Dan Evans Oral History Interview


Dan Evans Oral History Interview
9 August 2018
Dan Evans
Barbara Leigh Smith
extracted text
Daniel Evans
Interviewed by Barbara Leigh Smith
The Evergreen State College oral history project
August 9, 2018
Smith: Okay.
Evans: It was a time of change. The protests were growing each passing year, mostly against the war in
Vietnam, and increasingly pro-environment, and a continuing effort on civil rights. All of these things
were happening at once.
It was pretty obvious, shortly after I became Governor, that one of the biggest challenges we
faced was education, particularly space. The war babies were just entering school and the very first
thing we faced was, how do we build school buildings enough to handle this mob of young kids coming
along? It was only about two years after that that we realized that they were already coming through
the early grades and entering high school that we had to start thinking about post-high school
education. So I really focused on it—in fact, we brought in a national group of experts to give us some
ideas on higher education, and both in terms of where and how and what kind. It was fairly broadly
The first thing that they found, which I already knew pretty much, was that all of the growth in
Washington was in Western Washington, but most of the higher education institutions were in Eastern
Washington. We had five then, and three of them were in Eastern Washington. Only Western
Washington University—or College, as it was known then—and the UW were in Western Washington.
The biggest problem area was all of Southwest Washington.
Smith: Did that include Seattle as well, or was it just more the gap in Southwest?
Evans: The first thing we did was have them just look at the whole state. The more specific question
was, where should sixth institution be located? Because we were already involved in expanding very
substantially the existing schools, including the UW.
They did it in a very interesting way because every community, from Arlington south to
Vancouver, was interested in the new college wherever it was going to be. They all figured that that’s
somewhere along I-5. The outfit that was doing the analysis created a series of criteria; that these are
the elements that we will depend upon to make the decision. Before they even started analyzing, they

went to every community that had expressed an interest and said, “Here are the criteria we’re going to
use. Are they okay for you?” That led to a little modification, but finally, every single one of the
interested communities said, “Yes” to the criteria.
Smith: What a surprise!
Evans: That turned out to be very valuable later on, because they completed their efforts and they said,
“You should build the next institution within 10 miles of the State Capital.” That brought everybody out
that had been eliminated, but the experts just said, “Look, you agreed to the criteria. Here’s what the
criteria led to.” That really almost eliminated opposition, which was very helpful.
Smith: So the criteria must have included population density.
Evans: Yeah, and the unmet needs. There’s a whole series of things in there that obviously turned out
to be pretty effective, both in terms of their selected location, which I thought was really pretty good,
but also just because it eliminated many of the problems.
That was just the beginning, however, because before I went to the Legislature, I talked to the
chairs of the two higher education committees in the House and the Senate to let them know what we
were going to do. They were already pretty much aware of the need. The chair in the House was Marge
Lynch from Yakima, who was a superb person. She ended up [going] to Washington, D.C. later on and
became Deputy Secretary of H.E.W., so she really did very well. And Gordon Sandison from Port Angeles
was chairman in the Senate.
I got the two of them together and we talked about needs and the location, which they were
fine with. They thought that was just great. But we all agreed that we didn’t want something that was
just like all of the other institutions; that this was the time to try something new and different. That was
the time when we were seeing the growth of alternative education around the country. So we started
out with the view of doing something different. When you have the two parties—one was a Democrat
and one was a Republican in the Senate and the House, and both of them very prominent in their
caucuses—that we wanted to do something different, the Legislature went along.
Smith: Unusual. [laughter]
Evans: Yeah, unusual. The best part was when the bill was finally passed, it was passed to hire—I think
it was 20, but something close to that—20 faculty, a president. And they said in the legislation, “Give
them a year to invent a new college.” So, there was clear legislative intent for it to be different. That
was the very beginning. We went from there.


Smith: Wow. Did they have any sense of what “different” meant?
Evans: Probably not in detail, but I think by the time they passed the bill, they had a very clear idea of
what it could be or what it might be, because they did a lot of studies of other institutions around the
country. It was a well-thought-out piece of legislation.
Smith: There were those earlier ones, and there were lots of them then to look at, so that’s fabulous.
Evans: Oh, yes, there certainly were.
Smith: But a lot of them were hybrids.
Evans: Yes.
Smith: I’ve written a book about this and noticed that a lot of them, like Santa Cruz, was a hybrid that
had side by side the innovation and the traditional. Eventually, the traditional gobbled up most of the
Evans: Yeah. In fact, Western Washington University, they did get that separate—I’m forgetting the
name of it.
Smith: Fairhaven.
Evans: Yeah, Fairhaven, of course. I don’t know whether that’s even still in existence anymore.
Smith: It is, but it’s little compared to how it started. It turned out in Steve Hunter’s interview, he said
that he went to Fairhaven as a student, and there were 600 students in that college then. Now, it’s, I
think, 100, 150. But it’s still there.
Evans: Okay.
Smith: Interesting. So, you really came with a lot of background in education and commitment to it.
Evans: Well, that was clearly the number one set of issues during probably the first two terms as
Governor. But certainly, up to the beginning of Evergreen, that was number one—education—because
we were just getting inundated by new students.
Smith: Yes. Wow. So, Evergreen gets birthed. Then what’s the story of how you came to Evergreen as
the President?
Evans: Well, I had a kind of interesting relationship with the college because it was so close, and it was
different and I was interested in its difference and how that was working out. I appointed the first five
Trustees of Evergreen and they in turn—this was before we even had a location. Well, they said within
10 miles, but there’s a lot of property within 10 miles of the Capitol.

Smith: Especially then.
Evans: Yeah. So one of the Trustees, Hal Halvorson, was a contractor from Spokane—a big contractor—
and he was chairman of their building committee. The site had not even been chosen yet. He hired his
own helicopter to fly over the whole area around Olympia. They flew over the site and he just thought
to himself, gosh, I wonder if it’s even possible to buy. They looked it up, I forget what the total was, but
it was not out of line at all, and it included 3,000 feet of undisturbed waterfront.
Smith: Wow.
Evans: He also ensured that we got enough land, because he talked to Trustees or Regents of our other
five institutions and every one of them said the same thing. “We didn’t get enough land.” Because as
soon as you describe the boundaries, immediately right outside the boundaries building starts for
people serving the institution.
Smith: Right, no expansion.
Evans: You cannot expand. So the current Evergreen campus is twice as large as the UW campus.
Smith: That’s amazing.
Evans: Yeah.
Smith: And there’s no moves to divide it and sell it either, I guess.
Evans: No.
Smith: That’s good.
Evans: Well, occasionally legislators get funny ideas, but that’s kind of gone by the wayside now.
Actually, my first big experience on the Evergreen campus was when Willi Unsoeld came to see me
when I was still Governor, and before I even thought about going to Evergreen. He said, “We’re building
a new campus activities building, and we’re about to have a ceremony. But I don’t want to have a
ribbon cutting, that’s not Evergreen. How would you like to rappel down the clock tower?”
Smith: Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s an old story. That’s good.
Evans: Oh, yeah. I said, “Willi, I’ve done some rappelling and stuff and mountain climbing, but I don’t
know about the clock tower.” He said, “Oh, come on. It’ll be fun.” So I finally said, “Okay.” I vividly
remember going out there—there was quite a crowd down below—and we went up the clock tower,
got to the top. I looked over the top at the 130 feet straight down and I said, “Boy, that’s a rappel that
I’ve never made before.” But I got all geared up. And they were smart enough to have both the rappel


rope and all of that, but also a safety line just in case. I remember getting to the top and I remember
just putting my feet on the corner of the ledge and then leaning backwards. Then I said, “Well, here
goes,” and just made the first jump. Then it was fun going down. It was just great. Willi came down
after me, and he got about halfway down and he turned upside-down and slid face-first all the way. He
was such a marvelous guy. So that was my first connection with Evergreen.
Smith: Wow. Tell us about how you came to be President.
Evans: That was an interesting series of events. March 1976 was when I made the announcement that I
was not going to run for another term. That was hard. I had all sorts of ideas and things that I wanted
to continue. I shared those with Jim Dolliver, who was my Chief of Staff and an absolutely superb guy,
and he listened for a while and he said, “You know, you cannot make that decision on the basis of
unfinished events and unfinished business, because every four years there will be unfinished business,
and if you make it on that decision, you go forever and that’s not right. You’ve got to make that decision
based on your own personal situation, how you feel about family and the rest, but never on the
unfinished agenda.”
He was absolutely right. I thought about it and when I was Governor, our boys were very young.
Bruce, in fact, was born when I was in the Mansion. Pre-school and early school years were somewhat
easier. But they were just getting to their teenage years and I said, “No, no. This is time to step aside.”
So, I did.
Then it was a question of what to do. I had no idea. But I started getting offers. Jim Ellis from
Seattle was on the Board of the Ford Foundation and he said, “We really would like you to put your
name in.” They were changing presidents at the time, the president of the Ford Foundation. And I was
offered an option to be CEO of a company located in Hoquiam where I knew the people. It was a family
business, but it was a big family business. They made the machinery at the end of the pulp and paper
line, so it was big, complicated machinery.
Smith: The engineering side of you.
Evans: Yeah, that’s right. I had some interest in it, but that didn’t seem to be right. So there were a
number of things. None of them seemed to be quite right. Time went on and it got to be early
December, and I was only a month away from being out of a job, really. [chuckles] But I had a call from
the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Evergreen, who had served in the Legislature—Herb Hadley—
He was a great friend and a very good guy.
Smith: I remember Herb.

Evans: He called me and he said, “Evans, have you ever thought about being President at Evergreen?” I
said, “No, not at all.” He said, “Well, Charles McCann has announced that he wants to step down and go
back to teaching. He’s been President for a very interesting six or seven years. Would you like to be
President?” I said, “Herb, I haven’t the least background in higher education.” He said, “Well, that’s not
what we need.”
Because by that time, Evergreen had opened, gone through its first several years, and it was
reaching sort of the peak of all the misunderstanding that was going on around Evergreen. People just
didn’t understand it. Legislators didn’t understand what was going on. They had started
enthusiastically, enrollment went way up, and then it started to decline.
Smith: Right. That was that pent-up demand from lack of institutions, wasn’t it?
Evans: That’s right. I had run across that a few years before, after the first year, when good friends of
ours in Olympia had a young son who was just ready, and they thought, he could be part of the first class
at Evergreen. I finally got a call from him and he said, “What the heck’s going on out there?” I said,
“What are you talking about?” He said, “My son went out there.” They were both avid sailors. They
raced a lot. “He came back and I said, ‘Well, what did you sign up for?’ ‘Sailing.’ ‘Well, that’s nice, but
what else?’ ‘Nothing.’” He says, “What’s that all about?” So he didn’t really try to find out, and, of
course, teenaged boys are not communicative, having three of them.
Smith: You knew that. [laughing]
Evans: Yeah. So I called Evergreen and talked to them and they said, “Well, yes, he’s in a program.” I
forget the title of it but it was a coordinated studies program.
Smith: The Marine Studies thing, yeah.
Evans: Yeah. I forget the four faculty but one was a mathematician, I think, one was a marine scientist
and one had experience with literature, I think, and history.
Smith: Probably Pete Sinclair.
Evans: It could have been, yeah. But anyhow, the four of them had 80 students, so they described to
me what they were doing and how it was all working. I called my friend back and I said, “Look, just listen
for a moment.” I explained the whole program and I said, “You know, if I was starting as a freshman
again, I would jump at doing that.” Because I was a sailor as well. He finally grumbled, but understood.
But that was the problem. We were having difficulty getting that across to people. I don’t think
the faculty really understood. They thought anybody should understand what this is all about. It’s so

good, you know, so terrific. They were so enthusiastic about it, but they did not get that story across to
the local community, to legislators, or to the advisors in high school that were making decisions or giving
advice to students.
Smith: They just wanted to teach. [laughing]
Evans: Yeah, that’s right. I found out more about all of that and talked to some of the people at
Evergreen, and finally went back to Herb and said, “Well, I think maybe this would be a good fit. Well,
okay. Now, what’s the application process?” He said, “Well, we’ve got a search committee, and the
search committee is going to meet two days from now and they’d like you to come and appear before
the search committee.” I said, “Well, okay.”
So, I did. And we spent I’ll bet it was three hours in front of the search committee. I suppose I
asked more questions than they did, but at the end of the three hours, I left and kind of wondered what
was happening next. Herb called me the next day and he said, “Well, they want you to be the next
President.” I said, “Aren’t they going through a search?”
They decided to end the search, and I don’t know any of the background of all that sort of stuff,
but I think there was some enthusiasm among the search committee. There certainly was among the
Board of Trustees. I don’t know of the interaction between the two at all. So, the announcement was
made, and that was the beginning.
Immediately in the next issue of the Cooper Point Journal, two guys authored a piece Not
opposing my nomination. They said, “We think the Governor would make a good President, but this was
the wrong thing to do. They should have gone through the search process” and all that sort of stuff.
They were probably right. The two who wrote that article were Joe Dear and Matt Groening.
Smith: Oh, wow.
Evans: Two of the more famous graduates of Evergreen. So, that was how I got there.
Smith: Were they on the committee, or were they just interested bystanders?
Evans: I don’t think either one was on the committee. I think they were just running the Cooper Point
Smith: That was pretty typical of what the Cooper Point Journal reported. [laughter]
Evans: Oh, gosh, yeah. I had announced that I was leaving nine months before, and the boys were kind
of uneasy. They just didn’t know what was coming next. They kept wondering, they kept asking,


“What’s going to happen?” I said, “I don’t know yet.” So when this happened, it was really a relief as far
as they were concerned.
Smith: Sure. They knew the schools, for one thing.
Evans: Sure, they knew the schools, their friends and everything, they wouldn’t have to move. We sat
around the dinner table one night shortly after the announcement and I told them, “You know, the new
job doesn’t start till July 1 and we leave in January. Maybe we could even take another trip.” Because
they were very familiar with the fact that Nancy and I had taken six months off shortly after we were
married and gone to Europe and had an absolutely spectacular time. The idea that we might do the
same thing was very appealing.
Smith: So, you did that?
Evans: And we did that, yeah.
Smith: That’s a great way to rebuild the family and calm down a little bit.
Evans: Absolutely. It was also a good idea to get the heck out of town when Dixie Lee Ray was going to
be the next Governor. I didn’t want to be around because I was continually being asked, “Dixie said this
or did this. What do you think?” I just didn’t want to even have to comment on that sort of stuff.
Smith: Smart. So, you came back, and you had decisions to make right away, didn’t you?
Evans: The biggest decision I had to make—in fact, I’m pretty sure I made that decision before we even
left for Europe—was realizing that I was not a higher education professional; that I needed a Provost
that could really deal with the internal affairs of the college while I was primarily an external person.
Byron Youtz had been Provost but he really wanted to go back to teaching. I sat down with him and we
had a long conversation, which was extraordinarily valuable for me in a lot of ways, but the important
thing was I said, “Byron, I need you to be Provost, because I do not have that background. And besides,
I’ve got to be the external face of the college to try to turn around our enrollment and have people
understand what we’re really all about.” He was a great trooper and he agreed. Boy, that was one of
the best appointments ever. He was just a superb guy.
Smith: He was an amazing person.
Evans: Yes, he was.
Smith: I worked for him as Dean after Ed Kormondy hired me, actually, and then left right away.
[laughter] But Byron was just the steadiest hand.
Evans: Wasn’t he?

Smith: Honest and straightforward.
Evans: Oh, he was.
Smith: But he had tons of experience from Old Westbury and Reed, too.
Evans: Oh, gosh, yes. He was just terrific. We had a good team built then.
Smith: I remember my interview, going to breakfast or lunch at the Oyster House, and sitting on a stool
and somebody just chatted me up. When they heard why I was there for an interview, I got nothing but
negatives about the college. All the misunderstandings were there.
Evans: Oh, sure.
Smith: Yes. You divided up the work sort of. It seemed like one of the critical pieces that came up was
the Legislature and the Council on Postsecondary Education and studying Evergreen. Did you see that
report request?
Evans: Oh, gosh, yes. I was immediately involved with the Legislature. I couldn’t have escaped it
because I knew everybody on the Legislature, and I knew immediately who were likely to be the more
difficult ones to deal with—who, incidentally, were the ones that the rest of the Legislature found
difficult to deal with, too. If you’re going to have opponents, I couldn’t have picked better ones,
because they tended to be guys in the Republican caucuses from the far right, and in the Democratic
caucuses just some old-time guys that hadn’t had a new thought in many years.
Smith: And thought this was a very strange place—which it was! [laughter]
Evans: Oh, yeah. That was really the very first thing that I ran into was this huge, almost universal
misunderstanding of what Evergreen really was and what it was doing. I remember early on just after
experiencing that—because I started out with the visits to high schools, talking with admissions
counselors and that sort of thing, and getting a sense of what their feeling was, and realizing that there
just wasn’t any understanding at all, even among those who were supposed to be counseling kids about
college educations.
I remember one faculty meeting. There was no faculty council, it was the whole faculty. I
remember one meeting where we did have a big turnout of the faculty, and we got into a discussion,
because I’d been there just long enough to have a feeling of what was going on in the outside. I talked
about the difficulties, and there was some real feedback from faculty members who said, “Well, that’s
not right.” I said, “No, it isn’t right, but it’s what people think. And what people think is what we’ve got
to deal with, and we’ve got to change that. We need to do a better job of explaining what we are doing

and how successful it can be. We’re sort of like a new company that has a great new product but they
haven’t sold any yet.”
Smith: That’s a great metaphor.
Evans: That’s where we were. We hadn’t had that many graduates. I asked Duke Kuehn, who was on
the faculty, to be my researcher for a semester, and to really try to go out and find out just what we can
find out and what we can tell people about Evergreen. We were only at that time about five, six years
old. We had maybe three graduating classes and that was it. But he came back after some weeks and
said, “Well, I’ve really found one very interesting statistic. We’ve had about 100 graduates apply for
graduate school, and they’ve applied to Yale and Harvard and MIT—great schools all over the country—
and 92 percent of them have gotten admitted, which is way, way above the normal.” I said, “God, that’s
terrific.” That was good news.
In fact, the piece of that that was even better was when I said, “Why did it happen?” “Well,
they were good graduates, and the Evergreen education taught them how to express themselves and to
make a case for themselves in their application. But the best part was no grades.” Of course, I had to
deal with that early on all the time. “Well, they don’t even give them grades. How do you know who’s
doing what?” I said, “It’s not no grades, it’s just a different kind of grading.”
Smith: Unpacking the grades is what I say.
Evans: Well, yeah. So when they would apply to these graduate schools, they’d have this whole folder
full of information. That was much more detailed than they knew about anybody with a grade point
average, and that started impressing people and that’s how they were getting in.
Smith: Interesting. I didn’t hear that part before.
Evans: That was the first real breakthrough in some respects that we got. But I sure touted the fact of
92 percent. We put that story out to everybody.
Smith: I remember one survey that was done—I don’t know if it was part of the CPE or Duke and you
doing this—there was a survey done where they asked people—I don’t know if it was students or
what—what they wanted in a college, and then what they saw at Evergreen. The things they said they
wanted were at Evergreen, but they didn’t associate it that way. That was amazing.
Evans: I know. Evergreen was sort of an undiscovered reality. What was really there, people didn’t
understand because it was set in different terms. At that faculty meeting I talked about, we got into
quite some debate on that whole thing. I said, “Look, I’m out there talking to people and they do not

understand all of these good things that you know about Evergreen. That’s our hurdle we’ve got to get
over. We’ve got to get that out there.”
Smith: Right. I think it also made them defensive about their educations.
Evans: Oh, sure.
Smith: Because it was all about know this, know that, know this, that and the other, without what the
positive was that was replacing it.
Evans: Oh, sure.
Smith: It’s a great marketing story.
Evans: It really started to work out. Of course, fairly early on one of our biggest problems was the fact
that this was an era of activism, and the State Legislature was right next door, so they were seeing these
kids from Evergreen coming and protesting and appearing before committees and getting involved.
Smith: They didn’t like it. [laughing]
Evans: They didn’t like it, and they didn’t like the fact that—I had legislators talk to me and they said,
“God, they look like a bunch of hippies.” I said, “Do you have any children in college?” Some of them
said, “Well, yeah.” “Where do they go?” Usually someplace far enough away so they didn’t see them
en masse. I said, “What are they wearing?” “Well, long hair.” So, Evergreen wasn’t that far out of line.
It was just that everybody in the country in college were protesting in whatever way they knew. The
difference was that it was hard enough to deal with your own children, but if they’re away to college,
you don’t see them. But here somebody else’s children are right there when you see them, 1,500 or
2,000 of them, and that’s what caused difficulty, of course. But even that kind of died in a little while.
Our first big change in the Legislature came not too long after I got there, when we elected
Denny Heck to the House and Eleanor Lee to the Senate.
Smith: He was a graduate.
Evans: He was a graduate by that time. She was a Republican woman and was a graduate. So we had a
Republican senator and a Democratic House member, both graduates of Evergreen. Boy, did I use the
two of them to get to the Legislature, and really they did a terrific job of really calming down many of
the legislators, so we were left with just some of the hardhats.
Smith: Yeah, which had less credibility in their own group.
Evans: That’s right.


Smith: Was Denny in the Legislature when the Legislature commissioned the Council for Postsecondary
Education (CPE) study, or was that later?
Evans: I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what years when he first came.
Smith: And now he’s in Congress.
Evans: He sure is.
Smith: He’s got great signs all over my district.
Evans: He won’t have any trouble getting reelected, so he’s going to be there a long time.
Smith: He’s good.
Evans: Yes, he is good.
Smith: Was the CPE study important about what happened when you were President, and how it
moved us forward?
Evans: Well, yeah. I think that it was important to have an external view of Evergreen, because I was
confident that any honest external view would be a positive one. I think Evergreen’s supporters thought
it would clarify what was strong about Evergreen and the opponents thought it would prove their point
that it should not be supported. It was not only the CPE, but then we had our first accreditation, and
that turned out to be hugely positive. Also, our first entry into the U.S. News & World Report rankings,
Evergreen was rated, I think, the third best small liberal arts college in the country. All of those things
really helped immensely.
Smith: I think now we’re in the top three—maybe we’re number one—on the most progressive.
Evans: Is that right?
Smith: Yes, right there with Swarthmore and Oberlin.
Evans: That’s pretty good company.
Smith: I know as a Dean it felt like the CPE report was our marching orders on how to increase
enrollment. It sure helped that we didn’t have to internally create that mandate.
Evans: Oh, yes.
Smith: Because we couldn’t have, I think. It’s still very hard to start new things that are a commitment
Evans: Yeah. I think that’s the one thing in recent years that’s been the outside views, there’s no
continuity. You start a program, it’s a great program, and the next year it’s gone. So somebody who

gets interested in Evergreen because they really think, god, this is a terrific program, and then they sign
up and go—oops! Where is it?
Smith: My biggest struggle as Curriculum Dean was trying to hold on to some of the stable pieces, and
some of the new areas like Management in the Public Interest that were popular. Certain areas of the
curriculum never came around to that point of view, but the sciences and the arts did. That sustained us
in lots of ways.
Evans: That’s right. You’ve got to have some continuity. New and different is okay, but only new and
different is [not].
Smith: Right, so it’s a balance issue, I guess.
Evans: Yeah.
Smith: There was this article I read a long time ago called “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,” and how
that doesn’t work. But too much structure doesn’t work either.
Evans: I know it.
Smith: We’re now sort of at that point where you decided to leave. We’d started turning everything
around, and the whole higher ed system was recovering from the recession. Then you decided to leave
when Jackson died, right? To take that position?
Evans: Evergreen has for their President a six-year term. In fact, when I first came, they said, “It’s sixyear terms and it’s renewable once.” So, it was a six-year term and a 12-year limit. But after just about
six years at Evergreen, I finally called Thelma Jackson, who was then Chair of the Board of Trustees, and
said, “Thelma, I’ve been here six years and I really think we’re to the point where we’re stable and a firm
part of our State’s higher education system, and it’s probably time for a more academically oriented
President.” This was in August and I said, “I’ll stay till the end of the next school year—next June—so
that you’ve got time to hire and install a new President and all that.” She said, “Well, great. Why don’t
we get together for lunch and really talk about this in detail.” We set the time for a lunch a week later,
and three days later, [Senator] Scoop Jackson died. Boy, that changed things.
Smith: Fast.
Evans: Oh, fast. Because I remember all of that very vividly, as you might guess. At the end of the six
years, the Board of Trustees gave me a very positive rating. They’d gone through their regular
examination of the President and they authorized a three-month sabbatical during the summer, so I was
looking forward to hiking and writing. It would have been fun.

And there we were. We’d been through most of the three months, because it was August. I
was looking forward to both the next school year and the Board of Trustees finding a new President and
going through that transition. Went to bed one night, and the phone rang at 11:00. I woke up and
answered. It was my brother, Roger, on the line. I said, “Roger, I’ve been asleep.” “Haven’t you heard
the news?” “What news?” He said, “Scoop Jackson just died.” Boy, I was immediately awake and tried
to find out—he didn’t have much more news, but that it had happened.
The next morning, I started getting phone calls and stuff from the press and I just pushed them
off. I said, “Look, Scoop Jackson just died. He hasn’t even had a funeral. I’m not going to say anything
about anything until after his funeral”—which was a huge event. Sixty some senators came out and the
Vice President. It was a well-deserved ceremony.
During that time, however, I had a phone call from Ralph Munro, who was then Secretary of
State. He said, “Have you talked to the Governor?” I said, “No, why should I talk to the Governor?” He
said, “You’ve got to let him know whether you would be interested or willing to accept an appointment
to the Senate.” I said, “That’s his job, not my job.” He said, “No, you ought to talk to him.” He was kind
of a little stern.
I hung up and then I thought about it and I said, “He’s probably right.” I did call the Governor
and he said, “Come to breakfast tomorrow morning at the Mansion.” I remember I just didn’t quite
know, because it was all so new and I didn’t quite know what to do. I remember, as I left to go for
breakfast, as I walked down the hall, I told Nancy, “I’m going to tell him no.” When I left the house, she
thought I was going to turn it down—well, turn down the opportunity at least to get nominated.
On the way down there, I listened to the radio. That was when the Soviets shot down the
Korean airliner. It was all the story about Scoop and the stories about very tense times with China at
that time. All of the challenges domestically, internationally, were on the news that morning. I thought
to myself, just on the drive down there, you can’t say no. You can’t just walk away from that sort of
Smith: Duty calls.
Evans: Yeah, there’s too much going on. So I went down there and we had a very pleasant breakfast,
and I thought to myself, boy, I wish we had had this room when I Governor. Well, we did have it in the
last year or so, but Nancy, of course, had really been the chief one in charge. She really wanted to
preserve the Mansion. At that time, they wanted to tear it down and build a new one, or do nothing.
Those were the two alternatives. She said, “No, we ought to preserve it and restore it and fix it up.” By

that time, they had a marvelous little family dining room. Because when we were there, for most of the
time the only place to eat was in the dining room with a table that would seat 18. [laughter] Or, a little
tin—I thought it was tin but it turned out it was painted, and I think it had a cover of some kind—but
anyhow, a little round table in the kitchen.
We ate, and he got to the fact that he would make an appointment, and he laughed and he says,
“You know, I got a call from the Democratic State Chairman saying, ‘Well, you must appoint a Democrat
to replace a Democrat.’ And I thought to myself, oh, no, I don’t.” [laughter] Then the Seattle Times
came out and said, “You’ve got to appoint a caretaker up till the next election.”
Smith: Who can’t run.
Evans: Spellman said, “I’m not going to do that because there’s too much going on. We need a real
senator.” But he was noncommittal, and I didn’t expect him to be anything else. I left and went back
home and told Nancy all that had happened.
That evening, we had a party at a friend’s home. Joel Pritchard, who was then in Congress had
just gotten remarried and wanted to introduce his new wife, so this friend of both of ours had a big
party with all of the Republican hierarchy and people and friends. It was a summertime garden party
and it was an absolutely marvelous party. Lots of talk but no decisions. In fact, I thought Joel Pritchard
would have been a superb appointment because he was there, he was a member of Congress, he was
hugely popular.
That was an early afternoon reception and several friends joined us for dinner at the Athletic
Club. We were at the Washington Athletic Club and dinner was just about over, and a messenger came
up and said, “We just got a message. You’re to call the Governor immediately.” I said, “Oh, man. I
wonder what’s happened?” So I left the table and called the Governor and he said—this was bout 9:30
or 10:00 at night—he said, “I’m having a press conference at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and I want you
there because I want to appoint you to the Senate.” Boy! I said, “Thank you. I’m honored, and I’ll be
there.” I came back and told Nancy, “I think there’s going to be a lot of change in the next few days.”
Smith: Moving to D.C. is big.
Evans: Oh, gosh, yeah. The next morning—early on in the morning before the press conference—we
called our three sons, who were all back East in school, and told them about it and told them what was
going to happen. Then they had the press conference and that was it.
Smith: You were moving closer to them that time.


Evans: Well, absolutely. Interestingly enough, the Republican conservatives in the State really didn’t
like that idea. They tried to convince the Governor that it was a bad idea.
Smith: Why?
Evans: I wasn’t conservative enough. They just thought, “That Evans, he’s way too liberal.”
Smith: Thay didn’t get over the fact that you were a Republican, which is a plus.
Evans: Oh, no.
Smith: The wrong breed.
Evans: Yeah. What was it? They kind of went to the Governor about that and he came back with a
great line. I’m not sure I can remember the three points of it. He said, “I enthusiastically endorse Dan
Evans, I enthusiastically appointed him to the Senate and I enthusiastically support him.” That was it.
He was terrific.
That really started things going. In the meantime, there was some question about how long the
appointment was for, because it would be until the next general election. Well, this was an oddnumbered year and we had just passed a bill establishing the odd-numbered years as general elections.
But we had done it for only a limited number of years. It had been done a few years earlier to allow tax
reform to be put on the ballot, because that had to be in a general election and it was an odd-numbered
year. They had to go to the Supreme Court. Finally, the Supreme Court said, “Well, this election will be
for the remainder of Jackson’s term,” which was almost six years. “And there is not time for a primary,
so everybody will run in the general election.”
I think we ended up with 25 or 26 candidates for the Senate, but finally the Governor talked to
Legislative leaders. They gathered together for a one-day session and established the special primary.
When I was sworn in, 30 days later there was a primary election and 60 days later the general election.
In September, you’re right in the midst of a lot of the really big action in the Senate, so I had to do all
those things at once. It was fascinating.
Smith: Yeah, you learn a lot, don’t you, in those situations?
Evans: Yeah, you sure do.
Smith: So why don’t we just conclude if you want to say summative comments about Evergreen, your
time at Evergreen, what you think its future looks like.
Evans: Evergreen was an experiment, and I guess in some respects it still is an experiment. But I think
that’s a good thing.

Smith: Yeah.
Evans: Because we need institutions doing different things. Otherwise, we can get lost in a sameness
that does not lead to any advancement. Sometimes Evergreen may have gotten too far out in front on
occasion, but I think just basically, the fact that it’s now 50-plus years old is a pretty good indicator that
it’s earned its place and it’s been a very good place. It’s been through some difficult times recently,
primarily from external intervention of people. We’re at a time when there’s a lot of conflict around the
Smith: Right, the culture of conflict.
Evans: Political conflict. A school like Evergreen is really open to a lot of external interference. I think
that not all that happened was handled maybe perfectly, but it got through it. And this year has been a
much better year. The trouble is that you pay for it. It can be a lot of misleading information and
external influences that cause internal problems, and enrollment suffers. But I think that will come back
and turn around.
I think Evergreen plays a very important role in higher education, in the State and the nation. I
still think that the coordinated study program—that basic concept and all of the other things that go
around it—they challenge students from the time they are freshmen. They don’t just sit and listen and
take notes. They’re dramatically involved in seminar, and they’re learning in a holistic way that hardly
any other institutions provide. I think that American education at the high school and the college level
too often gets caught up a whole series of courses, some of which are required, and you compile all of
those to get a degree without ever learning much about the interrelationship of things.
Smith: Which is how the world is, actually.
Evans: That’s right, and life is interrelated. The way we study in schools is artificial, and it does not
compare with the life they’re going to have once they leave school. Evergreen comes closer to that than
other institutions by some significant distance, I think.
Smith: Right.
Evans: It was a great experience. As I said, it’s still an experiment because Evergreen is constantly
searching how to do things better, and how to make them work better, and if that’s an internal
discussion, that ought to continue. Because that’s what makes it better and more significant and more
relevant. And I think that it’s not that Evergreen shouldn’t do that, it’s that other institutions ought to
do more of the same thing.


Smith: Right. There are 1,000 colleges doing little forms of coordinated studies now, but they’re little,
including UW.
Evans: Oh, yeah. In fact, I got on the Board of Regents at the University of Washington later on, and I
almost laughed out loud at some early Board of Regents meetings because we were required to approve
new programs that were established at the University. Every single one of the first few that I ran across
emphasized, as one of the more important things of the need for this new program, was that it’s
Smith: Wow. Yay! [laughter]
Evans: I just could hardly keep from laughing. So I think they are trying, and I think in that respect
Evergreen and its counterparts have provided a very strong lesson and example to other institutions.
Smith: One of the things that annoys me about alternative schools is they often become just navelgazing and they don’t work to innovate. Evergreen hasn’t done that. It’s been a leader, and that’s
Evans: Yeah.
Smith: That’s great. Thank you, Dan.