Rising our way to an Aspen Award


Amarillo College officials are waiting to learn if the college will receive a prestigious national recognition and a prize of $1 million. This is the second time the college has been a finalist for the Aspen Award.

In June 2022, the college was named as one of the top 10 Aspen Prize finalists. In 2021, AC made it to the top five finalists and was dubbed a “Rising Star” by the Aspen Institute.

“This time around feels more like affirmation that we truly are a great school, and a school that the rest of the country deserves to emulate,” Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, the president of Amarillo College, said.

The Aspen Institute honors colleges that show outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, according to Cara Crowley, the vice president of strategic initiatives.

“Without making appreciative gains in these five areas, AC would not have been a finalist for the prize in 2021, nor would it be in the top 10 again this time around. We continue to move the needle,” Joe Wyatt, the communication coordinator, said.

Winning the Aspen Prize would net the college $1 million and could also provide access to grants, increase philanthropic support and offer opportunities to influence policies according to Lowery-Hart.

“Being a finalist for the Aspen Award gives the college credibility, not just here at home where AC is already at the epicenter of so much that goes on in and around Amarillo, but nationally,” Wyatt said. “Other entities nationwide want to partner with an Aspen finalist, grantors look more favorably at applications from an Aspen finalist, other institutions that resemble ours want to learn a great deal more about what we’re doing to achieve Aspen recognition – and believe me they ask us all the time.”

The Aspen Prize winner will be announced in late spring of 2023.

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