Washburn Tech instructor achieves excellence

Instructor Michael Evenson and his class pose with his award. Evenson is the first faculty member from Washburn Tech to win the award.

Alex Hounchell

Student Life declared Michael Evenson, instructor of commercial heavy construction, the first Washburn Tech recipient of the Achieving Excellence Award Jan. 13.

“We arranged to present the award to him in front of his class,” said Jackie Askren, executive assistant of Student Life. “You could see the surprise in his eyes when we walked in. He was honored.”

After a push to get the word to Washburn Tech about the award, the Student Life Office received several nominations from students at the technical school.

Evenson has taught at Washburn Tech and worked with the New Faculty Training Program for nearly six years.

“I try to give them hope and knowledge,” Evenson said. “No matter what happens in life, you need to look out of the box. [I] tech them respect and tough love, so they can succeed in life.”

Evenson is a Washburn Tech alumnus, who worked in Topeka for three decades as a foreman in the water division. He was instrumental in setting up the Commercial and Heavy Construction Program and teaming up with the vendor, The Victor L. Phillips Company.

“I had a student who had the skills and knowledge to work as an operator,” Evenson said. “He went to on-the-job training, lost the job in a week. After his second time losing the job, we went deeper into the issues he was having and he went out to a third job. He’s still there a year later.”

Evenson taught forklift classes in the city of Topeka for 11 years. He is an example of a Topeka native who has gone above and beyond for the area.

“Teaching has always been my life goal,” Evenson said. “I have coached and taught any classes my previous job would let me. I love that I’m able to teach students higher education and life skills.

Students can nominate a Washburn University faculty members, Washburn Tech faculty members, community leader or adviser for the award. Students may fill out a paper application at the Student Life Office in Morgan Hall 240. Alternatively, students may visit the Achieving Excellence page on Washburn’s website to submit a digital application.

The award is presented September through May. Nominations made in the summer will carry over into the fall semester.

“This is my dream job,” Evenson said. “Nothing is a greater honor than seeing my students succeed in life and use the skills they’ve learned in my program”