Thomas W. Evans ’57 was a presidential adviser, an educator, and a longtime member of the Columbia Law School Board of Visitors. He passed away on June 11, 2013, at the age of 82.
Born in New York City in 1930, Evans enlisted in the Marines during the Korean War. His distinguished service earned him a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. He then went on to graduate from Williams College before enrolling at Columbia Law School.
After earning his J.D., Evans worked as an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City, before joining Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander in 1965. At Mudge Rose, Evans met fellow partner Richard Nixon and became a close adviser to him during Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign. He also served as an adviser to presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton during his career.
Evans published The School in the Home, an educational handbook based on the teachings of Dr. Adolf A. Berle Sr. (father of Columbia Law School Professor Adolf A. Berle Jr.) in 1973. Ten years later, he founded the MENTOR program, a legal apprenticeship for New York City high school students. Based on the success of that project, Evans was appointed to serve as co-chair of a commission tasked with developing the Institute of Law and Justice, a high school focused on legal and civic education. The program’s students boasted such high college acceptance rates that it was replicated in schools around the city. Eventually, Evans combined elements from MENTOR and the Institute of Law and Justice to create the Justice Resource Center, a program that teaches grade-school students about government and civic responsibility.
Evans’ focus on education led to his appointment as a trustee of Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1985, and, six years later, he was named chairman of the board. In addition, he served as a member of Columbia Law School’s Board of Visitors from 1973 to 1994. Evans remained involved in various professional organizations and was the president of the Federal Bar Council. He was also a partner in George Steinbrenner’s 1973 purchase of the New York Yankees.
Evans is survived by his wife, Lois, and his children, Heather, Logan, and Paige.