmes Partnership teacher preparation reform initiative, to the board of examiners of the National Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

She was serving the last year of a nine-year term as a Central State University trustee. She also chaired the Council of Great City Colleges of Education, 2002-2004, and was appointed to the City of Columbus education advisory commission, 2003-2005.

Dr. Evans called her 20 years as a dean, including her five years leading the College of Education, “exciting, frustrating, fun, mostly exhilarating, often exhausting, intellectually stimulating, and challenging.”

She looked forward to a time of revitalization, rather than retirement. She accomplished that goal – particularly through her many social and community activities and service to Central State University.

The entire Ohio State community, President Gee, the Board of Trustees and the College of Education and Human Ecology express our deepest sympathy to Dr. Evans’ family.


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