In Memoriam: Mary L. Evans


Mary Evans

Mary Levering Evans, assistant vice president emerita for student affairs at Miami University, died July 20, 2020. Evans, 81, began her career at Miami in 1966 as an assistant dean of women.

She went on to serve as assistant dean for co-curricular programs 1973-1980, associate dean of students and director of student activities 1980-1989, and then as assistant vice president for student affairs until she retired in 1992.

Jane Goettsch, who retired as director of Miami’s Women*s Initiatives Aug. 7, 2020, said Evans leaves a lasting legacy that her colleagues and her students will not forget.

“Mary stood by me and was a tremendous support to me during the late 1980s, when student protests over campus safety, partially directed at me, resulted in a sit-in in the president’s office and President Paul Pearson’s subsequent creation of a university commission on the status of women. Mary supported my membership on the commission, which ultimately issued 57 recommendations. These recommendations included the (re)establishment of a women’s center, which Mary was pivotal in opening in 1991 and I had the great privilege of directing starting in 1999. 

“After her retirement, Mary and I got together frequently either for lunch at Skyline Chili Uptown or for snacks at her Oxford home on Silvoor Lane,” Goettsch said. “I will be forever grateful that she saw potential in me. She was skilled at mentoring and bringing out the best.”

Evans, born in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in English literature. She took great pleasure in all living things, enjoying nature, hiking and vacationing in her beloved Maine.

Mark Cannon ’86, deputy executive director of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, interacted with Evans in his role as chief of staff of ASG while a student and, after he graduated, frequently visited with her on return trips to campus.

“Mary was sort of the personification of ‘Mother Miami’—super supportive of the institution, nurturing of the student leaders she mentored, warm-hearted, cheerful, and gracious with a gently persuasive way about her,” Cannon said.

Evans, a strong supporter of the Animal Friends Humane Society, a Butler County, Ohio, animal shelter, had an assortment of cats and dogs throughout her life. Her favorites were Maine Coon cats, on which she became an expert.

Actively involved in Rotary and other organizations, she was named Woman of the Year in Oxford in 1976 for her work, both professionally and as a volunteer.

“If you needed advice, she was there for you,” said Mike Thomas ’89, ASG president in 1988-1989, who runs his own consulting firm. “If you needed a foil to push against, she could be that, too. Mary was no pushover, though, and could be formidable if the situation required it. But she was always patient and deeply kind. My experience at Miami—and my life—would have been profoundly diminished if Mary hadn’t been a part of it. I already miss her terribly.”

Evans is survived by her sister, Betsy Evans, and preceded in death by her brother and sister-in-law, Marshall and Mary Ray Evans, and her dear friend of 38 years, Sue Summers ’66 MS ’71, administrator emerita of finance and business services at Miami.

Due to current restrictions, the funeral was private. The recorded service will be available for three months.

Donations in her memory can be made to the United Methodist Church, 14 N. Poplar St., Oxford, Ohio 45056 or Animal Friends Humane Society, 1820 Princeton Road., Hamilton, Ohio 45011. Rotarians are encouraged to remember her through donations to the Rotary Foundation