Dave Rogers

For The Record

Lamar State College-Orange won’t be the same without Dr. Mike Shahan.

With Shahan announcing his plans to retire after nearly 24 years as president in August, it means Jack Smith, president of the fund-raising LSCO Foundation, will no longer be able to go to the college’s official functions and tease Shahan about his favorite football team.

“My only complaint about Mike is he’s a damn Sooner. He is a big OU fan. He goes to all the [Oklahoma University] games.

“We laugh about it,” said Smith, a University of Texas season-ticket holder who goes to every Longhorn football game.

Shahan, who progressed from history teacher to vice president at Lamar-Port Arthur before taking the top job in Orange in 1994, is LSCO’s third president, following Joe Ben Welch and Steve Maradian.

During his tenure, the campus grew in enrollment, scope, structure and size.

In 1997, he and his team developed and implemented a campus master plan that was the start of the campus’ physical growth with the Ron E. Lewis Library, the Allied Health Building and the renovation of the Wilson Building.

Those new facilities were accompanied by new programs, including pharmacy technology, dental assisting, and process operating.

More recently, Shahan has overseen the addition of the Nursing Classroom Building and the Cypress Center as well as a maritime and welding program.

“When I started here we didn’t have a lawnmower because we didn’t have any grass on campus. We only had a weed eater,” Shahan said.

“There was one classroom building, the student center, and a library housed in what is now the Wilson Building. We had one paved parking lot. The rest was shell with telephone poles as the markers for the parking spots.”

As a longtime Foundation board member who took over as chair after last year’s death of Carlton “Corky” Harmon, Smith measures LSCO’s success in something besides classrooms and parking lots.

“He’s done an excellent job,” Smith said. “Just look where the school was when he came and where it is now. We’ve got a great school here.

“The Foundation went from $300,000 [in the bank] to $5 million while he was there, too. Job well done.”

It is anticipated that a new president will be named in the Spring 2018 semester.

The Texas State University System, of which LSCO is a member, announced last Friday that Chancellor Brian McCall and Board of Regents Chair Rossanna Salazar will appoint an advisory committee to assist in the search.

That committee will be comprised of faculty, staff, students, members of the public and representatives of the TSUS Board of Regents.

In addition to the advisory committee, John Hayek, TSUS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, will meet with key stakeholders on campus in the next couple of weeks to develop a list of attributes desired in the next president.

The advisory committee will work with an executive search firm to conduct a national search aimed at identifying three or four candidates to interview with McCall.

The chancellor will name a sole finalist and recommend he or she for confirmation by the Board at its May meeting.

McCall called Shahan “a great college president and a good friend to all of us at the Texas State University System.

“Lamar State College-Orange’s growth and improvement — not to mention its resilience and success through several hurricanes — would not have been possible without Mike’s effective leadership,” McCall said. “I want thank Mike for a job well done and wish him and his wife, Bridget, the very best in retirement.”

Shahan announced his retirement to faculty at the Fall 2018 Convocation late last week.

“I’ve got mixed emotions about this,” Shahan said. “I’m excited about retirement, but I’m so very sad to leave LSC-O.

“Serving as president of Lamar Orange for the past 23 years has been an honor and privilege,” Shahan said. “I am proud of this institution and what we have accomplished together.”

Shahan said his retirement will allow Lamar Orange to benefit from new ideas, new dreams, and new ways to adapt.

“It is time to move aside and let new leadership prevail,” Shahan said.

“I am confident that the Chancellor and the Board of Regents will find a successor who can take LSCO to new heights.”

Smith sounded more hopeful than confident that Shahan’s retirement will be more successful.

“I just hope they can find somebody that’s a good successor and will do as good a job,” Smith said.

“We’ve been very fortunate. We’ll miss him.”