ST. GEORGE – After calling Dixie State College of Utah her home for the past 31 years, Dr. Donna Dillingham-Evans is stepping down as vice president of academics and will officially retire from the institution Thursday.
Dillingham-Evans came to DSC as a mathematics instructor in 1982, following stints as a research associate at Vanderbilt University and as a toxicologist in Southern California. After her first year at DSC, she had entertained an offer to work as a supervisory field chemist for Exxon Oil but turned it down and made St. George her permanent home.
“I really thought that my stopover at DSC would be just a brief interlude in my life,” Dillingham-Evans said. “Thirty-one years later, I still am not quite sure when it became my life.”
In addition to math, she taught classes in chemistry, along with science and math methods for DSC’s online elementary education program. She has also instructed at Southern Utah University and North Mojave Community College.
Dillingham-Evans is credited with establishing DSC’s Academic Support Center and was the director of Dixie’s federally funded Student Support Services program. Additionally, she was named founding chair of the mathematics department in 2001, a position she held until 2005, when she was named interim vice president of academics. Later that year, she was appointed to the position full-time by former DSC President Dr. Lee Caldwell.
During her tenure, Dillingham-Evans played a key role in DSC’s goal to attain university status, a goal that now stands just weeks away from completion. Through her leadership, DSC has added over 30 baccalaureate degrees over the past seven years, along with several other academic minor, two-year and certificate programs. The addition of new degrees, along with hiring of new faculty and support staff for those programs, were all part of the benchmarks DSC were charged to meet as the institution pursued university status.
“Donna has been absolutely invaluable to the university process,” DSC President Dr. Stephen D. Nadauld said. “She has wisdom, tenacity, patience; every asset anyone would need. She has my admiration, my absolute devotion to her goodness, thoughtfulness and kindness. We will miss Donna in many ways, large and small.”
Dillingham-Evans points out that in the end, it all comes back to that “Dixie Spirit,” everyone working together for the common goal of transforming DSC into a regional university. As she readies herself to close one chapter of her career in higher education, she revels in the fact that she was part of a once-in-a-lifetime event and appreciates all the hard work that made it happen.
“The Dixie Spirit fit nicely into my own philosophy, both personally and professionally,” Dillingham-Evans said. “In fact, there is a song (called We Are One in the Spirit) from those early years that best describes our efforts. The lyrics, ‘We will work with each other, we will work side by side, we will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride,’ I think best describe exactly what we accomplished together here at Dixie.”
Dillingham-Evans holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University, a Master’s degree in secondary, post-secondary and vocational education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics from Austin Peay State University. She has also studied German at the Goethe Institute in Ebesberg, Germany, and attended the University of Munich on a Rotary International fellowship.
She is married to Keith “Doc” Evans and they are the parents of five children, all of whom have graduated from DSC. The couple also has four grandchildren.
She will become the new executive director and dean at the Utah State University extension campus in Tooele this upcoming March.
“I value all the wonderful colleagues in every position at this institution and will miss each one immeasurably,” said Dillingham-Evans. “Thank you all for that opportunity to serve and for the influence each of you have had in my life.”