University of Wisconsin Housing Director Paul Evans is retiring this May after 36 years with the University.
Evans began college with the intent of become a dentist, according to a university statement. His love for UW led him to ultimately deciding to work in university housing.
“I would not have had this career if I had not lived in a residence hall my first year,” Evans said. “By luck, I lived in a residence hall and that transformed what I wanted to do for a living. Plus I liked being on campus. Any job I had, I wanted to be at a university.”
Evans has seen some major events in housing history since he took a job with the department in 1978. He oversaw UW Housing’s Master Building and Renewal Plan in the 1980’s, as well as the change in drinking age from 18 to 21.
These events led to serious change in how UW Housing operated.
“When the drinking age was 18, you could use your dining money to buy beer at the dining hall,” Evans said. “We would have beer at concerts and things like that in the event centers. As the drinking age changed to 19 became harder to police underage drinking in the dorms. It really dramatically changed how we did programs.”
Over his time at UW, Evans said he had seen “too many crazy things” in housing to even remember all of them.
Evans noted that not only were students to blame for dorm antics, but their parents were as well.
“I remember one year when students were moving in during August, we had a dad trying to move in a gas grill into the dorm,” Evans said. “What are you going to do with a gas grill indoors?”
Never being one to sit still in college, Evans wanted to work in an environment where there was a lot of variety.
He said UW Housing was the “perfect fit” for his lifelong career because of the many opportunities UW presented for him.
“There are a lot of things you got to do,” Evans said. “I got to learn about dining, building buildings, childcare…There was so much variety that you were always stimulated.”
As Evans leaves UW for his retirement, he hopes Housing continues to connect academics and living spaces like residence halls.
Evans also said he wants UW to finish the Master Plan, particularly the Witte and Sellery hall renewal projects.
“I am hoping that students continue to realize [residence halls] are a great place to start their college career,” Evans said. “This is a great place to make your connections, and I’m hoping that students even consider getting more involved with contributing to leadership positions in residence halls.”