Randal Lawson, executive vice president and chief instructional officer at Santa Monica College, died suddenly on Aug. 19, college officials reported this week. He was 66.

Lawson began his teaching career at SMC in 1979 in the school’s music department and later became the first coordinator of the school’s arts mentor program. In 1987, he was elected president of the school’s Academic Senate and served on the educational policies committee of the statewide Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. Lawson also served as SMC’s vice president of academic affairs and in several other administrative positions before rising to the top instructional post.

“The impact that Randy had on Santa Monica College as well as the statewide system of community colleges and all of the students we serve cannot be overstated,” said SMC Superintendent/President Chui L. Tsang. “But it is not only his professional leadership and accomplishments that engendered our admiration and respect. Randy was a mentor and adviser to so many members of the college community. He was an excellent listener who always expressed care for others and the concerns that were brought to him.”

College officials are planning a memorial event and have set up a memory book in the SMC Office of Academic Affairs.

Lawson is survived by sister Regina Yates, brother-in-law Howard Yates, and nephew Tyler. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to a scholarship in Lawson’s name in care of the Santa Monica College Foundation, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 90405.