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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Where are they NOW?

    <ong>Name: Ian Evison

    Major: Soc/Anthro and Mathematics

    What you are currently doing
    I am a Unitarian Universalist Minister serving the Congregational Services Director for the Central Midwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association (sorry that is such a big mouthful!).  What this means, briefly, is that I lead a team whose work it is to support 80 odd Unitarian Universalist congregations in the Midwest.  We help them with planning, staff transitions and training.  One exciting part of the work of the last two years has been learning how to take our work online with webinars and other digital media.  This also has helped to make the work greener and has kept costs down in very tough budget years.  The work is a great privilege and honor,  I work with excellent leaders doing important things for their churches and for our larger world.

    How I give back/stay engaged with Carleton:
    Alas, I have not been involved much for a long time.  For a few years after graduating I was an admissions volunteer, and now I am responding to this questionnaire.

    Favorite Carleton Tradition/Event (Rotblatt, Halloween concert, etc.): 
    Sleepovers in the Arb.

    Is there anything that particularly surprises you about Carleton’s campus today or what current Carleton students are doing? 
    What surprises me is the degree of continuity with the time I was a student—the sense of intellectual community, the orientation of the campus outwards towards the world (love those international programs).

    What is your favorite story from your time at Carleton? 
    Hard to pick one favorite.  Might, I suppose, be the time townies spattered eggs against the windows in the stairwells on the back side of Goodhue and a few of us took it upon ourselves to clean the windows by rappelling from the roof.  As a matter of interest, I note that sun-baked raw egg does not clean with detergent and a scrub brush.  Razor blade works better.  Also, don’t try to rappel with a full bucket of water.  You are likely to give yourself or the guy spotting for you an unplanned shower.

    Looking back, what is the single most influential/greatest/useful lesson/thing you learned at Carleton? 
    The greatest gift of Carleton for me was the relationship with the faculty:  Dan Sullivan, Paul Riesman, Loren Haskins, Frank Wolf, Tim Lloyd and their families—as well as many others were wonderfully hospitable to me.  They taught me a lot, not only about their subjects but also about what it is to be a teacher.  This modeling has meant more to me—over the long term—than any specific thing I learned in the classes themselves.

    What is different about Carleton now compared to when you attended Carleton? 
    I would not presume to speak with authority on this.  I attended Carleton in a post 60s era when people like Paul Wellstone were fixtures on campus.  That spirit has dissipated now.  I caught trout in a little stream within walking distance of campus and I fear that would not happen now.  But for whatever feeling of nostalgia I might be able to summon for that, I love the greater sense of openness and diversity that has come to the land of “Cows, Colleges, and Contentment.”   Having an Indian restaurant within walking distance of campus is one small indication of the change. 

    What was your major and how does it relate to where you are now? 
    I had a double major in soc/anthro and in mathematics.  The way both were approached at Carleton was as a community intellectual endeavor.  The biggest lessons I learned—and the most enduring—concerned the development and nurture of such communities.  Everything I have done, in all of the many places I have served has been an application or further development of this. This was true in the first church I served, in Niagara Falls, New York.  This was true of leadership at Meadville Lombard Theological School where I was first dean.  It was true of guiding research at the University of Chicago and the Alban Institute.  And it is true where I now serve.  In January, a group asked me to assist them with better methods of leadership development for their congregations.  I will structure this workshop for them, not as a lecture in which I tell them how to do it, but as a time for sharing of different groups working on the issue.  I do sometimes use the specific subject matter knowledge I gained at Carleton—I advised someone the other day on choosing a statistically valid sample.  But this is rare.  It is the second level lessons that are constantly useful to me.

    What would you want to hear from Carleton seniors that would get you excited about them/help them find a job? 
    I would love to help Carleton seniors find jobs.  My limitation is that when I read what most are intending to do it seems to me that their aspirations are remote enough from me and from my connections and networks, that I am unsure where I might be helpful.  Anyone wants a free place to stay while going for a job interview in Chicago is welcome to stay with us! Feel free to look me up in the alumni directory.

    How has your Carleton experience set you apart in the job market?   What advice can you give to students currently looking for jobs? 
    I am very hesitant to give advice to students currently looking for jobs.  The current job market is much, much tougher than anything I have ever had to face.  I went to graduate school when grants were relatively abundant and I entered the job market when jobs were definitely abundant.  I can say that in every position for which I have been hired, what has set me apart has been my breadth of perspective and my passion for working with teams composed of members with diverse talents.  Writing this as a skill on a resume can sound empty and trite but it is my experience that when a potential employer senses that you really have this, it is highly appealing.  Technical skills tend to be plentiful and to deteriorate quickly (I learned some FORTRAN at Carleton and how to a punch card reader).  These second level skills tend to be far rarer and endure much longer.

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