In 1975, Michael Evarts was accepted into the first Master of Science in Environmental Science (MSES) class at the O’Neill School (formerly known as SPEA). After two years, he graduated alongside new lifelong friends, and 45 years later, he and his classmates continue to support the school.
“During my time in Bloomington, the visionary staff at the O’Neill School laid the program’s foundation by giving credence to the significant environmental issues of the time,” said Evarts. “This forward-thinking approach set the tone for the rest of my professional career, reminding me to always search for the bigger picture. Most importantly, I met Vicki, my wife of 45 years, during my time in the MSES program.”
After graduation, Evarts began his career as an environmental scientist. Because of the experience gained through the O’Neill School, he was given the responsibility for conducting environmental studies on the Wabash and White Rivers and several lakes throughout Indiana. The fieldwork and research during his two years at the O’Neill School taught him how teamwork and scientific investigation contribute to the larger goal of meeting societal needs.
“In my career, I was fortunate to wear many hats, such as environmental supervisor, project manager for a nuclear facility, and human resource manager and director of leadership development,” said Evarts. “These responsibilities allowed me to mentor many employees, much like O’Neill faculty mentored me.”
In 2018, after 41 years, Evarts retired as director of crisis response at American Electric Power, having successfully developed incident command centers across 11 states in the Midwest to respond to emergency situations.
“I will always be grateful to the O’Neill School for giving me both an excellent education and the ability to take on immense challenges,” said Evarts.
In 2017, Evarts and the class of 1977 setup the Fred Mason Fisher Environmental Science Fellowship which grants scholarships to outstanding O’Neill graduate students.
“In gratitude, the MSES class of 1977 continues to support the school, honoring our dear friend and classmate Fred Fisher,” said Evarts. “I wish present and future O’Neill students the best of luck and hope they enjoy their once-in-a-lifetime experience at a world-class academic institution.”