Howard Evans, the dedicated former dean of what is now known as the College of Professional and Global Education, died June 29 suddenly of a cardiac event. He was 72.
Evans began his tenure at Cal Poly Pomona in 2012 as the dean of the College of the Extended University (CEU), which underwent a name change in March 2022. The college offers professional development certificate programs, online courses and advanced degrees. During his tenure, Evans created cutting-edge programs that were self-supporting and generated nearly $120 million in revenue for the college.
“Working at CEU has been a wonderful experience, helping to extend CPP-quality educational opportunities beyond the campus boundaries, beyond our traditional student constituencies, and beyond the range of programs that can be funded by the state,” Evans said when he retired.
As executive director of academic resources, Lisa Rotunni worked with Evans during his entire tenure at Cal Poly Pomona and lauded his extraordinary success in increasing the size and scope of CPGE’s programs. Rotunni, who described Howard as a good friend and her favorite person to sit next to in meetings, said Evans was “deceptively intelligent” because he always wanted to see others shine rather than himself.
“He was always most proud of the programs that most helped students, like the one that focused on children of migrant farmworkers,” Rotunni said. “I think that is because he was also the kindest man you would ever want to meet. He also had a wonderful sense of humor. When he made a joke, it was always on himself, never at anyone else’s expense.”
Terrie Taylor, director of business operations for CPGE, came to Cal Poly Pomona just a week after Evans. She started as the college’s finance manager, but after seeing her potential to contribute more broadly for the college, Evans promoted her to her current position after eight months. Taylor praised Evans for his supportive and caring nature, as well as his focus on collaboration and ability to make everyone feel like they had a part in the college’s success.
“He was such a warm person,” she said. “His smile could make you forget you are having a bad day. He loved to laugh and always would bring humor into things. He wanted good things for everybody. He just had this wonderful, positive energy about him that helped college thrive under his leadership. I think it was contagious. When you meet someone that genuinely good hearted, it is hard not to want to jump on board of whatever the project or task was.”
Lisa Xue, the director of the college’s Global Education Institute, said that Evans recruited her to Cal Poly Pomona in 2014 and has always supported her efforts to grow Cal Poly Pomona’s reputation globally and forge new international partnerships.
“We shared a similar vision on international education,” Xue said. “His consistent and enthusiastic support moved forward international education and exchange at Cal Poly Pomona in marvelous new directions. Under Dean Evans’ great leadership, the international programs at Cal Poly Pomona achieved notable success in many areas.”
Before coming to Cal Poly Pomona, Evans served as the founding dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at National University in San Diego. He led the development and offering of seven bachelor’s and eight master’s programs for more than 1,200 students.
The Salt Lake City native worked for 22 years in the corporate world before academia. Evans held several senior engineering positions at IBM Corp. and was a technology executive at 3M Co. He previously served on advisory boards and committees for physics and chemical engineering at the University of Texas and the University of Colorado.
Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and chemical engineering science from Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering science from Caltech in Pasadena. He published more than 30 articles, gave more than 30 conference and university presentations and received four patents.
Michael Woo, former dean of the College of Environmental Design, worked together with Evans on launching a new Master of Interior Architecture degree program — a collaboration between Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA extension. Woo also connected with Evans on a personal level, describing his character as “unfailingly friendly and affable.” Woo lauded Evans’ dedication to his college and Cal Poly Pomona.
“Dean Evans was an indefatigable champion of Cal Poly Pomona’s self-supported programs for mid-career and international students,” Woo said. “I was always surprised to hear about his frequent work trips to Asian countries, serving as an ambassador for Cal Poly Pomona and building relationships with new corporate partners. But Dean Evans always handled the pressure with grace and aplomb.”
After retirement, he and his wife, Jeannie, moved to St. George, Utah, to be closer to family. The couple enjoyed traveling and spending time with family and friends. Evans, a lifetime active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was actively involved in his church.
Evans is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Mary Jean “Jeannie;” his five children: Ryan (Rebecca Petersen), Joel (Alisa Porritt), Laurie, Julie Ritter (James), and Melissa Oehring (Jared); and thirteen grandchildren: Tyler, Seth, Savannah, Alyssa, Andrew, Connor, Logan, Elizabeth, Lindsey, Justin, Sarah, Noah, and Johnny. He is also survived by his sisters: Karen, Diane, and Pamela; two sisters-in-law: Nadine and Debbie; and many wonderful nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Mildred Evans; brothers: Scott and Mark; and sisters: Marjorie and Laurie.
A funeral service for Evans will be held on Friday, July 15 at 10 a.m. at Metcalf Mortuary in St. George, Utah. The service will be livestreamed and available on the mortuary’s website for 90 days. Condolences to the family may be expressed via Metcalf Mortuary.