Evan Ringquist, an expert in public policy with a passion for living and a commitment to be a force for good in the world, has died at the age of 51.
“It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know Evan Ringquist died after a long battle with cancer,” said Executive Associate Dean David Reingold in a note to faculty and staff at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). “He was a prolific scholar and a meticulous investigator who was always pushing his students to achieve their potential. SPEA, IU and the fields of public policy and management have lost an intellectual leader.”
“SPEA will miss him dearly,” said SPEA Dean John D. Graham. “Evan was a superb scholar and much beloved by his students.”
That affection is evident in these tributes from his students and SPEA faculty colleagues:
“Evan approached everything with a strong sense of integrity, passion, and purpose that suffused his personal and professional life. I am so grateful for the gift of having Evan as a role model, close colleague, and friend, and will deeply miss his strong presence and quick wit. Evan’s brilliance, incredible work ethic, and unrelenting pursuit of excellence left an indelible impression on me and all of SPEA. I admire how purposefully Evan lived his life, and how he connected his intentions with his actions. This sense of purpose was evident always in Evan’s scholarship, teaching, and service, and most endearingly in how he connected with his beloved wife and daughters each day.” (Dr. Ashlyn Nelson, SPEA faculty)
"I felt smarter just standing next to Evan. He had an uncanny ability to gather information and provide an unvarnished analysis on most any situation you could imagine. I guess that is why he was considered a world class policy wonk particularly when it came to environmental policy. I especially enjoyed watching him debate policy. He fought and won with the facts - period. That said, Evan was a gentle man and wonderful friend who truly cared about his colleagues. His passing is such a loss to his friends, the academy and our environment." (Dr. Marc Lame, SPEA faculty)
“Dr. Ringquist was an inspired teacher, the most captivating lecturer I have ever had, and an excellent mentor. It is hard to imagine SPEA as I know it without him.” (Ed Gerrish, SPEA doctoral candidate)
“Dr. Ringquist was a mentor to me during my first several years of my PhD program. He was also my teacher and co-author. He was a remarkable scholar, mentor, teacher and fisherman. He was invested in his students, had a great sense of humor and wore horrible neck ties. I will cherish his mentorship and the characteristics he modeled. Hard work.Clear thinking.Organization.Scientific rigor.and laughter. He wanted all of his students to be great scholars, and pushed me to think as a scientist, to work diligently and to find great joy in my work.” (Shannon Lea Watkins, SPEA doctoral candidate)
“It was only three weeks ago, Dr. Ringquist wrote to me to discuss a time to meet to talk about my dissertation. He sounded excited in the email and talked about working on my dissertation with a great passion asking me to send him the most recent draft of my dissertation proposal. He was not able to make it to the meeting and the sudden news tore my heart apart. I have been Dr. Ringquist’s doctoral student since 2009. He brought me to SPEA and in the past four years, I have been his student, research assistant, and co-author and have shared many exciting moments with him. Studying and working with him has been a great joy and the best experience in my life because his passion and dedication to research and work has inspired me and given me countless motivation. He taught me to be a fine and responsible researcher not through saying but from doing. I remember we would often scratch formulas on a paper and discuss them intensely. His eyes would widely open in those moments. His curiosity about the world, dedication to research and his precision about work is like a fire that inspires me.
“He is not only a role model for my career but he also shows how to be a good person in my life. His deep caring for students, his love to his family and his sense of responsibility to our program and SPEA taught me how to be a person of integrity. He often says I am his first Chinese student and he was excited to learn about China. He always tried to learn about my culture and me. We often met on Friday morning. Each meeting always started with questions about my life, my progress in the program and often about my culture. He is not only an academic adviser but like a father in my life. I felt greatly taken care of as an international student in the program. When he took me to conferences, he often introduced me to his colleagues and other scholars with much pride, because he deeply cared about my career development. I cannot appreciate enough all the things he has done for me like a mentor and like a father.” (Shuang Zhao, SPEA doctoral candidate)
Ringquist joined the SPEA faculty in 2002 after earning an undergraduate degree from Moorhead State University and two masters degrees and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin. In addition to his teaching and research, he served from 2008 until recently as director of SPEA’s Ph.D. program in Public Affairs and Public Policy.
He authored or co-authored three books and numerous articles in his areas of expertise: public policy and policy evaluation; environmental, energy and natural resources policy; research methodology; and state and national politics and political institutions.
One of his most recent projects involved tracking campaign promises made by candidates and whether those promises were carried out once a legislator was elected. Ringquist and two co-authors found that pro-environmental pledges were frequently abandoned by winning candidates. He offered a thought-provoking explanation in the article “Campaign Promises, Democratic Governance, and Environmental Policy in the U.S. Congress” published in the May, 2013 edition of the Policy Studies Journal.
Ringquist was recently named the inaugural recipient of a professorship that honors the memory of Lynton Keith Caldwell, a distinguished and influential scholar in the fields of environmental policy and administration. Caldwell was one of the key catalysts for the founding of SPEA in 1972.
In addition to his research, Ringquist taught hundreds of SPEA students in classes and seminars with titles ranging from “State Politics and Policy” to “International Environmental Policy”. He also served on numerous boards and committees at SPEA and for Indiana University and various professional and academic associations.