November 2021 Update: Evelyn was called to rest on Nov. 9, 2021, at the age of 89. She served as an employee at Concordia for more than 50 years prior to her retirement in 1998.

Ask anyone who knows Evelyn Hutchins and they’d tell you there isn’t a better person to run into on your worst day. Evelyn, a beloved former employee of Concordia, has an ability to make everyone she encounters feel valued and uplifted.

Morgan Van Thiel (’18) recognizes the gift it was then, that on her lowest of days at Concordia, she somehow had a knack for bumping into Evelyn in the hallway. With red, puffy eyes and tears streaming down her face, Van Thiel would lean into Evelyn’s warm embrace and soak in the relief of having someone demonstrate they truly cared.

Evelyn didn’t know that Van Thiel was struggling with undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder at the time. She treated everyone at Concordia with the same measure of Christian care that she extended to Van Thiel.

After nearly 32 years of working in housekeeping for Concordia, Evelyn retired in 1998. She continued to make her home at Concordia even after retirement, working part-time until 2017, when health concerns forced her into a retirement home. Her impact has been felt by decades of Concordians, said Anne Spahr, PhD, a licensed psychologist and a full-time counselor in Concordia’s Counseling Center. That’s why the decision was made to name Concordia’s new SMART Lab after her.

RELATED: Around-the-clock support—Concordia’s SMART Lab named after Evelyn Hutchins

The SMART Lab is housed in the last room Evelyn used as her office.

“Everybody loved Evelyn, and she viewed Concordia as her family,” Spahr said. “Students and employees regularly sought her out for conversation and advice, and she was probably the best anxiety cure Concordia had. Given her long history with the school and her loving ability to care for students, we thought it only fitting to name the new lab in her honor.”

Learn more

For the latest information on the CUW Counseling Center and other mental health resources available to students, click here.

This story first appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin. The fall 2019 Concordian hit mailboxes the end of September. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333. 

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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