Students react to presidential change
By Heather Shortell
and Julie Langley
After more than 30 years of teaching and six years as president of Amarillo College, Dr. Paul Matney announced his retirement this summer.
Only a handful of students knew Matney had retired, and many didn’t realize AC had a new leader: Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart.
“I didn’t know that AC got a new president … I didn’t even know the president retired,” said Stephanie Smyrl, a vocal performance major.
Other students knew of the change but still didn’t know who replaced Matney.
“I knew that Amarillo College got a new president, but I couldn’t tell you his name or anything,” said Brittany Kelley, a nursing major.
Though there are some differences between the 13th and 14th president, both have degrees in communication and media.
Matney attended the University of Texas and graduated with honors in journalism. He earned a master’s degree from West Texas State University, where he then was employed at as an instructor and director of radio and television.
His successor, Lowery-Hart, was the AC vice president of academic affairs.
He holds a Ph.D. from Ohio University, a bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M University and a master’s from Texas Tech University. Lowery-Hart also served as editor of the WTAMU student newspaper.
While Matney will be able to spend more time with his wife, Sandy, their three daughters and two grandchildren, Lowery-Hart is busy settling into a new office after the board of regents appointed him Aug. 26.
At one point, there were three finalists for the job, including a vice president of academic affairs at a college in Tulsa and a chancellor of an online institution.
Lowery-Hart was declared the lone finalist about a month before his appointment after the others withdrew from consideration.
The regents gave Lowery-Hart a three-year contract, a car allowance and a first-year salary of $180,000.
Students have given some tips and advice for Lowery-Hart as the new president.
“I’d look into a bigger parking lot, because parking is horrible,” said Derek Lopez, a human behavior major.
Others are just thankful for the skill and experience the new president possesses.
“I am personally satisfied that he was chosen because his past experience as vice president will have groomed him for the new position through his existing ties with the school,” said Shelbi Haisten, a radiography major.
“Also, anyone who is unanimously selected by a committee consisting of faculty, regents and students obviously has the college’s best interests in mind and will strive to keep our academic reputation intact.”
Whether they are freshmen just starting at AC or in their second year, students will be hearing the name Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart a lot in the coming years.
“I am happy with the decision, and I know Dr. Lowery-Hart will get the job done,” said Christian Loter, a graphic design major.