Paydar first joined IUPUI in 1985 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the School of Engineering and Technology. From 1989 to 2003 he held a number of positions in the school, including chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, associate dean for graduate programs, associate dean for academic programs, and executive associate dean. In 2004 he became vice chancellor and dean of Indiana University–Purdue University Columbus, a position he held for three years.
Paydar was appointed chancellor of Indiana University East in 2007, serving in that role until he returned to IUPUI in 2012. As a result of the strategic planning process he led at IU East, enrollment increased by 87 percent, the first-year retention rate improved markedly, and graduation rates increased substantially. He also worked with community stakeholders and the campus community to enhance university facilities, revitalize the campus’s image and fundraising, and improve faculty and staff morale and campus pride.