English Professor Leslie Evens Retires

After 38 years of teaching poetry, grammar, literature, and writing classes, Professor Evens is retiring from North Central

Professor Leslie Evens announced her retirement this December. The long-serving English professor has taught at North Central for 38 years. She will not return full-time in the spring semester, but said she may still adjunct various English classes online.

Evens said she will miss her office and the campus, but said she will miss the students even more.

“Number-one are my students, that’s why I’m a teacher,” Evens said. “I love the classroom, I love engaging the students.”

Students say they will remember her lessons in the classroom and her mentorship outside of classroom. Evens often took time to go out for coffee with students or have other one-on-one meetings with them.

The faculty and staff hosted a celebration for Evens in Philipps Hall’s Clay Commons. Her absence leaves the English majors with several new and returning adjunct faculty and one full-time professor, Desiree Libengood, who is also the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Evens, whose last name was formerly Crabtree, is the longest serving English faculty member at North Central. When she began teaching, the campus—and the city—were much different.

In 1981, with just an undergraduate degree, she was offered a one-semester full-time contract at what was then North Central Bible College. At that time, the Rev. Don Argue was just beginning his term as the fifth president at the college.

After Evens’ first semester, she was invited to stay and continued teaching. During her first year, Evens was younger than many of her students, due to a large population of older male students who had come back to college to enter vocational ministry.

She taught seven classes her first year (a full-time load for a professor is four classes). In addition to teaching her first year, she began taking classes at the University of Minnesota in pursuit of her master’s degree. She has since completed her master’s degree in English Education and went on to earn her Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in literacy from Hamline University.

As a young undergraduate, Evens went to the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where she double majored in both English and music education. She was offered a prestigious position in music education in Nebraska. Even though the position was a highly coveted one, she decided not to take it. 

“The Holy Spirit told me to turn it down,” Evens said. “I got offered it and I prayed over it, and I knew I was not supposed to take it. Little did I know, two months later, I would be working at North Central.”

Evens has taught 32 different classes including freshman writing classes, various creative writing, grammar, literature, music appreciation, and media classes. She was the cornerstone of the English program at the university.

She was also honored in 2002 in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. In 2015, she was named one of the Distinguished Educators of the Year by the Assemblies of God. Throughout the years, she also became a sought after conference presenter and has also been a reviewer for the Minnesota Board of Education. Additionally she has been North Central’s representative to the American Council on Education. While working full-time at North Central, she has also taught as an adjunct faculty member in Hamline University’s Graduate School of Education.

But students say that Evens stands out as a unique and special professor because she truly cares for her students and allows the Holy Spirit to speak through her to them.

“There were times when the Holy Spirit broke loose in a class, that happened a few times, where we ended up just having prayer services,” said Evens. “It just happened—I started sharing something, somebody said something else, and one thing led to another.”

Evens also said many times she shared something with a class that she had not planned on saying. And every single time she has listened to the Spirit’s leading and shared something with the class in that way, she received a note, email, or an in-person conversation with someone saying they needed that encouragement that she shared that day.

After she retires from teaching as a professor this semester, Evens will be working with the Hennepin County Library system in Brooklyn Park.