Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart resigns as AC president

Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart resigned today after nine highly successful years as president of Amarillo College. His letter of resignation is effective Sept. 30, after which he plans to move into a new role as chancellor of the Austin Community College District.

“Leading Amarillo College these many years has been my greatest personal honor,” an emotional Lowery-Hart said. “AC will be forever locked in my heart.”

Lowery-Hart, who became AC president in 2014, capped his tenure at the helm by spearheading the College’s accession to the pinnacle of national prominence: AC won the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

AC’s Board of Regents, albeit with some reluctance because they are saddened to see him leave, unanimously accepted Lowery-Hart’s resignation at a special midday meeting.

“We absolutely hate to lose Russell, but we wholeheartedly congratulate him and wish him and his family the very best moving forward,” said Anette Carlisle, chair of AC’s Board of Regents. “It’s thanks to his incredible and transformative leadership that AC is the number one community college in the nation.

"It is no wonder he was courted by others,” she said. “I have known Russell for a very long time, and I believe Austin Community College could not have made a better choice for their next chancellor.”

Carlisle also said she will soon appoint a search committee to commence a national search for AC’s next president, and that the College will ask the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program to help AC establish a set of characteristics the next president should possess.

Fortunately, Lowery-Hart’s departure is not imminent; he will continue to serve as president of the nation’s best community college through Sept. 30, and an interim president has already been selected to lead AC immediately thereafter.

In July, when Lowery-Hart was named sole finalist for the Austin chancellorship, AC’s Board of Regents proactively appointed Skinner, AC’s vice president of student affairs, to serve as interim president, if and when it became necessary.

In accepting Lowery-Hart’s resignation, the Regents stipulated that Skinner’s interim duties will commence on Oct. 1. Up until that point in time, Lowery-Hart will work closely with Skinner to ensure a smooth transition.

Leading AC to the 2023 Aspen Prize is his signature achievement, to be sure, but in nine years as the president of AC, Lowery-Hart has endorsed numerous initiatives that have garnered resounding statewide and national acclaim. The College’s venerable body of work under his watch is wide-ranging and includes, among many other achievements, improved completion rates – from 19 percent in 2014 to 60 percent in 2022; dramatic increases in labor-market outcomes; reaccreditation with zero recommendations – a rarity; widespread physical renovations; and even receipt of a $15 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

“I believe the people who serve this College, from bottom to top, are the very best at what they do,” Lowery-Hart said. “The future is extremely bright for Amarillo College and its success, its excellence, will never hinge on any one individual, not even the president.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the way this College loves its students to success and selflessly serves this community will continue to be the envy of community college communities from coast to coast – not only short term, but a very great distance into the future.”

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