Home – that’s the first word that Barron Evans ’77 uses to describe The University of Olivet, despite more than four decades passing since his graduation. After his time as a student at OC ended, Barron used his education as a launch pad for an extremely successful career, working across the United States and globally in telecommunications, advertising, healthcare and more. While he’s now semi-retired, and consulting in customer experience change management, Barron continues to play an active role in his community and make a difference in the lives of others, including recently joining the The University of Olivet Alumni Association Board.
“The University of Olivet has long surpassed being about only academics – now representing a place about connection,” Barron explained. “I can age, I have evolved as a person, but I will always think of Olivet as part of a place I call home. The college has represented that for nearly 175 years now, and it continues to evolve, like any family. That’s what Olivet really is: a family unit.”
Today, Barron leverages his decades of combined experience as a change management consultant, tapping into his broad range of knowledge to help public, private and not-for-profit organizations evolve from their current state to a future, more optimized state. Simply put, Barron specializes in leading organizational shifts. But now, his desire to be closer to family after 10 career moves, and nearly 40 years, inspired a personal shift last year to Ann Arbor from Dallas. As Barron’s love, passion and appreciation for The University of Olivet has not faded since his time on campus, he was afforded the opportunity to join the Alumni Association Board, eager to contribute to the institution’s future.
Once a Comet
It was Barron’s positive experience on campus as a student that inspired him to stay connected with The University of Olivet through the decades. Hailing originally from Royal Oak and Bloomfield Hills, and attending a large high school, Barron wanted a small college experience with access to personalized education and a more intimate experience with other students. He received his Bachelor of Arts with a focus in the liberal arts, majoring in political science and English, explaining a desire to marry the ‘real world’ to his appreciation for the cultural arts. Part of that experience included a professional semester in Washington D.C., where he interned at the Population Crisis Committee. In addition, Barron minored in German, a choice contributing to his success later in life when his career took him to Europe, building on a summer during high school spent living in Germany. And while at Olivet, Barron was elected as National Secretary for the Federation of German Students.
“Since my time on campus, the friendships I developed with fellow students have followed me throughout my life,” Barron said. “I’m very fortunate to have a close-knit group of friends that share a common ethos of connectivity and a passion for keeping in touch; that’s very important to me. I’ve stayed in contact with them without regard to where our lives or careers have taken us. Every 10 years, we plan a reunion and it’s been awesome reuniting with that group. I’m excited to be working closely with Samantha Pearl ’00, director of alumni engagement, to find ways to extend opportunities to reconnect with more alumni – and the soulfulness that comes with that.”
While a student, many of Barron’s connections were built as a member of the Alpha Lambda Epsilon Greek society. The organization was founded in 1922 as a sorority solely admitting women, but later set out to break traditional stereotypes and serve as a space for all students to connect, while also enabling broader financial support. Alpha Lambda Epsilon officially began admitting men in 1975, making national history as the first co-educational literary/social society in the United States. Among the first men admitted to the organization, Barron then became the first male president of the society.
Always a Comet
“As one of the first male actives and the first male president of Alpha Lambda Epsilon, I learned a valuable life lesson – never put limits on yourself,” Barron emphasized. “It was one of those real world times to stand for something that mattered; that experience was one of the most pivotal from my time on campus. Forty years ago, we made a hugely radical decision, and when you fast forward and see how far the society has come, it provides incredible perspective. And what could be more reflective of our real world society today than that? Or more reflective of the The University of Olivet Compact?”
Barron detailed an experience while recently at Homecoming for his 40th class reunion in which he and two other 1970s Alpha E alumni, David Jackson ’78 and Stella (Nault) Swor ’77, popped into the Alpha E house for a quick visit to find a slew of the society’s current members bubbling with excitement. Recognizing Barron and his classmates from their composite pictures, they erupted with requests for pictures and autographs. After an energetic house tour and rock star treatment, the current and past members gathered to sing the fight song and alma mater on the front lawn. Barron says the experience reminded him and his fellow students why they chose to attend The University of Olivet in the first place: to have an intimate experience, and the extraordinary sense of welcome, support and strength that is everlasting on campus.
Connect. Engage. Ignite.
As a member of the Alumni Association Board, Barron hopes to contribute to the rich learning and emphasis on social engagement at The University of Olivet, and inspire other alumni to do the same. He’s only been on the board for a few short months, and has already made a point to integrate with the other members, working with Pam Heos ’77, board chair and a classmate of Barron’s, as well as members from the generational spectrum, including new council member and Alpha E alum, Branden Dyer ’14.
“My primary goal is to see the Alumni Association Board make a meaningful case for ‘why’ it exists,” Barron said. “We first need to define ‘what good looks like’ for the association – both behaviorally and functionally. We want to be a body of people that makes whatever future changes are to happen be both meaningful and sustainable. Further, I want to help strengthen the alumni network, finding ways for alumni to connect regardless of distance, graduation year or career field, i.e., innovating in their local community, or continuing lifelong learning – for themselves – and/or as mentors to new graduates/early careerists. The Alumni Board is comprised of a diverse group of individuals, skilled in multiple ways, and I’m confident we have the tools, talent and tenacity to make the Alumni Board a sustainable example of what The University of Olivet is all about: social responsibility.”
View the Events Calendar to learn more about upcoming alumni events and opportunities to connect with Comets of all generations. Contact Samantha Pearl ’00, director of alumni engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269.749.7644 to learn about the ways you can contribute to the The University of Olivet alumni community.