For former Washington State Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evans, a decades-long political career was not a vocation. “It’s part of my life. It is the art of science and government, and I’m a full-time practitioner,” he told Whitman students who joined him for lunch in Maxey Hall on Friday.
Evans spoke in one of Professor of Politics Phil Brick’s classes during the day Thursday and to a campus and community audience on Thursday evening on the topic of “Where Have All the Moderates Gone?”
“Dan Evans breaks political stereotypes,” said Bruce Magnusson, associate professor of politics and coordinator of Evans’ visit, which was supported by the Governor Arthur B. Langlie Fund for Northwest History, Politics and Public Service.
“It is a good thing for students to talk to someone like him, especially in this cynical age,” Magnusson said. “It’s a good thing for all of us to hear his message in this cynical age.”
“He talks about the hard work of politics, and that all of us are to some extent politicians, and about the fun of politics,” Magnusson said. “This experience makes a difference to these students,” he said.
Evans shared entertaining and enlightening stories from his three-term governorship and his term in the U.S. Senate during lunch on Friday, drawing laughs and smiles from about 10 students in attendance. He also answered questions on subjects that ranged from energy alternatives to the role of the United States in the world and offered tactical advice to Kramer Phillips ’08 about the best way to get a state initiative on the ballot.
Evans’ visit was a huge boon for students, Phillips said after the lunch. “Both in terms of hearing him describe his experiences and the personal aspect of meeting him and networking,” Phillips said. Evans reinforced for Phillips the importance of the personal aspect of politics, the ability to talk to people about important issues.
In anecdotes about his experiences
throughout the lunch session, Evans, a Republican, reinforced the value of
working across party lines and being willing to let others take the credit as
being two of the most effective ways to get something accomplished. “When you
reach out to others, work with people in a bipartisan way, it’s amazing what
you can accomplish,” Evans said.
Former Washington state first lady Nancy Bell Evans '54, vice chair of the Whitman College Board of Trustees, also was on campus for meetings on Thursday and Friday.