After an extensive nationwide search, the Oglethorpe University Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Nicholas Ladany, PhD, as the next President of Oglethorpe University, effective July 1, 2020. Ladany will also serve as a member of the faculty, in the role of Professor of Psychology.
Ladany is currently Dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and Associate Provost for Academic Outreach at the University of San Diego. A leading expert in counseling psychology, he oversees 30 academic departments and programs, including 12 multi-disciplinary research and community partnership institutes and centers, with more than 200 faculty and staff serving over 1,000 students.
Ladany will succeed Lawrence M. Schall, who has served as Oglethorpe University’s president for nearly 15 years. In April 2019, Schall announced that he will step down in June 2020.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire Oglethorpe community, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Nick Ladany as the seventeenth President of this university,” said Tim Tassopoulos ’81, chair of the Oglethorpe University Board of Trustees and president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, Inc. “Dr. Ladany is an outstanding scholar and experienced leader, and is highly regarded for building community while inspiring academic excellence. His leadership will be key to the continuation of the growth and momentum that Oglethorpe is currently experiencing.”
Ladany is an internationally known scholar and educator, having taught, given invited lectures, or presented in countries that include Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Italy, Kuwait, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. The author of six books and more than 80 publications, he has given more than 250 national and international presentations on the topics of mental health supervision and training; diversity, inclusion, and social justice; and higher education leadership. Most recently, he published the article “The Next Pivot for Successful Liberal Arts Colleges: The 2020’s.”
“At Oglethorpe, the culture is about focusing on the whole student, both in academics and life. I’m struck by the work of Oglethorpe’s extraordinary students and deeply engaged faculty and staff,” said Ladany. “It is important to me to serve at an institution whose values I share. The people at Oglethorpe reached my heart.”
Ladany received his PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the Society of Counseling Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association.
Prior to joining the University of San Diego in 2015, Ladany served as the Dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. He previously served as Professor and Director of the Counseling Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, as well as Professor and Chair of the Department of Education and Human Services, and Program Coordinator and Director of Doctoral Training of the Counseling Psychology Program at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Born in Washington, D.C. to an immigrant family, he was the first in his family to attend college, like nearly 40% of Oglethorpe students. This experience shaped his outlook on the role of education in society.
“Education is a gateway to a better quality of life,” expressed Ladany. “As a university, we have privilege and with that, a duty to reach out to underserved populations. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of a liberal arts education.”
Evidence of this commitment can be seen throughout his career. As Dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University, he developed and funded a second campus location focused on preparing teachers to work in under-served Latinx communities.
His life experience and academic training have also influenced how he leads. “A focus on diversity and inclusion is the primary lens through which I make decisions.” He significantly increased the diversity of the faculty, staff and students at both institutions where he served as Dean.
“The diversity work itself begins with a recognition and understanding of the importance of diversity towards enriching a campus environment. I have witnessed that the best pedagogical practices happen when there are diverse students, faculty, and staff, who are committed to a culture of diversity. To that end, it will be an honor to lead and serve as a voice on issues of diversity and inclusion.”
An administrator with a proven record of success, Ladany also brings decades of experience as a teacher and scholar who places a strong value on the liberal arts.
Dr. Leah Zinner, associate professor of psychology and chair of the division of psychology and sociology at Oglethorpe said: “As a faculty member himself, Dr. Ladany has a deep respect for faculty expertise. He also has a track record of using shared governance and transparency to achieve important goals that benefit faculty, staff and students alike.”
She added, “his strong sense of empathy, perhaps honed due to his background as a counseling psychologist, has helped him to listen carefully, understand, and respect the competing needs of various constituents in a university setting. We are thrilled that Dr. Ladany will be Oglethorpe’s next president.”
His commitment to shared governance and collaboration with all stakeholders will be critical as he leads the development of Oglethorpe’s next strategic plan, an area in which he has deep experience. “Throughout any strategic visioning endeavor, collaboration, transparency and adaptability are essential to long-term success,” shared Ladany. “I work diligently to stay informed of evolving stakeholder needs and experiences, as well as market forces, to ensure long-term effectiveness and successful outcomes.”
Ladany anticipates that innovative practices in teaching and learning, including project-based learning, design thinking, interdisciplinary programs, augmented reality, employer-college partnerships, and global education will play a key role in the university’s future. He explains “innovation is key to long-term success and should be explored and undertaken, while at the same time honoring the traditions and core values that have made Oglethorpe a distinctive Atlanta institution.”
Ladany is married to Randa El Jurdi, and together have three adult daughters.
El Jurdi was born in Beirut, Lebanon and graduated from the American University of Beirut with a B.S. in Nursing. She received her master’s degree in Globalization and Educational Change from Lehigh University.
She has worked in a variety of inter-connected professions including as a registered nurse during the Civil War in Lebanon in the 1980s, nursing instructor at the Ministry of Health School of Nursing in the United Arab Emirates, Head of the Science Department of a K-12 an international school, and an educational consultant with Pearson Education. Most recently, she worked as a study abroad advisor at Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University. She is strongly committed to diversity and inclusion, particularly in the areas of women’s rights, racial equality and civil rights, and LGBTQ advocacy, and is passionate about international and global issues, having lived in five countries and visited more than 26 countries.
Read more, watch the live announcement, and view video testimonials from students, faculty, and trustees.