Learn more about President Nicholas Ladany

President Nick Ladany

President Nick Ladany and First Lady Randa El Jurdi
President Nick Ladany and First Lady Randa El Jurdi

Nicholas Ladany, PhD was unanimously elected to serve as the 17th President of Oglethorpe University, effective July 1, 2020. Starting his presidency near the onset of the pandemic, Ladany led and continues to lead the university through unprecedented challenges. Undaunted, he reflects Oglethorpe’s motto Nescit Cedere – those who do not know how to give up – matching in full measure the resilience, perseverance, and outstanding character of the Oglethorpe community: its students, faculty, staff, parents, board members, alumni, and friends.

Ladany is focused on developing a culture of innovation and creativity while concurrently maintaining traditions. The collaborative, interdisciplinary nature of Oglethorpe lends itself to this progress, catalyzed by several of Ladany’s priorities to elevate the University.

Expansion through inclusion

Among the first priorities to emerge was to strengthen the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Ladany is no stranger to creating positive change in this area. In his previous roles as Dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and Associate Provost at the University of San Diego, he increased diversity of faculty, dean’s office staff, and students and implemented multiple diversity initiatives.

To every decision, Ladany applies a focus on diversity and inclusion, and seeks to promote representation and justice. In his first year, he established the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce, charged with examining areas for growth and determining the steps to take Oglethorpe forward.

The DEI Taskforce is just one avenue through which Ladany increases empathy and understanding. Those very qualities are core to his character and Oglethorpe’s. Consequently, these qualities are expressed in action on campus through University-sponsored DEI panel discussions, in civic conversations on equity in the community, and by establishing Oglethorpe’s new role of Vice President for DEI.

Defining and enhancing success, one student at a time

Given the retention and graduation challenges in higher education, Ladany identified enhancing student success as a strategic priority early on. Progress is already apparent through the creation of the Student Success Task Force (SSTF) and identifying 24 factors to strengthen that will enhance student success. Under Ladany’s guidance, the SSTF’s accomplishments include:

  • A search for an inaugural Dean of Student Success
  • Developing stand-by lists to assist students in registering for needed classes
  • Securing and implementing a software system to identify, monitor, and offer points of intervention related to student retention and graduation

While Ladany’s commitment to enhancing student success might be measured through initiatives, committees, and programs, it is a measure of his personal commitment as well. In his first year, he established the President’s Student Leadership Council, which consists of nine first- to third-year students with whom he meets monthly. It’s a forum for understanding their perspectives and identifying successes as well as areas to improve upon – and developing solutions as emerging leaders.

Governance begetting growth

While he gives voice to Oglethorpe, Ladany understands that every voice in our community matters. Accordingly, he ensures that staff, faculty, and students are heard and have opportunities to contribute. One such expression is Ladany’s commitment to shared governance and collaboration with all stakeholders as he leads the development and execution of Oglethorpe’s strategic plan, an area in which he has deep experience.

Throughout his time at Oglethorpe, Ladany has seized opportunities for faculty input and shared governance, which has found form through the creation of the Provost’s Council, regular individual and group meetings between the Provost and Division Chairs and expanding the President’s Cabinet.

His experience with innovative practices in teaching and learning – including project-based learning, design thinking, interdisciplinary programs, virtual reality, employer-college partnerships, and global education – are all contributing to the university’s future. 

A solid, yet adaptable, infrastructure

Persistence has always been core to Oglethorpe’s character, and that informs its President’s belief that the University’s future is indeed bright. With an eye on the horizon and an understanding of the present, Ladany believes that now is the time to innovate and prepare for the future of higher education. This demands investments in people and key strategies.

Beyond campus and through internships and work opportunities, Oglethorpe has strong ties with companies in Atlanta – a truly international business hub. Ladany continues to strengthen and grow these relationships, and Oglethorpe’s infrastructure in parallel. He also recognizes Oglethorpe’s agency to create positive change in Atlanta, in Georgia, and beyond. He is leading the University’s engagement with critical issues in the classroom and in our community, enabling Oglethorpe to be part of that change.

Through such concrete actions, Ladany is promoting a more equitable environment among Oglethorpe’s 1,450+ students, throughout Atlanta’s close to 6 million citizens, and beyond. In so doing, the world is beginning to recognize Oglethorpe neither as an insular nor exclusive entity, but rather as an inclusive and expansive catalyst for progress.

Learned, but still learning

Ladany received his PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York after earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He furthered his higher education professional development acumen through earning certificates of both the Harvard University Graduate School of Education Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and the Management Development Program. Ladany is a Fellow of the Society of Counseling Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association.

Ladany is an internationally known scholar and educator. He has taught, lectured, and presented in 20 countries, from Turkey to Taiwan, Uruguay to the UAE. The author of six books and more than 80 publications, he has given 250+ national and international presentations on the topics of mental health supervision and training; diversity, inclusion, and social justice; and higher education leadership.

His recent article, “The Next Pivot for Successful Liberal Arts Colleges: The 2020’s,” is indicative of his forward-looking vantage point, formed from his past experiences and positioning him to help Oglethorpe make progress against the tumultuous landscape of higher education today.

As an administrator

An administrator with a proven record of success, Ladany has decades of experience as a teacher and scholar who places a strong value on the liberal arts. Ladany oversaw 30 academic departments and programs while at the University of San Diego. He developed and funded a second campus location at Santa Clara University, focusing on preparing teachers to work in under-served Latinx communities. He also served as Professor and Director of the Counseling Program at Loyola Marymount University and held multiple teaching and administrative roles at Lehigh University.

Ladany’s other experiences serve as a catalyst for progress. His leadership includes stemming fiscal deficits then building surpluses, strategically investing resources in key initiatives. Applying new and strategic data analytic approaches, he has improved enrollment management – from prospects to alumni.

Professional alignment, personal motivation

Ladany feels a connection to Oglethorpe’s student body – not only because he, too, seeks to make a difference in the world, but also because of his background. He is the child of an immigrant family and, like nearly 40% of Oglethorpe students, was the first in his family to attend college.

Ladany is married to Randa El Jurdi, and they have three adult daughters.

Ladany is tremendously optimistic about the University’s future and remains committed to bringing into being a brighter tomorrow through his service as Oglethorpe’s President.

President Nicholas Ladany on Creativity

President Ladany on Diversity and Inclusion

President Ladany on Shared Governance