Incoming RCC president put new jobs on radar

Shah Ardalan is RCC’s new president. 

ASHEBORO – Dr. Shah Ardalan has been looking for a new venture in education and he found it with Randolph Community College.

He was named as the seventh president of the school earlier this month.

Ardalan will come from Lone Star College-University Park in Houston. He has been president there since 2012.

But RCC wasn’t his only potential destination. Ardalan has been a finalist for at least two other college presidencies the past several years, including a candidate for a similar position in Wisconsin this spring.

About a week prior to visiting Asheboro for the RCC interview process and tour in April, Ardalan was among three finalists for the presidency of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. That job went to Dr. Kristen Raney, who has been Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges.

Ardalan also was exploring other opportunities to leave LSC-University Park. In November 2020, he was identified as one of four finalists for the presidency at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla.

Ardalan has been involved in LSC-University since its infancy. In December, LSC-University Park celebrated its 10th anniversary.

“We are honored and proud of how our community leaders showed their unwavering support of Lone Star College-University Park,” Ardalan said amid the celebration. “This is the only college in the country built on an open Invitation to Innovate (i2i), which transformed the property into this community’s college.”

That 10-year mark came with quite a bit of fanfare.

“Congratulations to Lone Star College-University Park on achieving this significant milestone,” said Stephen C. Head, Lone Star College chancellor. “Since its beginning, this campus has laid the groundwork to transform higher education by taking a fresh look at how to best serve its students.”

At the time, Ardalan said “and the best is yet to come.” Now, he won’t be directly part of the next phase in Houston.

Even though its enrollment dropped from 11,201 to 10,416 from last spring to this spring, LSC-University Park is considerably larger than RCC – or about five times bigger in terms of enrollment. LSC-University Park offers 57 degrees and certificates.

Ardalan has been involved in a wide range of endeavors in the educational field. He has been on the Board of Trustees of the College Board, a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. That four-year term on the 31-member board runs through 2024. He was one of two board members from Texas when he took the post.

“It is an honor to serve such an esteemed organization as the College Board, which plays a pivotal role in creating pathways for students to pursue higher education,” Ardalan said.

Ardalan was selected among four finalists who visited RCC last month.

In a statement from RCC, Reynolds Lisk, board vice chair and chair of the presidential search committee, said: “The RCC Presidential search has been a long and arduous process. I sincerely believe that our efforts were all worthwhile with the hiring of Dr. Shah Ardalan. … Most importantly though, his passion for student success and empowering his staff and faculty is what makes him the right fit for Randolph Community College.”

Ardalan holds a doctorate in Community College Leadership from the John Roueche Graduate Center at National American University in Austin, Texas. He earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T and received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from UNC Greensboro.

Ardalan’s hiring came with several endorsements. Jay Box, chief leadership innovation officer at Higher Education Innovation, said that Ardalan “is an excellent leader who will continue the tradition of excellence at RCC.”

Gordon Freedman, who advises clients into higher education markets, said Ardalan “built and operated one of the most responsive, responsible and economically-engaged community college campuses in the U.S.”

Executive Leadership Associates served as consultants in the hiring process. ELA received more than 80 applications for the position, according to information from RCC.

By Bob Sutton