The staff of Western Nevada Community College reacted with shock and sadness Thursday on learning of the death of former WNCC president, Dr. James Randolph.
"We didn't know he was that sick," said Anne Hansen, director of marketing and information and former colleague of Randolph. "He was a very private person and never drew attention to himself."
Randolph died in Las Vegas on Thursday after suffering from cancer. He was 58.
Randolph served as president of WNCC from July 1995 to November 1998.
As president, Randolph oversaw expansion of the Carson City campus as well as the addition of a campus in Minden/Gardnerville.
He also led the campaign for a joint-use WNCC high-technology center at Carson High School and the Reynolds Center for Technology.
"Jim Randolph, by his strong leadership, set WNCC on a clear track toward the future," said WNCC president Carol Lucey.
She added that his success was not limited to the physical expansion of the campus.
"In addition to these bricks and mortar successes, Dr. Randolph will be particularly remembered for his devotion to those little things which make individual lives better."
Some of those "little things" are what Dane Apalategui, vice president for finance and administrative services, remembers most about Randolph.
"Many weekends I found him and his wife, Caroline, working at the college, planting flowers or adding special touches to the campus," Apalategui related.
He said Randolph always put others first.
"He bent over backward to make sure that students and classified staff had a voice, along with faculty and administrators," Apalategui said. "He never put himself first."
While president, the college's enrollment climbed steadily, reaching a record-high enrollment of 2,103 full-time students and 5,572 total students.
Hansen said Randolph's genuine interest in the people served by WNCC was apparent.
"He truly cared about our students," she said.
He was also down-to-earth with the students.
"Frequently, he would sit in the evenings with his laptop computer at the college Information Desk and assist students who didn't even realize it was the president they were speaking to," Apalategui said.
During Randolph's tenure, new academic programs were created in construction technologies and golf facilities management, and the college began offering Internet classes and on-line registration.
New degree programs were also initiated in geographic information systems, computing network technician and computer graphic design.
Those who worked with him, however, remember him more for how he was as a leader rather than for what he did.
"He was someone I really admired as a leader and as a person," Hansen said. "Jim Randolph was a very quiet but strong leader. He helped facilitate problem solving in a non-confrontational and respectful manner."
Michelle Dondero, vice president of academic and student affairs, remembered him as "a gentleman and a scholar."
"He was a good leader and a good man," she said. "Jim was a dynamic, effective leader who gave others opportunities and shied away from the limelight himself."
Randolph left WNCC in 1998 to take a post with the University and Community College System of Nevada in Las Vegas, as associate vice chancellor for finance and planning.
Randolph is survived by his wife Caroline, sons Chad and Adam and father, Carl.
Services will be held Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. at the Wilkesboro United Methodist Church in Wilkesboro, N.C.
The family asked that donations be made in his name to the Ormsby Association for Retarded Citizens in Carson City or the Opportunity Village in Las Vegas.
Randolph will long be remembered by those who worked with and knew him.
"You can't say enough about him," Apalategui said. "He was just an exceptional person."