Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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Dr. Robert Evanson

Political science professor’s three decades at UMKC will be fondly remembered

After 32 years at UMKC, political science professor Robert Evanson retired at the end of the spring semester.

Evanson, whose emphasis is International relations and comparative politics, began his academic career at the University of Florida before transferring to the University of Illinois.

Majoring in political science with a minor in history, Evanson decided to continue his academic career by attending the University of Wisconsin’s political science graduate program. It was during his graduate work there that he discovered an acute interest that would capture his attention for the rest of his academic career: the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

“I took two classes on Soviet politics and Soviet foreign policy. After I took those two classes I was hooked,” Evanson said. “I have always been fascinated with power politics.”

Since discovering his acute interest, Evanson has written countless essay publications regarding Soviet economics, Soviet-Latin American relations and other dealings with the former Eastern Bloc.

After receiving his master’s, Evanson taught at Clarke University for five years, after which he completed his Ph.D. in 1979. He began teaching at UMKC in 1980 and quickly became cherished colleagues with current political science professors Harris Mirkin and Max Skidmore, among others.

Evanson became a tenure track teacher in 1986. In 1989 he began seven years of what was at least part time administration which included: three years at department chair, one year as vice chancellor of academic affairs, and as an associate Arts & Sciences dean from 1989-1992, where he made friends with faculty from other schools and departments.

“I will miss the people most,” Evanson said. “I love it here. Of all my years here, I can count on one hand the amount of people I didn’t like. It’s a really nice place to work, and I will miss it a lot.”

Evanson has also made an impression on numerous students over the years while teaching and working with them on independent studies.

“I really liked his class partly because of the subject matter but also because of his teaching style,” said Evan Helmuth, a senior political science major. “He is a good lecturer. He doesn’t talk at you but more like he is having a conversation, and he was always keen to have a conversation with you about stuff that interests you. He also went out of his way to help people with letters of recommendation or research.”

On March 4, the Political Science Department held a retirement party for Evanson. Associate professor and Department Chair Dr. Mona Lyne gave a farewell speech in his honor.

“A specialist in Soviet, post-Soviet and Eastern European politics, Dr. Evanson was a highly valued member of the department,” Lyne said. “He was a favorite of students who filled his classes and frequented his office regularly. He will be greatly missed by the department for his dedication, his collegiality and his great sense of humor.”

Upon retirement, Evanson has moved to Seattle, Wash., and will also spend five months out of the year at his cottage in Wisconsin. In Seattle, he will teach an online course at a local college, work on one of his four ongoing research papers and co-edit a book.

“I am really looking forward to writing in retirement,” he said. “I figured with all the writing I have planned, it will be enough to keep me busy for the next several years.”


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