Evans Reflects on University Residences Experience, Purdue Connections

Photo of Doug Evans

Doug Evans (BS ME ’66) continues to stay connected to Purdue University following a long career in the automotive industry, during which he applied lessons learned from his days in University Residences.

Evans grew up on a small farm near Medaryville, Indiana, about 50 miles directly north of the West Lafayette campus. His ties to Purdue began at a young age. His father raised poultry for eggs and would host student field trips from the Purdue Veterinary School. Evans’ grandmother also served as a house mother on campus and his grandfather did plastering and other decorative work in the Purdue Memorial Union and other campus buildings.

When it came time to decide where to continue his education after high school, these ties and Evans’ interest in engineering made Purdue an obvious fit. At the time of Evans’ admission, any Indiana resident who applied was admitted to the university for one semester. If the student succeeded and earned acceptable grades, they could continue their studies.

Evans enrolled and was assigned to H3, now known as Wiley Hall. He says living on campus was a great decision and eased his transition to campus life.

“My first roommate was very helpful,” Evans says. “The RA, the cafeteria folks, the administrators of the hall and the students all made everyone feel welcome and it was easy to integrate into that process.”

Despite a rigorous program of study, Evans wanted to find an extracurricular activity to participate in – which led him to Excalibur Club, the hall club of H3.  

“I wanted to do some extracurricular activities beyond just the engineering academics although I must confess that, for me, the academics probably demanded over 100 percent of my time,” Evans says. “I liked the hall, I enjoyed the people and I decided I wanted to get involved and see how I might contribute and give back to the university, and to the hall specifically, in helping arrange events, do some of the administration for the students and help out where I could to make life even better for the students in the hall.”

One of the annual events Evans helped plan was a formal dinner dance for H3 residents, held in the Purdue Memorial Union ballrooms. In preparation for the event, Excalibur Club hosted an etiquette dinner, which taught participants the finer points of a formal dinner.

“I enjoyed the interface with the other officers and the other students in the halls,” Evans says. “I enjoyed the challenge of organizing and arranging for events and the teamwork. You learn that even though your ideas may be good ideas, they aren’t the only ideas. It was good to learn and recognize that others had good ideas and you had to work to help institute and engage them.”

Evans says he learned valuable lessons in teamwork, organization and planning from his time as hall club president, even when things didn’t go the way he wanted.  

“Sometimes, it didn’t quite go the way we planned and that was a learning experience,” Evans says. “Many times our failures or things that don’t go quite as well as we expect are a better learning experience than all of the successes.”

After graduation, Evans entered the work force with Chrysler Corporation, kicking off a career of more than 45 years in the automotive industry. The beginning of his career was spent in product design, product planning, manufacturing and general product management. Later, he spent time on several overseas assignments including those in Europe and China. He says he found that his hall club experience benefitted him throughout his career.

“The activity of the hall and really the process and interface with people translates very well to working on a team, evaluating ideas and prioritizing those ideas,” Evans says.

Over the course of his career, Evans also spent time at Baker & Company, Lacks Enterprises, Inc. and ADAC Automotive, all based in Michigan. During his career, he also spent time on the board of directors for several national and international organizations.

Evans now serves as president of the Purdue Alumni Club of San Diego. In addition to leading and participating in social activities with fellow Boilermakers, Evans works to arrange an annual scholarship golf classic that provides scholarships to Purdue students from San Diego County. Evans says he is proud to give back to the university and connect with fellow Purdue alumni. 

“I’m very grateful for Purdue accepting me in their program and I got a degree as a result of that experience,” Evans says. “That helped propel me to have a very successful career and provide for not only myself and my family, and I want to give back to Purdue as a result of that.”

Evans also often represents Purdue at college and career fairs at high schools in the San Diego area. While he fields a variety of questions, he says he tries to hone in on several important messages in his interactions with prospective Boilermakers.  

“Regardless of what program you’re going into, you’re going to work hard and you’re going to be academically challenged – and that’s what you should want to do at school,” Evans says. “I also tell them to take advantage of one or two extracurricular activities out of the thousand or more clubs that you can get involved in. There’s all kinds of things and the whole experience of Purdue – the academics, the clubs, the people on campus – is all very accessible and friendly.” 

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Elizabeth Hartley, Tammy Loew, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Elizabeth Hartley | Inquiries Contact: studentlifemarketing@purdue.edu