EDITORIAL: Goodbye stranger, goodbye friend

From left to right, Lori Merriman, executive secretary, AC President Dr. Paul Matney and Brenda Sadler, executive assistant to the president, attend a 2009 board of regents meeting announcing Matney’s hiring as president.

Well, we made it to finals. After eight more days of last-minute studying, anxiously cursing an overloaded Blackboard and furiously grading hundreds of late assignments that finally were submitted, all of us will realize there’s nothing more we can do and collectively breathe a sigh of relief.

Students and teachers will prepare to leave, some only for a few days or for the summer, others for much longer and maybe forever.

Even those of us who plan to return are facing the same goodbyes as our best friends prepare to head off to a four-year school, join the work force or ease into retirement.

Of all the reasons, the last has hit many of us at The Ranger the hardest. Dr. Paul Matney will retire this summer after serving as the 13th Amarillo College president.

As hard as it is to fathom an AC without him, it’s even harder to imagine that any of you don’t know or haven’t met Dr. Matney.

Besides being one of the most approachable people on campus, he is involved in numerous ways throughout the community and attends almost every major campus event. He’s on a first-name basis not just with employees, but with countless students.

For some Matney is a stranger, but to many he is a mentor, a confidante, a supporter and a leader.

His everyday habits and his approach to his presidency are one-of-a-kind. Where others might have worn the title loudly and intimidatingly, expecting service for the station, Dr. Matney has done the opposite.

He’s given selflessly of his time, with his main concern as president being to ensure that students are getting the most bang for their buck and that faculty and staff have the means to give it to them. If anyone deserves to be called a students’ president, it’s him.

Along with then-president Dr. Steven Jones, he was instrumental in orchestrating the passage of the 2007 bond election. Thanks to his efforts, each of the six AC campuses has undergone significant renovations and technological upgrades.

He was active in the capital campaign in Hereford that helped fund the creation of a brand-new location, the Hinkson Memorial Campus.

Thank you, Dr. Matney.

Thank you for believing in our department and all the others at AC. Thank you for your support in all our efforts to be the voice of the campus. Thank you for realizing the importance of that voice and always being willing to help us get the information we needed, regardless of the story.

Thank you for your friendship.

As we rush to reach May 16, we realize it’s an ending not just for our favorite president, but also for the rest of us. As the final day nears, some of us will wonder if there was anything we should have done better or anything we might have missed.

We’ll look back on memories, some fondly, some with regret, and maybe, wish we had more time.

We should instead be looking forward. Endings always lead to new beginnings. We all know that. And yet, we still ask: What now?

The answer is ANYTHING. Take time to relax. Go to the gym. Paint a picture. Read that book that’s been on your nightstand for weeks or months.

Take a road trip.

Make plans for your next semester.

This is your beginning. Quit worrying about the past.

We’re all starting a new phase of our lives. Regardless of what it is, we need to use the time spent and lessons learned in and outside the classroom at AC to make this new beginning the best one yet.

For those of us staying, now is the time to reflect on the past semester or two, determine what we could have done better and then do it in the fall (or summer, if that’s your style).

The great thing about school is that you get a fresh slate every time one semester ends and another begins. Take advantage of it.

Those of you leaving: Know that you will be missed.

Whether you’re a lab partner, a fellow traveler or a classmate, know that the impact you’ve made on all our lives never will be forgotten.

Just like Dr. Matney, you are what makes AC great.

This institution would not be what it is if it were not for everyone of us in it.

We all are key pieces that complete the puzzle.

Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the tears. Thank you for the patience and frustration, even the stress and the silliness.

If you falter and need a guide, look to the example Dr. Matney has set and strive to be as awesome as he has been. AC and the rest of the world could use more Matneys.

If you do leave AC, don’t forget the college and the people who have made an impact on your life and who have changed you for the better.

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