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Chemeketa faculty member is elected to state Legislature

Paul Evans, at his desk at the Oregon State Capitol

Paul Evans, at his desk at the Oregon State Capitol

By Sadie Verville Photo By Brad Bakke

Paul Evans wants to make a difference in his students’ lives here at Chemeketa with his new role in the Oregon government.

“Anytime a person is teaching classes that they are also a practitioner of, I think the students benefit,” he said.

Evans, a communications instructor on the Salem campus, was elected to serve the Oregon’s District 20 in the House of Representatives for the next two years, starting this month.

“I’d like to think I provide my students an opportunity to communicate in ways that reflect current expectations, as well as share with students real-world experiences of when this or that approach to a speaking method worked,” Evans said.

As far as how this new role in state government affects his position at Chemeketa, Evans said that he was not concerned.

“Most of the time, I’ll still be a professor here,” he said.

“When session comes up, I’ll be on leave.”

The Oregon legislative sessions often run for six months. Legislative leave will be in effect until Evans returns to the classroom in July for the start of the summer term.

“In our environment of citizen legislatures, where everybody in that building has to have a job, I think that a community college instructor is actually a pretty good fit,” Evans said.

“Experience in Legislature and teaching really is a good synergy in being able to provide students real-world examples of this or that method of speaking.

“Also, it is taking my classroom experience to inform my peers in the Legislature about what we need to do in order to prepare workers for the 21st century.”

Evans said the college administration has no concerns about his leave.

“I met with the dean, the president, and senior leadership, and they seem to be very comfortable with the Legislative Leave plan that we’ve put in place.

“It won’t cost the institution any money, and it provides an added voice in the building for the needs of community colleges.

“I’m very excited about the opportunities that we have.”

Evans’ students already seem to benefit from his experience.

Peter Schomus, a first-year student in Evans’ Comm 111 class, said that the instructor’s teaching benefitted from his political role.

“Some curriculum is influenced by his experience in politics,” Schomus said. “He will chip in some little things about politics and how it relates to real life.”

For Colby Moses, another student in Evans’ Comm 111 class, the instructor’s influence goes beyond a merely educational role.

“He’s a funny guy, and he’s good at connecting on a personal level,” Moses said.

As for how long this new role will last, Evans said he was not sure but also was not concerned.

“I’m just going to enjoy it one day at a time,” Evans said.

He also is not yet sure if he is going to run for re-election two years from now.

“The real point for me is whether or not I’m making a difference. If I am, then I will continue to run,” he said.

Evans said he hoped to help students in as many ways as he could with his new job.

“If students, especially those in student government or the press, have ideas that they’d like to take advantage of for learning experience, I’m still a teacher, even if I’m not teaching in a class,” he said.

He also encourages students to visit his office at the State Capitol, H-281, call (503)986-1420, or email him to share their ideas with him.

“My heart is still a teacher,” he said.

Evans said he was optimistic about his role in both institutions and how much it could benefit students, as well as his constituents.

“At the end of the day, I’m hoping that the next 24 months are a good experience for both House District 20 and the institution itself,” he said.

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