By ALYSSA ORTIZ
The Amarillo College board of regents recently began their search for a new president, following the departure of Dr. Russel Lowery-Hart in September 2023.
Interim President, Denese Skinner, said the process is handled by the board of regents. “The regents will choose a professional search firm that will do a nationwide search for candidates to bring to the regents to consider and interview. The top candidates will have a full-day interview with the regents, campus and community leaders and an open-to-all presentation and Q&A session,” Skinner said.
Members of the board then listen to the input of stakeholders to determine who will be the final contender.
Skinner has also stepped into the role of the chief executive officer for the college and is responsible for formulating and directing sound policies and practices. This includes all administrative, fiscal and academic affairs. She is in charge of implementing policies and regulations for the board as well.
A major aspect of searching for a new president lies in what the college needs. “I think ideally it would be helpful if we were able to find a candidate who will help us to continue the good work that we’ve already been doing,” Bob Austin, vice president of enrollment management, said. “Obviously, we’ve been recognized nationally as the top community college in the nation and those are pretty big shoes to fill.”
Austin said he cares deeply about the well-being of the students and the environment created for them. Austin wants students to enroll, graduate and enter the workforce with great opportunities. “We’re positioned pretty well for that, but we still have a lot of opportunities to grow and get better,” he said.
With AC being named the top community college in the nation, Austin said the next president should continue leading the school to that standard. “It’s kind of a blessing and a curse for the next person. Here’s this guy who has done an incredible job and has moved on to an even bigger job and we’re hoping that the next person can come in and fill those shoes,” he said.
Academic Success Center Supervisor, Micah Prock, said she understands the challenges that will come with filling Lowery-Hart’s shoes. “He was a fabulous leader. I think that he was the person that we can thank for our culture of caring and our mission. I think Amarillo College needs a president that sees our current mission and can somehow make it better. We already have a fabulous mission, so I think the mark of a true, amazing next candidate is someone that can take the work we’ve already done and somehow refine it and make it even better,” Prock said.
Prock said she had faith in the board to pick a suitable candidate when the time comes. “That’s their number one mission right now. Their goal is finding the next great president to take us from where we’ve been and strive for greatness. That’s why they’re there,” she said.