Near the end of the spring 2014 semester, the hunt for a new Amarillo College president began. As the summer progressed, the board of regents was joined by faculty members and one student as they searched for the perfect fit.
On Aug. 26, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart was chosen to lead the college as its 14th president.
Formerly vice president of academic affairs, Lowery-Hart already is fondly familiar with AC. But there still are some changes. One of the biggest is tackling issues that affect the entire college.
“I have to advocate for the college as a whole and learn about and meet the people in every division, not just academic affairs,” Lowery-Hart said.
With that in mind, Lowery-Hart said he plans to implement a “culture of commitment and caring” in which each student has an intentional plan from the moment he or she shows interest in AC to the moment he or she graduates or transfers.
Having a strong support system is a key to the success not only of students, he said, but the institution as a whole.
By showing students that Amarillo College is committed to their learning and growing, Lowery-Hart said he believes stu- dents will have a strong sense of belonging and will commit to themselves.
It’s a belief he wants the rest of the college to embrace.
“AC is the solution to change the direction of the community,” he said.
Many on campus are celebrating Lowery-Hart’s fresh presidency.
“I am very excited, and I feel so blessed to be able to work with him,” said Lori Merriman, an executive secretary in the President’s Office.
Those who have known him in his for- mer position also expressed enthusiasm at having him as president.
“He has a great heart for the students,” said Joy Brenneman, Lowery-Hart’s for- mer assistant in academic affairs.
Lowery-Hart said his decision to bid for the position happened as he was walk- ing through the campus and was met by a student.
She stopped him and another faculty member and told them she had been driv- ing around the campus for months, just looking at it. She finally got the courage to find out more.
They immediately dropped what they were doing, took her to the Advising Center and helped her through the appli- cation process.
“How many other kids are just driving around?” Lowery-Hart asked. He said he wants to reach out and make the college accessible to students just like that.
Within the next six years, he plans for AC to be designated as a Leader College among 74 other top colleges in the nation.
Becoming president is a high point in Lowery-Hart’s career, but he said he also has had his valleys. “I think that every stage of my career has had its yins and yangs.” Lowery-Hart said.
There have been moments where the new president has been at a loss. Lowery- Hart said that when he tries and tries and is unable to meet a student’s needs,
standing failures that leads to success.
Though his position as president may not always be easy, there are some things to enjoy as the new face of AC – things like having a new Badger jingle. Created this year, lyrics of the jingle focus on the idea that AC is an important first step to achieving their dreams.
“I think it’s ingenious. I can’t get it out of my head!
“That’s the point of it. It’s what students need to hear, and I think that we should celebrate it.”