The Amarillo College board of regents appointed Mark White executive vice president and general counsel at their meeting Tuesday night. White has served as AC’s chief legal counsel the past four years. His position as executive vice president is a newly created position.
He will coordinate fund-raising and gaining community support for AC as well as still providing AC with legal advice.“Mark White brings with him great passion for the college, strong relationships within the community and a keen business sense,” said AC President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart. “We are fortunate to have him. He will help lead us to a period of growth and transformation.”
White’s new role will begin March 1 with an annual salary of $160,000. According to an AC news release, it would cost AC at least $200,000 a year if his two roles had been filled separately.
The regents also approved a new tobacco policy for the college that states that smoking of any tobacco products and the use of electronic or vapor smoking devices are prohibited on AC property and in buildings and facilities on all campuses and locations, including parking areas, green spaces, and walkways.
The policy will be effective Aug. 1. The use of tobacco products which are smokeless and vaporless is prohibited inside any college building. The policy does not apply to East Campus housing.
Lowery-Hart also offered the board new ideas and plans for the near future. “We are making headway,” he said. “We have been really aggressive and instead of just talking about it, we are doing it and implementing our ideas.”
Because of less funding from the state and decreasing enrollment, AC has been forced to deal with financial issues the past few months.
A financial shortfall has resulted in budget cuts, a retirement incentive program and layoffs. Lowery-Hart announced at the Tuesday meeting that the financial scare finally is over. “It is now time for us to heal, rebuild and move forward,” he said. A new eight-week course program began this semester and will expand in the fall. It will proceed with a motto, “Fast, Focused and Flexible.”
Dr. Deborah Vess, vice president of academic affairs, has been working on the eight-week program. “I have taught in it and enrollment has increased,” she said. “It gives full-time credits for part-time students, and they focus on it more.”
“We are trying to get them through college on a faster track, and to have a higher success rate, we will be advising students to take the eight-week program and help them have a guided pathway.”
Three faculty members were approved for tenure at the meeting: Victoria Taylor-Gore, an assistant professor and chairwoman of visual arts; Rene’ West, an assistant photography professor; and Kerrie Young, a nursing instructor.
Regents approved a new program called Lil’ Badgers, a day camp for children from ages 4 to 6. The program is educational in addition to providing day care. Lowery-Hart said the college has been communicating with students more efficiently and on different levels. AC sends out emails, makes phone calls and now sends texts.
“The increase in student response has been positive,” he said. “It has been a great tactic for us to have more ways and better ways of getting in contact with our students to let them know what is going on around campus, when deadlines are and if there is anything else for a need-to-know message.”