The University of the Incarnate Word welcomed Thomas Evans as its 10th president in a celebratory event on the university’s campus Tuesday. Evans was approved earlier this month by the UIW board of trustees and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

“I think this is the most exciting presidency in the United States,” Evans said.

That may sound like hyperbole, he said, but reviewing the more than 100-year history of the university, the growth of its system, and its current economic impact in San Antonio, Evans sees his excitement as justified.

The position at UIW will bring Evans back to Texas after having served for 16 years at St. Edward’s University in Austin, departing as associate vice president of professional education and global initiatives. Evans comes to UIW directly from Carroll College, a small Catholic liberal-arts school in Helena, Mont. He oversaw Carroll’s strategic plan and managed a budget of $55 million, along with various capital campaigns.

UIW’s global mission fits Evans’ particular interests. As early as high school, Evans cultivated a love for non-English-speaking populations, particularly in Asia.

Evans holds both a Master of Arts in Asian studies and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a Bachelor of Science in language arts from the School of Languages and Linguistics at Georgetown University.

The “family atmosphere” at UIW also has excited Evans, who said he looks forward to bringing his wife of 22 years, Lisa, and two sons, Walter and Leland, into the culture of UIW.

He will replace UIW’s longest-serving president, Louis Agnese Jr., whose tenure ended abruptly last summer. The board of trustees removed Agnese last August following complaints of erratic and offensive behavior.

While Agnese first hinted that he might pursue a defamation lawsuit against the board of trustees, relationships appear to have mended. The board voted in October to name Agnese president emeritus.

Former provost and chancellor Denise Doyle has served as acting president since Agnese’s departure.

The fact that UIW, which was founded in 1881, has only had nine previous presidents impressed Evans.

“There’s a lot of pressure for longevity,” he said.

More than 90 people applied for the position, said UIW board member Bobby Rosenthal, who led the search committee. Over a long and involved process, which included input from the high school and charitable arms of the UIW system, Evans emerged as the unanimous first choice, Rosenthal said. His qualifications met the needs of the diverse community, as expressed by the search committee and eventually the Sisters of Charity and the board.

“There’s nobody that doesn’t want you here,” Rosenthal said.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog,, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.