Cecil Eugene Evans, education advocate and university president, was born on January 21, 1871, at Bowdon, Georgia, the son of Hiram Martin and Georgia (Striplin) Evans. He was educated at Oxford College, Alabama, where he took a B.A. degree in 1888. He received an M.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1906, and in recognition of his work as an educator Southwestern University conferred on him an honorary LL.D. in 1923. Evans taught in Alabama schools from 1889 to 1893, then moved to Texas in 1894 to teach at Mexia. He was superintendent of the public school at Anson from 1895 to 1902, at Merkel from 1902 to 1905, and at Abilene from 1906 to 1908. From 1908 to 1911 he served as general agent for the Conference on Education in Texas, successfully conducting campaigns to secure three school amendments to the Texas Constitution. In addition, he was largely responsible for legislation designed to improve the public schools and teacher training. From 1917 to 1927 Evans served as a member of the Texas Textbook Board. His book The Story of Texas Schools (1955) is a volume on historical development of the public and private educational system of the state.
Evans went to Southwest Texas Normal School (now Southwest Texas State University) at San Marcos in 1911 as its second president. During his thirty-one years in this office, Southwest Texas added two years of college work to the curriculum, then a full college course accredited by the American Association of Colleges, and finally a graduate program awarding master's degrees. The college plant expanded from an original eleven acres to more than double that size, and from a three-building institution to fifteen classroom and administration buildings, eight dormitories and cooperative houses, a forty-acre farm, a swimming pool, and a park. Enrollment expanded from 600 to 1,600 students. Evans retired in 1942, at which time Lyndon Baines Johnson (at one time secretary to Evans) came from Washington to speak at the ceremony.
Evans was a Democrat, a Methodist, a member of the National Education Association, and a trustee of Southwestern University. He was married to Allie Maxwell in Anson on May 18, 1899; they were the parents of one daughter. Evans died on August 23, 1958, and was buried at San Marcos.