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Get to Know … Re Evitt, Associate Dean of the College

Get to Know … Re Evitt, Associate Dean of the College

Re Evitt, the new associate dean of the college, is organized, systematic, and ensures that things run smoothly – just like a Swiss clock. That should come as no surprise, considering both her parents came from Switzerland. Born in Colorado, she lived in the United States and Switzerland during her childhood.

Evitt, an associate professor in the English Department, specializes in medieval literature (including Marie de France, Dante, and Chaucer).  She also teaches Shakespeare, Introduction to Poetry, and History of the English Language. In her new position, Evitt supports student advising and research.  She works with faculty, the Student Life Office, the Registrar’s Office, the FYE Program, and the Colket Center for Academic Excellence to facilitate and advance student learning, mentoring, and advising.  Evitt reviews student academic progress and helps students identify and access sources of support including opportunities for research, internships, and independent study.

Or, to put it in concise, Swiss terms: “I make connections for students using different resources,” she said. “I support students across the spectrum in academics.”

Evitt's favorite thing about her work is the flow of energetic, imaginative students who come through her office.  She's open to hearing their ideas as well as their concerns and works to help them navigate the intricacies of Colorado College’s academic system.

More Re Evitt facts:

  • Evitt lived in Fort Collins until she was 11-years old, often spending summers with her family in Switzerland.  She moved back to Switzerland with her family when she was 12, only to return to America the following year. Her father missed the hands-on, experiential style of teaching he had done in Colorado (as opposed to the more formal European lecture style).
  • Her father taught neuro-anatomy at CSU Veterinarian School, and later at the University of Missouri and Ohio State University. Her mother was the first child psychologist in Northern Colorado.
  • Evitt started at Stanford as a music major, then took a gap year to attend UC Boulder and study with the first oboist of the Denver Symphony, practicing five to eight hours a day. At the end of the year, her mentor candidly assessed her potential, drive, and interest in things other than oboe.  She says the ensuing conversation gave her “a good sense of what advising conversations should be like.”  (She still plays oboe, but she returned to Stanford.
  • Favorite ski mountains: Wildhaus in Switzerland; Breckenridge and Snowmass in Colorado.
  • What she’s reading: Moni Mohsin’s novel “The End of Innocence”; Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (50th anniversary edition!) and anything that’s on the Visiting Writers Series schedule. “I try to read something from everyone who comes to campus, though I’m not always successful.”  Also on her to-read list is CC History Professor Anne Hyde’s book, “Empires, Nations, and Families” and Ruth Karras’ award-winning “Unmarriage: Women, Men, and Sexual Unions in the Middle Ages.”  “I like history of any kind. History definitely influences literature.”
  • Other interests: Skiing (did we mention the Swiss heritage?); oboe, English horn, tenor recorder, and Krumhorn (when possible, she plays with the CC Chamber Orchestra and Collegium Musicum); Airedales; Maine Coon cats; film theory; hiking, backpacking, and camping.
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“It’s all about the opportunities the college offers students,” said Evitt. She started at CC in 1999, and the first committee she served on oversaw the Keller Venture Grants, a program in which eligible students receive $1,000 to pursue an academic research project of their choice. “I’m just in awe of what our students do with those opportunities,” she said. “I look at their proposals and can’t believe some of them. They are amazing.”

Although Evitt is excited about the opportunities her new position offers, she’s also reluctant to give up teaching. “I hope to continue to teach two blocks a year,” she said. “Teaching is important to me. I want to be in touch with the students in the classroom as well.”

In addition to teaching on-campus courses, Evitt has led popular off-campus courses, including Dante in Exile (Florence); Dante and Michelangelo (taught with Associate Art History Professor Rebecca Tucker in Italy), World Shakespeares (taught with Assistant English Professor Steve Hayward in London), and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (London, Canterbury). In the 2008 Canterbury class, Evitt led students on a two-day 21-mile hike into Canterbury, showing them parts of the trail that the pilgrims of the late 14th-century had actually walked. “You read about it, but it doesn’t really sink in. Many of the pilgrims did the last miles on their knees, and the trail is covered with flint. It’s not fine sand; it’s sharp, cutting shards.” Upon completing the trek, the soles of Evitt’s shoes were sliced through. “Going to a place helps you understand the people and the space they are in historically. It helps you think back over the centuries. You’re one step closer to what influenced their lives.”

Growing up in both America and Switzerland (which is 1/7th the size of Colorado yet has four native languages – German, French, Italian, Romansch), Evitt developed an aptitude for languages. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at Stanford University, and a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia where her dissertation focused on dramatic representations of Jews in western Medieval Europe. She knows German, French, is currently working on her Italian, and reads Medieval Latin, Old English, Middle English, Old French, and Middle High German.  When Evitt told her trilingual, science-oriented parents – her father was a neuro-anatomist teaching at a college of veterinary medicine and her mother a child psychologist that she was going to be an English major, her mother, after a long pause, replied, “Oh good, you’re going to study a foreign language.”

Her language skills are impressive. In addition to numerous publications, Evitt also does sound recordings of Chaucer’s works with leading experts in the field. Most recently, “The Parson’s Tale,” forthcoming from The Chaucer Studio, took two eight-hour days to record. Another forthcoming Chaucer Studio recording is William Langland’s “Piers Plowman” which also will feature Evitt as part of an ensemble cast reading alliterative poetry in Middle English.

Her passion for the subject is evident: Who else but a Medievalist would have Canterbury Cathedral as the screen-saver on her computer?   “It’s an important place to me,” Evitt says. “For Medieval pilgrims, it was not just a place for physical, but also psychological healingfor peace of mind. It’s a powerful place for me. People can lose their direction in any number of ways, but pilgrimage is about finding yourself again – taking a journey and finding your way home.”

More Re Evitt facts:

 

  • Evitt lived in Fort Collins until she was 11-years old, often spending summers with her family in Switzerland.  She moved back to Switzerland with her family when she was 12, only to return to America the following year. Her father missed the hands-on, experiential style of teaching he had done in Colorado (as opposed to the more formal European lecture style).
  • Her father taught neuro-anatomy at CSU Veterinarian School, and later at the University of Missouri and Ohio State University. Her mother was the first child psychologist in Northern Colorado.
  • Evitt started at Stanford as a music major, then took a gap year to attend UC Boulder and study with the first oboist of the Denver Symphony, practicing five to eight hours a day. At the end of the year, her mentor candidly assessed her potential, drive, and interest in things other than oboe.  She says the ensuing conversation gave her “a good sense of what advising conversations should be like.”  (She still plays oboe, but she returned to Stanford.
  • Favorite ski mountains: Wildhaus in Switzerland; Breckenridge and Snowmass in Colorado.
  • What she’s reading: Moni Mohsin’s novel “The End of Innocence”; Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (50th anniversary edition!) and anything that’s on the Visiting Writers Series schedule. “I try to read something from everyone who comes to campus, though I’m not always successful.”  Also on her to-read list is CC History Professor Anne Hyde’s book, “Empires, Nations, and Families” and Ruth Karras’ award-winning “Unmarriage: Women, Men, and Sexual Unions in the Middle Ages.”  “I like history of any kind. History definitely influences literature.”
  • Other interests: Skiing (did we mention the Swiss heritage?); oboe, English horn, tenor recorder, and Krumhorn (when possible, she plays with the CC Chamber Orchestra and Collegium Musicum); Airedales; Maine Coon cats; film theory; hiking, backpacking, and camping.