Campus Closeup: Alan McEvoy
As a sociologist and educator, Alan McEvoy focuses on problems related to violence and injustice. These include rape, child abuse, domestic violence, gangs, bullying and youth suicide. He is especially concerned with helping victims heal and supporting schools and community organizations in their violence prevention efforts. It is important work, to be sure, but dealing regularly with people who’ve been traumatized can be emotionally draining. He achieves a positive balance in his life through teaching and photography.
“I love the dynamics of the classroom and consider it sacred space,” says McEvoy, who joined NMU last summer as the head of the Sociology and Social Work Department. “My mission is to plant seeds that may bring about change, even if I don’t see them come to fruition, and to help students find their place in the world.
“I also love photography as an art form. Being in the moment and capturing an image that reveals a deeper essence is a perfection that, for me, counters the horrible situations stemming from the imperfections in our world.”
A self-taught photographer, McEvoy’s work has been featured in numerous shows and publications. Three large, framed images are displayed on his office walls: “Sacred Fire” (above) captures a lightning strike; “Chaos and Quietude” (right) depicts the swirling waves of the Irish Sea; and “Journey Ahead” (below) is a mosaic-like treatment of a scenic roadway in the Scottish Highlands. McEvoy’s subjects include people, abstracts and landscapes. He finds plenty of inspiration for the latter in the Upper Peninsula.
“It’s amazing what this area has to offer. I feel especially connected through nature. It has a transporting power that is both inimitable, or defying imitation, and ineffable—beyond words. You have to experience it directly to get the full effect. I like the [William] Wordsworth quote: ‘From nature doth emotion come and moods of calmness are nature’s gift.”
The Grand Rapids native was familiar with the Upper Peninsula from previous hiking trips and eager to return to his home state after teaching for years at Wittenberg University in Ohio.
“It wasn’t just the location that appealed to me, but the people and the university. Northern is recognized by Carnegie for its community engagement, which is consistent with my commitment to community service. I’m fortunate to be in a department whose faculty is equally involved and I would like to build on the personnel and programmatic assets that are in place with the overall goal of being viewed as a center of excellence.”
McEvoy hit the ground running and has a busy winter semester ahead. His February schedule includes a keynote address on teachers who bully students at the Alternatives to Expulsion, Suspension and Dropping Out of School Conference in Orlando in February. He also anticipates the release of his e-book titled “Toxic Romance: Guide for Young Women Involved with the Wrong Men.” McEvoy will give an April presentation on workplace violence at the Michigan Rural Health Conference.
Aside from photography, McEvoy spends his free time serving on the board of directors of the Women’s Center, watching films, reading, occasionally sampling microbrew beers with friends, and staying connected with his two college-age children. He enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and golf. McEvoy jokes, “I took up golf relatively late in life. I guess I decided my life wasn’t frustrating enough.”