Rochelle Newton's "Diversity Chat" with W. Franklin Evans [video]

min read

In this "Diversity Chat" on March 17, 2021, Rochelle Newton talks with W. Franklin Evans, President and CEO of West Liberty University. Evans discusses working at HCBU and PWI institutions, the importance of the Chief Diversity Officer position, and the need for teachers to begin empowering students at the elementary school level.

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W. Franklin Evans
West Liberty University

Rochelle Newton
Assistant Divisional Chief Operating Officer
Duke Health Technology Solutions

Newton: Good afternoon.

Evans: Good afternoon.

Newton: How are you today?

Evans: I am doing well. Thank you.

Newton: Absolutely. Thank you so much. I appreciate you joining me in this chat. Will you please tell us your name?

Evans: Sure. I am W. Franklin Evans, currently the President of West Liberty University here in West Liberty, West Virginia.

Newton: Okay. West Virginia. I was wondering where it was. West Virginia. Thank you so much for telling me that. And will you share a little bit about yourself? People share anything from their careers, their work, their passions, their children, anything you want to share.

Evans: Well, I am relatively new to West Virginia. Having lived in the South and worked in the South at several different institutions. This is a new experience for me. It is the first predominantly white institution that I am working at full time. I've been in higher ed for over 25 years. I started out though in K-12 education. I am a graduate of the University of Georgia and Georgia State University. I mentioned I am a Georgian, so everywhere I go I still consider myself a Georgian, born, bread, raised the whole nine yards. And so I'm still trying to decide what it is I want to be. I had this idea that I was still wanting to be a judge. And that when Judge Judy retires, I can take over her role, but I think I'm a little bit too old. But I am a seasoned educator coming from a long line of educators. I'm a fourth generation college student. And that's hard, difficult for not just black people to say, but even for European Americans. So I'm proud of the heritage, proud of my forefathers and grandparents and my own parents who have allowed me to be at this point in my career.

Newton: Well, thank you so much for sharing that. So Georgia born, Georgia bred, Georgia educated, huh? And you're a Georgian at heart, huh?

Evans: Definitely. Definitely.

Newton: Absolutely. So I believe your cousin, Ray Charles said something about that. Didn't he?

Evans: But look, Georgia is still in my mind no matter what. Although I'm here in West Virginia, it's on my mind. Yes.

Newton: Well, thank you so much. Georgia is one of those very nice states that I've visited a few times and I will say I don't miss it, because Atlanta traffic is like, ooh, nightmarish.

Evans: I understand. Believe you me, I spent initially much of my professional career there in Atlanta. Still miss it, but I don't miss the traffic.

Newton: There you go. I appreciate that very much. So tell us what is it that you do now?

Evans: So I am president of West Liberty University. West Liberty University is the oldest public institution in West Virginia. It's 183 years old, and I am his first president of color.

Newton: Congratulations. That's a lot to be said.

Evans: Thank you.

Newton: So I know there's some notables from West Virginia. I think Steve Harvey is from West Virginia.

Evans: T.D Jakes.

Newton: T.D Jakes, Randy Moss.

Evans: Yes.

Newton: You've got a few. So what makes West Virginia a place where black people can survive and do well? What is it about West Virginia?

Evans: Well, I'm new to West Virginia and so that's one of those things that I too need to discover. But the interesting thing, West Virginia currently has two HBCUs here. There's one at West Virginia State University, as well as Bluefield State. And a lot of people are surprised, especially with Bluefield State is an HBCU, but it is predominantly white. And it seems as though West Virginia State is certainly headed that way. But based on my history, West Virginia was certainly one of those states that succeeded from the union, I mean, from the Confederacy. And so that in itself, I guess lends some credence that this was a place that had some type of reverence and appreciation for diversity, caring about African-Americans. But West Virginia is still one of those that I think of it as the mining state. That this was the place where there were jobs and people were certainly miners and everything, and black people at that. But I will tell you that it is now a state where many of the African-Americans have gone someplace else. They left, I'm in the Northwestern part of the state in the tri-state area, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. We're 40 miles from Pittsburgh. And so I do have people that live in those areas and actually come and work here at the university. So I know that West Virginia is very different. It's a different culture, but one of the things I'm proud of, that West Virginia was leading the nation in people getting the COVID vaccination. That we had a system in place that has been working and people across the nation have applauded us for such.

Newton: Excellent. That's wonderful to hear. So how did the pandemic affect your university and your faculty and your students?

Evans: So you know, coming from South Carolina, prior to coming here to West Liberty, I was at Voorhees College, an HBCU. And coming here to West Virginia, I will say that the pandemic has certainly had an effect, but we are celebrating the fact that this spring, spring 2021, we have more students than we did spring of 2020.

Newton: Wow.

Evans: And so I know it's a rarity, but we did have an increase. But the good thing about West Liberty, when I came in the fall, they had students who were here. That they implemented a program to have students on campus. They certainly reduced the number of students in the residence halls. And so they've got a testing protocol that's in place, of course we're wearing masks, and the institution shifted to remote instruction. Although we do have students who are physically on campus, we do have professors who are actually teaching some face to face, but they limit the number of students who actually are physically in the class. And so this spring is just a continuation of what was done last semester, and we appear to be doing it well, we did receive some federal dollars to help, you know, the CARES Act and even the most recent allocation. But I will tell you that there were some advantages of being an HBCU, in that you got the regular amount of dollars, plus you got some additional dollars. And then there were philanthropists out there who were willing to finally lend a hand and support our HBCUs. So I do miss that aspect here at West Liberty University.

Newton: Yeah. That makes sense. I have three of my degrees from an HBCU from North Carolina central and I support my university financially. Where I got my doctorate degree, that's a whole other matter, because I think that, you know, like, and maybe this is unique to me, but I was a nontraditional student. I didn't get my first college degree until I was 47 years old.

Evans: Wow. That was just what two years ago?

Newton: Couple of hours ago.

Evans: Definitely. Definitely.

Newton: Yes, and it was really a strange thing because I had, I started out in computing back in the day when there were these montrosity machines and huge air conditioned rooms or air cooled rooms and all that stuff. So there was no need to go to college. But you know, at some point I thought, well, let me see what this college thing is about since I work in higher education, I want to know how it works. So let me see what this is about. And I got my first two degrees in two and a half years with two and a half degrees. And then I went back and I got my master's degree. And then I went back to work again, and then I didn't get my doctorate degree until 2016. But I think that what my experience is, is that it might be unique to me because I am old. But you know, being at an HBCU, I felt at home, I felt like I belonged. I saw people that looked like me. I saw people who had my struggles, since you talked about being a fourth generation college students. I was there, you know, first or second in my family to go to college. You know, so I had people that were there, like me who were struggling with the same struggles I had, you know, when I went to my PWI, I mean, I had wonderful, my dissertation chair was actually a black woman, phenomenal, phenomenal woman. She's a lawyer, PhD. She had more D's behind her name than anybody I've ever met. I mean, brilliant, brilliant woman. And she was just wonderful support system. But other than her, I kind of felt like I was a cog in the wheel, like I was seven digits and that's all that mattered to me. So how do universities overcome that for black and brown students? How do you make us get that sense of home that we felt, especially historically black college, and then end up at a PWI. How do you transition so that black and brown students feel like they matter, and that they're not just a number in the university system?

Evans: Well, I think you've hit the nail on its head. Having attended a PWI, it was quite an experience. But as I grew up though, I grew up in being in the gifted program and honors program where I was one of, if not the only African-American face, one of just two. And so when I went to the University of Georgia, that was not the cultural experience, a shock for me. What was the shock was that you're just a number. You know, and I was a science major. And so in my biology class, I was one of 450. In my lab class, one of 100, excuse me, 450 lab class, one of 150. My mom who went to the HBCU reminded me, when you go to class, make sure the professor knows you on day one. So after that lecture, I got out and I'm in a line of about 20 students waiting to say something to the professor. And then when I get there, I said, "Hi, I'm W. Franklin Evans." And he's like, "Okay." "I just wanted you to know who I am." "Okay." They never called the roll. So whether you came or not it did not matter, when we took the exam, they posted the scores by your social security number. So you really were a number. My whole four years at the University of Georgia, I had one black professor and that was for an elective. And so now that I'm... And so I agree with you about our HBCs. It's more like family. You see people that look like you. There is that close knit bond that's there. And I think that we look out for one another, the involvement, the oversight is intentional. So you'll have someone come to your room and knock on the door and say, I haven't seen you, where's your work? But at the PWIs it's very different. And so one of the things that I'm hoping for, of course, we only have 3% of blacks here on our campus of students, but I'm wanting people to see me as one of those engaging presidents that I do care about students. I think that we have to be intentional in our delivery of services. One of things, when I heard, when I interviewed here is that on the weekends, a lot of students with cars, they leave and go home. And so even with the dining facility, it's not one to accommodate students that are left on campus. And I was told, well, we don't have that many students that stay here on the weekend, only about 600. 600?

Newton: That's a lot.

Evans: I said, that is a lot. And so why would we not be there to be of support? So changing the hours, but even having some type of bus transportation to take students to the mall, to the area, to you know, go grocery shopping, those kinds of things. And so, and if we're talking about growing our international population, again, this is a group of students that we got to cater to. And so I'm very cognizant about that. One of the things that I'm pushing and we're advertising, they just closed a special assistant to the president for diversity equity and inclusion. I think it's important that that's something that we highlight that we focus upon, because of the various issues. And we talk about being a diverse culture, a United States. And so we have to be intentional with those kinds of things and know that people are different. Everybody's not like us. And we got to have an acceptance and appreciation and an understanding of others. And so I had one of our African-American students who interviewed me on the radio and she said my coming here was an Obama moment for her. And I said, what do you mean? And she said, I was in the third grade when President Obama got elected, and I saw my parents just overjoyed and they were crying and shedding tears. She said, when I heard that you were going to be our next president, she said it was an Obama moment for me, because I started shedding tears thinking, oh my God, I never thought we would have a black president here. And so it was just surreal for me to hear this young person say that. And so I think my presence here is important, not just for our black students, but for all students to see me in this role and to know that I'm highly accomplished and that I'm competent and I've got a track record of leadership. So this wasn't my first Christmas. And so I think that's important for everybody to know.

Newton: Yeah, I think that's very, very important. I do want to say something to you and it's just my opinion. You can do with it, what you will. But I hope when you hire your diversity officer or whatever that role is, that you empower that person to act upon the role, because what typically happens with a lot of universities and I don't care what color the university is. Typically they hire diversity officer and that person becomes a figure head. And so people get frustrated when they go to that person with an issue and that person can't act on it. They've got to go to committee. They've got to go ask the president. They've got to ask the provost and got to go talk to all these people before they can act on it. And you know, a lot of times putting that person in place does more damage to the person that you hire for that role and to the university because you don't get a note that you are really interested in an inclusion, you know, that you aren't really interested in black and brown people. You just put this figurehead in place and not empower that person to act upon whatever the issue is. So if somebody comes to you with a Title IX issue, they can act on it. Someone comes to you with a sexual harassment issue, they come to you with a racial issue, you can act on it as opposed to, well, they've got to go ask somebody else, they got to go have a committee. They got to take notes. And you know, about three years from now, they may get back to it or something, you know, that's-

Evans: No. I agree with you. And so I have it as a cabinet position. I have, and I was always afraid in my career, moving up through the ranks. I did not want to be in that kind of position because I know that it's a fancy title with very little authority. And so I don't want my position, this position I've created to be that way. I thought about it being chief of staff who handled that, but it is special assistant, but no, this person has authority. I've got other units that are reporting to this person and that this person is also serving as the board of trustees, board of governor's liaison. And so it's going to be a visible role, but it's going to be somebody who is empowered to make some changes that make a difference.

Newton: That's wonderful. And so then how do you address the issue of faculty? 'Cause a lot of universities struggle with, you know, so when it comes to technology, and this is where my wheelhouse is in the issue of technology, especially older faculty they're not necessarily interested in technology. They want to stand in front of a room and do the Socratic method and the lecture and all that. And then you've got the other people that are very much interested in technology. And so you have this warring of things where your students are technical natives, and you've got your faculty that are not, and they're in conflict with each other. And then there's the difference in air, because if you have a university where the faculty are predominantly white and in some cases predominantly white male, they don't always... I'll give you an example of something that I heard in one of my classes. So there was a professor that was teaching and he used the N word so many times in his lecture, cause he justified it by saying he was talking about slavery and that's how they referred it to the black people back then. And when that issue was raised with the administration, nothing came of it. You know, and to all fairness to him, I don't think he was intentionally being racist. I think he was insisting because he didn't know or appreciate the audience that he had. So how do you overcome that?

Evans: I think you say that again, insensitive. Sometimes people have a lack of knowledge, but when you know better, you ought to do better. And we have a responsibility to point some things out. You just can't sit utterly by and quiet and be afraid to say something. If it's wrong, if it's not appropriate, somebody has got to sound the alarm. And I'm one of those alarm sounders, always have been. And so my role here, I've always considered myself a teaching administrator, that I try to model and demonstrate those kinds of behaviors that I want other people to do, to follow. And so a part of it is helping people, even those who report to me to be better leaders, much more sensitive, much more in tune. And sometimes it's not just enough to sympathize. You've got to empathize, you've got to put yourself in the role. This is a whole new time. And even as a black educated person, there are so many things I don't know. I don't what it's like to be a first generation. I don't know what it's like to be just dependent on Pell. And when you get your Pell dollars, you're having to send it back home to help take care. And so I've shared with other colleagues that we've got to go beyond what we've experienced, what we're familiar with, and really try to relate to the students. And so we've got professors who have no idea this new cadre of students that were educated. And so I'm saying to them, take off your thinking hats and all that kind of stuff, and allow yourselves to really absorb and to be a part of what's happening around you. So you're going to have to do things differently, think differently, engage with students differently that you're almost like a tabula rasa, where you want to soak up information and learn, because only then are you going to be able to reach this generation. And so for me, it's going to be critical that we seek to diversify our faculty and staff. It's not just enough to put an announcement out when you have a job opening and hope that the masses are going to come. We have to be intentional with this as well. So why not make sure we send this, and we reach out to some HBCUs like Howard or to Hampton or to Northwest State or to North Carolina Central University.

Newton: I was getting ready to say, North Carolina Central first, but that's at

Evans: So that we do that because they are producing graduates all the time who would be phenomenal if they knew about it, if they knew about it. And so for me-

Newton: Or if it was welcoming.

Evans: Pardon.

Newton: Or if it was welcoming, because you don't want to end up, so you got that 90 day probation window or whatever your contract window is. And then you find out that this is not the right place for you because you know, somebody is putting a KKK stand and you're hurt or something, you know.

Evans: Oh yes. Oh yes. You're absolutely right. You're Absolutely right. And so you know, I'm not naive enough to think that because I'm here, that everything is just going to be a bed of roses, you know. And so that if and when something happens, it won't catch me off guard. I'm just saying, oh, it took them this long to do that. But that is one of the things I'll tell you of going to a PWI that helped me in that sometimes our HBCUs we can be enabling in that we can provide so much assistance that we don't do a good enough job of preparing our students to really compete once they get outside the confines of our HBCUs. But out of PWI, I learned it up. it's not enough just to be good at, you got to be better.

Newton: Better than.

Evans: And even then you have stuff taken away from you.

Newton: Absolutely.

Evans: And so this whole survival business and how to play the game, oh, I learned from the best. So I know how to be competitive. And so I'm expecting the unexpected.

Newton: Yeah. I will tell you, so I have a friend of mine who she graduated from a T14, smart, smart woman, smart, brilliant. Her work is in our healthcare and environmental justice. And she wrote a letter to me. She said, I just want to share with you how I felt. And I cried when I read it, because she said, as a black alum, a black faculty, you know, a merit-based scholar, she said that I felt like I didn't belong here. And she said, even today as a faculty, I don't feel like I belong. She went back to her T14 school. And I think that that's one of the interesting things that you know, I do think that sometimes historically black colleges can put braces on us. But I mean, I also think that they give us the freedom to try, to dip our feet and other toes without punishing us for that. So if you go into the typical university track, if you're going to be a science major and you take a few humanities classes, sometimes people assume that that's the track you should belong on. And you ended up in that track, especially for black boys, and they end up in these tracks, because they're just trying to find their way. Whereas historically, black colleges allow you to dip your toes in various pools to see which is the water that's right for you without aligning you to a specific area. But I have a question for you. I only have two questions for you. The first question is pay. And I'm going to talk about you, but not in the as a black president. Do you know, or do you feel like you are paid comparable to your white presidents from other type universities or other universities who do what you guys do? Do you feel that you had no concern about that when you came?

Evans: Well, I had concern about it. And so I know I'm at a state institution and so those salaries and stuff become public. So I know where I stand, it's West Virginia and so it's not like I'm getting a million dollars, but I am in the same comparable to my colleagues based on experience and stuff. And so yes, I am.

Newton: And that's very helpful to know, because a lot of black leaders I've asked, have questioned that, you know, where their pay is at. And I know as a black woman, I can tell you horror stories about my skill and my education and my white male counterparts that I am still paid less. I am less likely to be promoted. You know, if I'm not on the straight arrow, I'm the angry black woman and all these other names that people can call me because of that. And so it's very important that that is something that you've achieved. And you will advocate for that as you go forward, that you will see that people are paid equitably, regardless of-

Evans: Most definitely. Yeah, yeah.

Newton: Okay. And then my other question is this. And this is a question that, you know, you take as much time as you need to answer it. But in a university setting where the feeder for the university is elementary education. So K-12, right? So K-12 comes through there. And so you've got a certain number of students who are in K-12, who are marginalized simply for being in that school, especially if they're either in a low income school section, a disadvantaged section, or even if they're in an elite section and they're the only ones, or they're one of few. The struggle to get there. So you mentioned that you were academically gifted. I was too, but that literally means very little in the grand scheme of things when you sit down and look at it. So when you're getting in, you're applying, you've got all these credentials and stuff, and then once you're in all that disappears. So how is it that the feeder systems can do better to make higher education more successful? So your completion rates are better for people, for black and brown people, for women, that women are encouraged and black and brown people are encouraged to go into science and other fields where they can really make change. Because in my area, I find it just like you said, I am the only person that looks like me often. I am also the only person in conferences and meetings and stuff. And I'm sitting here thinking, well, are we still in the seventies? So how do you think elementary education can improve that track for higher education?

Evans: And it's interesting that you said elementary education as opposed to secondary. So I mentioned to you that I was in K-12. I was a classroom teacher, a department chair, an assistant principal, and a principal before moving into higher ed. But I do think that if even in elementary school, that seed has to be planted and cultivated so that students can believe that they can do anything that they want to. The little girls are just as smart as little boys, that little girls can do math and do experiments, but little boys can also write poems and do those kinds of things. And so we can't put those kind of labels on students. And I think that we need teachers who are committed to students and not just to a job. That teachers and counselors who exposes students to opportunities and telling them upfront, you can go to college. You can be a judge. You can be a medical doctor. You can be an astronaut. As opposed to someone say a little black kid saying, I want to rap. Oh yeah, yeah. And that teacher thinking that's all that student can do. Yeah, you can be a rapper while you're also a surgeon. You can be a dancer as you are a politician. And so I think our elementary school teachers have got to be much more caring, much more compassionate, much more empowering so that even at an early age, we start telling children about what they can be. We start promoting them. You know, I never had a problem with self-esteem. And I tell people that for me, I've always believed in myself because as a youngster I had people in my community who told me you're smart. Oh boy, you can speak. And so they told me those things and I believed it. And so anytime there was some negativity where I had a professor who might, oh, no, you may think that, but I know I'm better because I've been told that. I've been told I'm a winner. And so a lot of kids don't have that. And our schools don't do it. When I was in K-12, I made it my business every day, every student in my class had some type of interaction with me, every day. Not just the kids who you teach to the team, so it wasn't optional. And if nothing, but to say, you know what, Newton, I love that outfit you're wearing. Girl, you look pretty today. Only to say that. And as much as I chastise them and been try to correct them, the other side was to be encouraging, to be motivating and to watch these kids who didn't think they could do science, do science. To watch these kids. And I'll share this story and I'll be through. I taught gifted students and advanced placement students. But my department chairman gave me a class of the low performing students, students who were in the survey class, who were always in trouble. Students who, you know, disruptive. You know, the people just pass them long, as long as they kept quiet. Well, for me, I couldn't do that. I had the same expectation for those students, that you're going to learn science, that you're going to achieve like I did with the others. And so failing was not an option. And so I drilled that into them that you're just as good you've got to... And that my success was attached to your success. And if you don't do good, I'm not doing good as a teacher. And I taught them be to be competitive. And so I mentioned that because we had this competition in the school, the science competition, password, where there was science words and just like the password game that you know... But we were doing it with science words and my students, ninth grade students, I had a ninth grade class won and we competed, I guess our chemistry advanced placement chemistry class. And so in the finals here, my survey class, the dummies, as people said, the disruptors, you know, here they are competing. And I'm saying, and again, in my heart thinking we've done well just to get here. And I'm thinking they're not, they couldn't possibly, but I wanted them to know, I believe in you, you're just as good. And do you know, my kids ended up winning this competition. And it was funny because there were words like, you know, acid and base And though, you know, sodium that my kids were just using vernacular, salt, and they do their sodium. Look, little things like that, that they were doing because that's how... And when they won, oh my God... You know, parents who never came to the school came to see this. I mean, as I tell this, the chills come over my body now, because again, it was that I believed in them. I told them they could and they did. They didn't want to disappoint me. And so the bragging rights they got at this high school, which at that time was the largest one in the Atlanta metropolitan area. And so my kids and my department chair came back and said, and can you believe that you didn't want to teach these kids? You didn't think you could relate, but you see how you had the expectation that they will... And I did. And so back to your original question, we've got to have teachers that expect greatness out of our students. We've got to have teachers that motivate and encourage, and I've got to say this to you. It's not always the teacher that looks like us. You know, when I talk about black history and how it just shouldn't be a month, that all during the year, we need to be talking about black history and the contributions that people of color made. It's often teachers in the school who went to HBCUs who think, oh, that's a bunch of mess. And so got white teachers who I guess, out of guilt, who feel the need to have to teach or have those lessons, when our very own don't, when our very own who attended HBCUs don't even push for our students to go to HBCUs. Some of them, not even to college. And I'm thinking, how could you wear that Fisk shirt? How could you wear that Spelman shirt? How could you wear that North Carolina A&T and you're not even promoting your own institutions? And so it's a problem that's systemic that we've got to work on. But certainly those who are in the K-12 sector, in elementary school, we need folks there who are instilling those kinds of values in our young people.

Newton: Absolutely. I'm going to tell you a story to amplify what you just said. So I'm also a proponent of meeting people where they are. So I teach adult literacy. And one of the assignments that we were giving was "The Canterbury Tales".

Evans: Yes.

Newton: Do you remember "The Canterbury Tales"?

Evans: I do.

Newton: Lord, have mercy. Anyway, if you could imagine a group of men from say age 19 to about 45 in "The Canterbury Tales". So you know, the first thing I get in the class is people throwing the books back at me, the paper back at me, you know, like why in hell are you trying to teach us this? And I said it's because it's a story. It's just a story of a journey. Nope. They didn't want no parts of it. So I came home and I thought about that for a little while, and I thought about, so I love "The Canterbury Tales" cause I've read it. Of course you know I was a nontraditional student. So it made sense to me, but you know, I can't understand how young people wouldn't be enthused about this. So what I did is I turned every last one of the characters in "The Canterbury Tales" to either a sports or an actor, one or the other. So for example, the Wife of Bath was the player that used to play for Houston. I can't think of his name right now. But he wore very colorful outfits. And he was very colorful. And believe it or not, they got it. And they got it all. And they got the theory behind the story, you know. And I think that one of the things in what you said about education, you know, I know that each educational system structures, you can only teach it. There's so many ways, but sometimes you have to meet people where they are. So you teaching them "The Canterbury Tales" and they're telling you, "I ain't trying to hear this." Find a way to make "The Canterbury Tales" the drama. You don't have to change the lesson or anything, but you could change the characters.

Evans: You can, yes.

Newton: So I think that's important. But I think your point, other point too, you know, I mean, like I wear a maroon and gray everywhere I go. That's my city, I've rep my central, North Carolina Central every day, because they gave me something, a zest to learn, a zest to be more. And no matter how many times I was kicked by someone who didn't look like me, I held onto my central band. I'm not stupid. I am smart. I graduated at the top of my class at 45 years old . Number one, top of my class, I don't know how many students, there was a lot of them, you know, I still graduated. I know I'm not dumb. I know I'm smart. I know I can. So every time somebody tells me I can't and those people you talked about in elementary, I can't tell them, my mum told me I was going to be pregnant and a wife in the kitchen cooking, that's what I was supposed to grow up and do. No, and so we need who believe in us. We need people who champion us. We need people who stand for us and say, Hey, you can do this. So I think that's a very important point. And I'm glad that that's where you see this, because I think that it's important that we understand that elementary education owe some allegiance to higher ed-

Evans: It does. It does.

Newton: Because, well, if students are successful, something worked well in elementary education. It just fed on, in higher education. If not, it failed in elementary education. And I consider all K-12 elementary education.

Evans: You know, the research is so showing particularly among black males, that by third grade, at that point, they're turned on the education or they're not. And from that point on it might be downhill for them. And so it's so important that early on you have the best teachers exposing these students, keeping them motivated. And I have a little boy that's four years old and he loves school. And he loves it. He loves school, loves being there. And I try to be supportive of him, and talk about how important school is and doing well. And I think that we've got to have educators to do that.

Newton: Absolutely. I am so grateful for this talk. We have four minutes. I'm leaving the remainder of the time to you. Please, anything you wish to say that we didn't cover or anything else you'd want to share with us?

Evans: You know, I'm still one of those lifelong learners, still learning, still trying to better myself. And whenever I get to the point that I think I know everything, it's time to go home. It really is. I am encouraged. I really am, when I see some of the stuff that's going on, some of our young people that's coming into to the profession, choosing to do it, not falling back on it. It's encouraging. It really is. Here at the university I'm encouraged that my presence here is going to make a difference, it really is. As I said, growing up that failure was not an option. It isn't here and like everywhere else I've been, I've left the institution much better than I found it. And I'm hoping that that will still be the case.

Newton: That's pretty powerful right there, making it better than it was when you got there. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to chat with me. As soon as this video converts, I will send you a link, please review it and let me know if it's good, and if I may upload it. I appreciate that so much.

Evans: I look forward to it. Thank you so much.

Newton: Thank you, W. Evans.

Evans: Take care. All right, bye now.