Western taps business, technology vet to lead regional development arm

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University has announced the appointment of technology and marketing industry veteran Paul L. Evans as director of its Center for Regional Development, which is responsible for linking the assets of the region and the university to drive economic development in Western North Carolina.

Paul L. Evans

Paul L. Evans

Evans comes to Western after more than 20 years in the private sector as an accomplished technologist and business executive whose experience ranges from creating innovative start-ups to launching new companies and divisions within multi-billion dollar corporations.

“Our students and faculty at Western Carolina University are deploying new ways to improve products and services and spur innovation,” Chancellor John W. Bardo said in announcing the appointment. “In the new economy, knowledge is the trump card. With the addition of Dr. Paul Evans, we have greatly expanded Western’s economic outreach capabilities as we move aggressively to position the university as central to regional growth.”

Evans, who received his master’s degree from Western in 1972 as part of the National Teacher Corp before going on to earn his doctorate from the University of Georgia, said he is excited to be returning to the Western North Carolina mountains and playing a role in helping the region prosper.

“We are compelled to differentiate Western North Carolina businesses in a way that builds on the assets of the region and university, and in a way that cannot easily be exported,” Evans said. “For our region to compete in today’s economy, we must increase the penetration of WCU’s advanced technology, research, resources, programs and services into new and existing regional businesses.”

During his business career, Evans has held senior management positions with technology stalwarts IBM and EDS. He was executive vice president worldwide at Young and Rubicam, the New York City advertising and marketing powerhouse. He also founded two interactive start-up ventures and he was a principal at international business consulting firm AT Kearney.

Before moving into the private sector, Evans, an educator and researcher by training, was program director at the National Science Foundation, where he did technology policy analysis and program management, and authored NSF’s Science and Engineering Databook.

The Center for Regional Development is a university research center that focuses the university’s intellectual capital – its faculty, staff and students – to address regional economic development needs and foster business growth.

“As labor and manufacturing move off-shore, knowledge becomes the primary source of business value in America,” Evans said. “Chancellor Bardo is committed to having the leadership and technical competence in place so that our region can fully realize the new bond between university and enterprise.”

The Center for Regional Development forms collaborative partnerships with other regional organizations and identifies new initiatives through which the CRD can contribute to the economic development of the WNC region. The center also conducts policy analysis and applied research, carries out surveys and polls, and administers service projects on economic and community capacity building, government training, and natural resource conservation and development.

For more information on the CRD or its services, telephone (828) 227-7492.