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Alumnus honored for outstanding public service at OHIO State Government Alumni Luncheon

M.C. Tilton
May 12, 2016

More than 130 Ohio University alumni in Ohio public service gathered at the Athletic Club of Columbus to honor OHIO alumnus Matt Evans for his outstanding service to the state at the 33rd Annual State Government Alumni Luncheon on May 3. The luncheon, hosted by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis on behalf of OHIO’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, recognizes acts of community and public service by alumni to the betterment of the state of Ohio.

The criteria for the award include significant achievement in the profession, outstanding public service to Ohio, and service contributions for the public affairs programs at Ohio University. The award winners serve on the Ohio University Leadership and Public Affairs Advisory Committee, and individual members of the committee may also be active in teaching, internships and job placement of Ohio University students.

The luncheon was sponsored by Bricker and Eckler LLP.

Event highlights

In his opening remarks, President McDavis called OHIO campuses “the epicenter of innovation within their communities.”

“Among public affairs schools and Ohio University, a key distinction has been the role that the alumni in this room have played in making it happen,” McDavis said.  “You’ve been teaching and mentoring students, developing new programs, advocating, lobbying and building companies.”

State Representative Ryan Smith delivered the keynote address. Smith is currently serving his second term representing the 93rd house district and is chairman of the Finance Committee. He spoke of the duty he believes every citizen has to some form of public service.

“I always compare public service to my experience in T-ball – if you don’t step up to coach, who else will?” Smith said. “Clearly, all of you in this room have found a way to do that.”

Smith and 2015 award winner Ken Wilson then introduced Ohio University Political Science ’93 alumnus Matt Evans, with whom they are good friends.

Recognition of Matthew T. Evans

Matthew T. Evans is the President of Boich Companies, a privately-held coal mining and marketing company headquartered in Columbus. Boich is an investor in many projects throughout the United States, including ownerships in real estate, telecom, retail and financial service businesses.

After serving as the president of College Republicans at Ohio University, Evans built 23 years of experience managing legislative and regulatory issues at both the state and federal level, with specific expertise in energy policy. He began his career working as an aide in the Ohio Senate and later served on the staff of Governor George V. Voinovich. Evans also spent five years managing legislative and regulatory affairs for Duke Energy.

Evans credits much of his outlook on his public affairs career to former OHIO political science professor Frank Henderson, who taught Evans to defend himself among people of different ideologies.

“There’s no safe spaces in the real world,” Evans said. “College kids need to be taught how to stand up for themselves, because there will always be someone on the other side pointing a finger at you.”

When Evans was eight years old, he worked with his parents to distribute Voinovich literature at Cleveland Stadium before a Browns game, and from that day became loyal to Governor Voinovich.  “To be able to work for the Voinovich administration, to me, was really special because there was a man, a governor, who did it the right way,” Evans said. “He was a problem solver, a listener, he truly cared. He was the ultimate example, and I was the guy holding the coat, opening the door. I stand here as someone who watched him from that point of view, and I’ve carried that forward.”

Evans’ main point in his remarks was his awe at the community initiatives of the Voinovich School, including his observance of Dean Mark Weinberg and Senator Voinovich’s constant commitment to translating student experiences to the real world after graduation.

“I think the Voinovich School is the ultimate legacy to George Voinovich – he’s not just parking his legacy in an archive; he’s supported a school that’s doing something,” Evans said. “The Voinovich School is properly addressing our situation: how do we make life better for Southeast Ohio, and Ohio in general? It’s truly George Voinovich’s legacy to have a school that asks what we’re going to do now, and how we’ll solve the problems.”

Evans was overwhelmed with gratitude for his recognition and called the experience “surreal.” His emotional words brought members of the audience to tears.

About the Voinovich School

The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is a catalyst for regional, state and national collective impact in entrepreneurship, energy and the environment, and public and social engagement. Ranked as 39th of the Top 50 Most Innovative Public Service Schools in the country, the Voinovich School was also recently elevated to the top 100 U.S. News and World Report Best Public Affairs Grad Schools. Partnerships with nonprofit organizations, government and the private sector create public value by leveraging the expertise of 12 faculty members and 60 professional staff. Home to the Master of Public Administration and the Master of Science in Environmental Studies degrees programs, the Voinovich School engages nearly 200 students in a combination of hands-on opportunities and networking to bring their ideas to life, as they prepare for careers in Ohio’s rural region and beyond.

For a complete list of award winners, visit www.ohio.edu/alumni/sgal.