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Spring 2022

Charletta Sims Evans: Giving 100% to Support Students

article summary

As associate dean for student affairs, Charletta Sims Evans goes out of her way to cultivate personal relationships that benefit students and the school.

Charletta Sims Evans, MEd, sings Tina Turner’s “You’re Simply the Best” to her 10-year-old son every morning on the way to school.

“He gets upset,” she says with a laugh, but for her, it’s a fun way to constantly remind him that he’s loved and supported.

As associate dean for student affairs, Sims Evans makes sure that students at Gillings know they’re supported, too. She goes out of her way to cultivate relationships with students, giving them her cell phone number and checking in with them proactively and frequently to see how they’re doing. That personal touch often leads to long-term friendships, reflected in the countless invitations Sims Evans receives to former students’ dissertation defenses, weddings and baby showers.

Health policy and management student Julia Nevison, who got to know Sims Evans through her service on the School’s Student Government Association, recalls a time last year when she was feeling busy and overwhelmed. Sims Evans reached out and took her to lunch. “That really meant a lot to me,” Nevison says. “At the end of the day she’s here to support us, 100 percent.”

"I recognized right away that Charletta was a unique, caring, and talented individual; a supportive leader and supervisor; and someone that I could work for, and with, for a long period of time."

— Greg Bocchino, EdD

A Mount Olive, N.C., native, Sims Evans grew up in the nearby small town of Dudley, where her love for music was nurtured by strong family traditions. “I listen to all types of music. My family sings a lot, and I used to sing in church choirs growing up,” says Sims Evans, whose favorite musician is Patsy Cline. “When my family gets together for holidays, we sing.”

In keeping with another family tradition, Sims Evans went to Winston-Salem State University, where her mother, sister, cousins, aunt and uncle attended. After graduation she moved to Maryland, where she was a certified recreational therapist at a mental institution. She earned her master’s degree in counseling and was a public school guidance counselor in Maryland before returning to North Carolina to start her student affairs career in higher education, working at several universities and the N.C. Community College System before joining Gillings in 2011.

Greg Bocchino, EdD, senior executive director of academic advising and student affairs, works closely with Sims Evans to strategically plan events and services for students. When he first interviewed for his job at Gillings more than eight years ago, he knew she was a great leader who would also become a great friend. “I recognized right away that Charletta was a unique, caring, and talented individual; a supportive leader and supervisor; and someone that I could work for, and with, for a long period of time,” he says. “My parents ask me how she’s doing on a weekly basis – she is like family to me.”

In the Office of Student Affairs, Sims Evans leads a team of 22 professionals who offer academic and career counseling, handle student disputes and grievances, advise student organizations, and provide student outreach and recruitment. “She does so much for the School – her whole team does,” Nevison says. “With everything Student Affairs does, they emphasize a team approach. They are all about working together and collaboration.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Student Affairs created Wind Down Wednesdays, a virtual mental fitness series to help students build a toolkit to cope with the pandemic. Nutrition student Serena Hutchinson got to know Sims Evans through the monthly series and has worked with her on the School’s mental health task force and other initiatives. “With any issue that comes up at the School, Charletta’s answer is: ‘None of this matters unless the students’ voice is heard,’” Hutchinson says. “I can’t think of any person who cares more about students than she does.”