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With new leadership, RCC opens 61st school year

Photo of a person speaking at a podium on a stage, while people on the stage are sitting.
Randolph Community College President Dr. Shah Ardalan speaks to faculty, staff, and Board members at the College’s annual Fall Convocation, held Friday, Aug. 11, in the R. Alton Cox Learning Resources Center Auditorium on the Asheboro Campus.

The Asheboro Campus of Randolph Community College was buzzing with excitement Friday, Aug. 11, as the entire college community came together for RCC’s annual Fall Convocation. The event kicked off the College’s 61st school year and was marked by the debut of President Dr. Shah Ardalan, RCC’s seventh leader. Prior to the convocation, a breakfast meet and greet with President Ardalan was hosted at the Armadillo Café, bringing together the College’s dedicated faculty and staff, and setting the tone for the academic year ahead. Students returned to campus Tuesday, Aug. 15, with the start of RCC’s Fall Semester as the College is seeing a growth in enrollment post-pandemic.

Newly-elected Board Chair Reynolds Lisk thanks the RCC community for all their hard work.

Ardalan opened the convocation in the R. Alton Cox Learning Resources Center Auditorium, welcoming all in attendance before introducing newly-elected Board of Trustees Chair Reynolds Lisk.

“What an exciting time at RCC,” Lisk said, proceeding to look back over the last three-and-a-half years which included the Covid pandemic, Toyota building a battery manufacturing plant on the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, and the retirement of Dr. Robert S. Shackleford Jr. after 15 years as president. “To say things have been stressful during that time would be an understatement. On behalf of the Board, I'd like to thank the staff, the faculty, the leadership team, all of you for what you’ve done to continue making this school a force and changing people’s lives.

“It's a new day at RCC. We've got a new leader, and we’re sitting here staring at the greatest economic boom and opportunity that Randolph County has ever had. Randolph Community College stands at the forefront of this. We’ve never had a greater opportunity to carry out our mission of creating opportunities and changing lives as we have today. I want to welcome Dr. [Ardalan] back to North Carolina and to RCC. We look forward to working with you and taking our college to another level.”

Lisk presented his fellow Board members in attendance — Vice Chair James Gouty, Bob Morrison, Lisa Hayworth, Chris Yow, Dr. Cindy Schroder, and Dr. Andy Sykes.

Ardalan introduced the College’s Senior Leadership team — Director of Financial Services Cathy Biby, Vice President for Instructional Services Suzanne Rohrbaugh, Vice President for Workforce Development and Continuing Education Elbert Lassiter, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Shelley Greene, and Vice President for Student Services Chad Williams.


RCC alum and Tourism Marketing Coordinator for the Heart of North Carolina Business Bureau Melody Varner tells the audience about her time at the College.

Student Government Association President Paulina Escobar then spoke, reminiscing about the first time she came to RCC.

“I was late to enroll, and I was stressed,” she said. “Despite the hard amount of paperwork, [Student Services Counselor] Dean Beck helped me and took action.”

One year later, under more relaxed circumstances, Beck told Escobar that he still remembers the first day she came into his office.

"This went straight to my heart because I had forgotten about that day,” she said. “Those words made me realize how much RCC has done for me and is doing every day for students.”

After the College’s vice presidents introduced new faculty and staff, RCC alum and Tourism Marketing Coordinator for the Heart of North Carolina Business Bureau Melody Varner spoke about the role her instructors and her advisor played in her changing career paths at RCC.

Varner changed her major from an Associate Degree in Nursing to Associate in Arts after a discussion with her advisor.

“He helped me walk through my strengths, my passions, what I like to do, and what I needed to do next. It made me feel empowered,” she said. “In every one of my classes, the instructors wanted me to succeed. You are a part of my story to get to where I am today.”

Ardalan then presented some fun facts about the RCC faculty and staff, noting that each RCC employee and each RCC student has a story.


Student Government Association President Paulina Escobar plays “Corazón de Niño/Child’s Heart” by Argentinian composer Raul Di Blasio.

Escobar, a concert pianist, treated the audience to a performance of “Corazón de Niño/Child’s Heart” by Argentinian composer Raul Di Blasio.

“It expresses the feelings of listening to your child’s first heartbeat,” she said to introduce the piece. “The same way I know you all feel about the students’ first education steps, which starts here at RCC.”

When Escobar’s fingers left the piano keys at the end of the piece, she received the first of two standing ovations in the convocation.

Ardalan then gave a presentation in which he urged the RCC community to focus on three words — Relevant, Careers, and Commitment.

“You are in the business of changing lives and making generational changes,” he said. “It is an honor and privilege to be in a position to do that. We have to have the pulse of this community; we cannot be reactive only. There is so much potential here to take RCC to the next level, and we have the power and the will to do it. Someone once said, ‘If the problem is people, then you don’t have a solution.’ From what I can see, in my 31 days — we don’t have a problem because we have the people. Welcome back. I look forward to working with you.”

Ardalan’s words prompted the second standing ovation from the audience.

Randolph Community College (RCC), under the leadership of President Shah Ardalan, is committed to providing relevant career training and education. Affordable degrees and short-term certificate programs start throughout the year, both in person and online. For more information, call 336-633-0200 or visit and expect engaging with the most competent and compassionate team of faculty and staff.

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