The hurricanes came, but still Lamar State College-Orange rebuilt.

That was the general consensus of those who spoke at Michael Shahan’s retirement reception on Tuesday afternoon at the J. Michael and Bridget Shahan Events Center on campus. Those gathered were celebrating his 24 years of service as president to the college.

Gwen Whitehead, vice president of academic affairs, however, said Tuesday was a bittersweet day because the Shahans were leaving.

She recounted his career at LSCO and recalled how 24 years ago the campus was a “rinky-dink little place” with substandard facilities and streets. All of the faculty lived in the academic building.

“The campus has come a long way,” Whitehead said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth on the academic side.”

She added that Shahan never shot her down and he was willing to listen to her “crazy ideas.”

“He was calm in the face of the fire. He offered calm and capable leadership,” she said. “When a storm would come through you know he would take care of us.”

In fact, several others said Shahan’s calm leadership was inspiring.

A video montage was then played in honor of Shahan with faculty and staff saying their goodbyes and congratulations followed by the giving of gifts.

Shahan told the audience he couldn’t thank everyone enough for all they have done for him. He also recognized employees and retirees of LSCO.

“It’s been a really great 24 years,” he said. “Everyone here pitching in makes Lamar State College-Orange a special place. All of you are valuable, all of you are important.”

Shahan said though he gets the credit for rebuilding the campus three times,  gave all of the credit to SpawGlass Construction for their work on campus.

Shahan said on his first day on campus as president on Aug. 15, 1994, he didn’t know what he was doing. Tom Sanders, former LSCO president, said to tell his  people a joke. That broke the ice.

“Everyday I try to have a good time,” he said.   

The Cypress Center, the newest building on campus, was renamed last month as the J. Michael and Bridget Shahan Events Center for their service to the college.Local and state dignitaries along with officials from the Texas State University System were attendance in honor of Shahan who will be soon retiring.

Since then, Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall, named Thomas A. Johnson, the sole finalist in the LSCO presidential search on July 27.

Johnson, currently assistant vice president of student affairs at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, was chosen from a field of more than 30 candidates who applied during a national search.

 The TSUS Board of Regents must confirm Johnson’s appointment after a 21-day waiting period required by state law. If confirmed, Johnson is expected to assume the presidency by Sept 1.