Courtesy photo | Dr. Paul Matney
| By PERLA ARELLANO and VANESSA GARCIA |
Amarillo College soon will have a 14th president.
According to an AC press release, Dr. Paul Matney will retire this summer after 35 years with AC. He announced his retirement privately to the board of regents March 25 and publicly Monday.
Matney not only is president of the college but has been a student, instructor, professor and dean, according to the release. He was officially named president by the board in 2009 after serving as acting president since 2008 when the committee moved from then-President Steven Jones.
Leaving AC is not a simple task, Matney said, but he is comfortable and confident in the decision and said he told the board he wanted to retire “gracefully and cheerfully.”
Matney said he will remember the relationships, students, employees and community.
“I love who we are, I love what we stand for and I love what we do,” Matney said. “We help students.”
Student success and completion are among the most critical things Matney said he would like the college to continue. During his administration, AC formed a partnership between Clarendon College and Frank Phillips College through the formation of the Panhandle Community College Connection in an agreement signed 3½ years ago. Matney said the agreement has allowed them to establish a connection stating that they will cooperate more to enhance educational opportunities and compete less.
“The leaderships of those institutions became friends. We trusted each other. We established a relationship and then that led to this agreement,” he said.
Matney said he is proud of the physical improvements AC has made, from the construction of the new Hereford Campus to the addition of the Technical Training Center in Dumas. The projects are the result of a $68 million bond approved in 2007.
Don Nicholson, chairman of the board of regents, has worked with Matney professionally for about 25 years and on the board for six years.
“Dr. Matney has been an outstanding administrator, faculty person and president,” Nicholson said. “I am not saying anything that I can even gauge.”
Nicholson said AC has high marks from the city due to the student success programs and completion rate.
“We represent Amarillo and the Panhandle. It’s a good thing,” Nicholson said.
Among Matney’s several achievements are putting together a good leadership team, Nicholson said, working with the student success program and responding to students’ needs to help them succeed.
Nicholson said a search committee composed of three regents – Dr. Paul Proffer as chairman; Dr. David Woodburn; Michele Fortunato; and Nicholson himself as an ex officio member – has been designed to find a new AC president. Woodburn and Fortunato were on the search committee when AC moved from the late Jones to Matney.
“We wish Dr. Matney well; he is leaving us and the community better,” Nicholson said.
Proffer, a regent who has worked with Matney for about three years, said Matney has made enormous contributions, including new programs such as No Excuses and Achieve the Dream.
“He’s a great voice and a component of AC in our community and around the state,” Proffer said. “Everyone knows him and respects him.”
Proffer said Matney has allowed a variety of students, from high school graduates to single moms to have opportunities and a chance for an education. His greatest achievement, he said, was the insistence to make education formal and available for students.
“I’m really saddened to hear he was leaving. I understand there is a time that they decide their career is over,” Proffer said. “I’m happy for the opportunity for him that is available when he retires.”
Matney said he will take with him fond memories, wonderful relationships and “a sense that this institution is exceptional in serving students and families.” He also praised the staff and students, who he said will be missed. Two of AC’s greatest strengths, Matney said, are the people and the community support.
“It has been a privilege to be an advocate for those students and give them the opportunities they need and deserve,” Matney said.
“The thing I’ve loved more about this job: having the opportunity to tell the AC story in our community,” he said.