Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Johnny Evans said that he would be stepping down as dean and move to Brunswick, Georgia for the Spring semester where he will be hired as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for Georgia Coastal College.
“It is a rare opportunity. But it is bittersweet because ABAC is an amazing place with great faculty and students,” said Evans.
Following the announcement, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Jerry Baker asked Jordan Cofer current Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs if he would fill in the role momentarily while ABAC hired a new dean, to which he complied.
Evans arrived in 2013 from Lee University where he spent 13 years developing grants to funding the science program with the equipment needed. He was also a significant part of building project there. Evans acquired his tenure there and developed an interest in service relief and service learning. He led relief trips to Guatemala, Ghana, and West Africa, learning what it took to engage students in helping others.
After arriving at ABAC, Evans helped ABAC’s vision for a better science department grow. He became an essential part of the team, along with Tim Carpenter and Melvin Merrel, to design and build ABAC’s new science building. Altogether the project took one year to complete.
“Working with faculty, we have grown a strong biology program. That is because we have a strong and dedicated faculty working here,” said Evans.
Together with the faculty, Evans helped grow the science program and funds for further projects, drawing in more students interested in science. Evans served as the Dean for the school of math and sciences and later as the dean of arts and sciences when three schools consolidated.
Evans brought the disaster relief skills he garnered and helped create a culture of service relief. With Professor Allison Miller, Evans led a team of over a dozen students to help victims of a flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016. There, he worked closely with students preparing them for the next task: a second and grander relief trips. Students that volunteered to in the first trip helped as team leaders of a second trip consisting of over seven teams and one hundred faculty and students. The students established bonds with volunteers for the Cajun Army, a non-profit organization that was dedicated to bringing relief to people affected by the flood. In total, 58 houses were gutted in four days.
“I appreciated the emotion behind the trip. I loved that the affected homeowners could express their feelings to us and we could respond with empathy. That man [Evans] has helped me more than he will ever understand. I won’t ever forget either of those trips,” said Katy Summers, then a student volunteer and now ABAC alumna.
Summers even spent some time in graduate school going to North Carolina to help people affected by Hurricane Florence. Working with people in need changed the lives of many students and the culture on campus. Summers, like others, have stories which were impacted by the help of Evans.
Cofer says he has been working with Evans and learning the responsibilities of a dean. Before his current position
“The school of Arts and Sciences is in great shape, I just hope to help faculty continue to strengthen our processes,” said Cofer. Until ABAC hires a full-time dean, Cofer will be serving as interim dean.