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Jennifer Evans reflects on appointment to Board of Trustees

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Photo Courtesy of UNC Media Relations.

Jennifer Halsey Evans stood in the stands of Kenan Stadium when she had her "full circle moment."

She looked on as her eldest son Cort Halsey, a first-year tight end on the football team, ran through the tunnel and onto the gridiron. Seeing him don Carolina Blue inspired Evans to reflect on her love for the University as a past student, a volunteer and a parent.

Evans is now a member of the Board of Trustees. She was sworn in on Aug. 21 after being nominated by N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland, Rutherford). 

Perspective

Evans was 10 years old when Michael Jordan hit his winning shot in 1982 during UNC's national championship victory game.

The youngest of five siblings — who all attended UNC — Evans said she was always at the center of UNC news even before she attended the University herself.

A Morehead-Cain scholar, Evans graduated from UNC in 1994 and went straight into a job with Goldman Sachs in New York. Learning about investment banking within healthcare prompted her to pursue a California-based career in business.

Before moving back to Chapel Hill, Evans worked as an independent investor and helped lead Honors 334: Silicon Revolution, a Maymester course. Her involvement with the program granted her an adjunct faculty role, and she said she believes she is the only current trustee to have previously been on the faculty. 

"I'll bring that perspective: perspective as a parent and a faculty member to every meeting," she said. 

Appointment

Every two years, there are six members of the board who are either newly appointed or reappointed for a four-year term. Of those six, four are appointed by the Board of Governors, one is appointed by the N.C. Senate and one is appointed by the N.C. House.

Twelve trustees, in addition to the student body president, comprise the 13-member board.

When Evans was moving back to North Carolina three years ago, she said Moore reached out to her about becoming involved with the University.

During Evans' junior year of college, Moore was speaker of the UNC Student Congress and she served under him.

"He was a Republican and I was a Democrat," she said. "And we worked really well together." 

Evans is now a registered Republican. She said she considers herself a moderate and that California is not the same "politically charged environment" that exists in North Carolina. 

“I don’t think there was really any opposition to her taking the position,” N.C. Rep. Ray Pickett (R-Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga), co-chair of the Education and Universities committee within the House, said.

Evans said that although she understands why some faculty are concerned with political overreach from the General Assembly into UNC's governance, she said she sees the connection between the state and the University differently.

"In what world do we think the General Assembly wouldn't have the influence that it has over our budget and our University and our governance?" she said. "The General Assembly created the University."

David Boliek, chair of the BOT during the 2022-23 term, said he didn't hear "a single complaint or observation" about the legislature and their picks on the BOT when Democrats were in control of the legislature.

He said it's only because Republicans were put on the board that individuals had "some kind of problem" with political overreach. 

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Priorities

"Campus security is paramount," Evans said. 

She said the board was focused on campus safety well before the Aug. 28 shooting and the pointing of a gun at Alpine Bagel.

"You'll see this trustee group deeply, deeply committed to anything and everything we can do to make this campus safer and more secure," she said.

Campus safety initiatives will be further discussed in the Sept. 28 full BOT meeting, she said. 

Evans also identified faculty pay, retainment and morale as "pain points" within the University that she hopes to help improve.

"Our goal, our intent and our job is to make UNC the best university in the country and to have the value of your degree be as high as it can be," she said.

Evans said she hopes she can make the student experience as good and meaningful as it can be from curriculum and athletics to campus and student life. 

She said she thinks about helping create a substantive University experience for UNC students as a lifelong journey. 

@abbypenderr

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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