Southern Vermont College installs David Rees Evans as new president

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BENNINGTON — The private, liberal arts college of Southern Vermont (SVC) inaugurated its ninth president on Friday, officially welcoming David Rees Evans.

In the address titled "The Power of Choice: Making a Difference," Evans elaborated on the demeanor behind privilege and how fortunate he is to be where he is in life now.

"It is impossible to overstate how much I've learned from Ursula and her family about the challenges of growing up without the economic advantages I had. And of going to college without the family background, and the confidence flowing from it, that enabled me to take access and success for granted," Evans said.

Evans, his wife Ursula McCarty, and their many pets moved to Vermont last winter from Iowa. Since 2008, Evans served as the vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Buena Vista University.

To officially inaugurate Evans, McCarty presented him with a chain-of-office pendant, linked back to the Middle Ages. The medallion is engraved with the college seal and was a gift from the Pickard and Sirvis families, according to the ceremony program.

The ninth president was selected out of over 100 applicants, according to a press release from SVC.

One of the president's first undertakings at the college was to redefine its mission, in which he reached out to the community first, Sarah Sanfilippo, chair of staff association said.

The mission reads: Southern Vermont College affirms a deep belief in the potential of every individual. We embrace diversity in all its forms, fostering excellence and personal responsibility in each member of our community. Grounded in the liberal arts, our programs prepare students to look beyond boundaries, to engage their communities, and to excel in their professional endeavors.

"In the short time David has been here, he's already made a difference," Sarah Bolton, dean of Williams College said.

Evans can now be seen strutting around town in an SVC athletics jacket embroidered with the number nine on the back after assuming his new position. Student athletes presented their president with the gift at the ceremony.

The Mount Anthony Union High School students and SVC choir provided the ceremony with "Seasons of Love" by Jonathan Larson (1960-1996), accompanied by Michelle Labieniec Despard on the piano. Despard also played with her husband Eric, SVC choir director, and Samantha Damon in performing "Fragile" by Gordon Sumner (1951).

Evans is originally from Los Angeles, and received English degrees from Pomona College (B.A.), and the University of Virginia (M.A. and Ph.D.). His published works of literature pertain to areas of Early Modern English literature and culture, specifically travel literature and aristocratic and genteel identity, according to the SVC press release.

He concluded his speech by formulating goals for the college that consist of increasing enrollment, reconnect with alumni base, financial empowerment and spread awareness locally, regionally and nationally to the college's successes.

"We seek students to become the best versions of themselves," Evans said. "My core aspiration is that the college, likewise, become the best version of itself."


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