The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees announces Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart as the lone finalist for the next Chancellor of the district. After a nationwide, months-long search, the Board unanimously approved Dr. Lowery-Hart during its regular board meeting on Monday, July 24.
“I am proud of the inclusive approach this Board took to find the best next Chancellor for ACC. Many voices were a part of this decision, and we’re excited to welcome Dr. Lowery-Hart to ACC,” says Dr. Barbara Mink, ACC Board Chair. “Dr. Lowery-Hart is a visionary with a proven history in the community college. Under his leadership, Amarillo College became one of the top community colleges in the nation. His focus on student success and his deep understanding of what students need to succeed is evident in his remarkable tenure.”
The extensive, nationwide search process began in January 2023 and included a multiple-round interview schedule. The college hired an outside firm to lead the process and developed a 35-person search advisory committee comprised of ACC employees, students, community leaders, and stakeholders. Lowery-Hart was among three finalists who visited Austin and participated in 9 community forums at campuses in the district’s North, Central, and South regions. Afterward, Trustees conducted site visits at the finalists’ campuses to learn more about them and their college culture.
“I’m honored and thrilled and overwhelmed. Community colleges are the place of innovation, and ACC is one of the premier districts in the country. I think the talent and resources exist here to do something truly magical,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart. “I look forward to engaging with faculty and staff to explore the next phase of innovation. That’s my passion. It’s why I’m in this work and ultimately, what I look forward to bringing to ACC.”
About Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart
Dr. Lowery-Hart has served as president of Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas, since 2014. Dr. Lowery-Hart previously served as vice president of academic affairs for Amarillo College. Under his leadership, Amarillo College was named co-winner of the prestigious 2023 Aspen Prize, a Community College Excellence award. The award recognizes community colleges demonstrating high-quality and equitable outcomes for students. Other accolades under his leadership include:
- 2021 Top Five Institution and Rising Star for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
- Leah Meyer Austin Award for Achieving the Dream
- Bellwether Award
- Membership in the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute Presidential Fellowship
- Recognition from the American Association of Community Colleges
During his time at Amarillo College, three-year completion rates more than doubled from 22% to 56%, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Additionally, the college saw a 75% growth rate of first-generation students completing their degree or certificate.
Dr. Lowery-Hart received a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and rhetoric from West Texas State University, a master’s degree in communication studies from Texas Tech University, and a doctorate in interpersonal communication (with an emphasis on gender and diversity) from Ohio University. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Kody Hodge Foundation.
Dr. Lowery-Hart and his wife of 27 years share three children.
ACC Chancellor Search: Next Steps
The ACC Board of Trustees will now begin the negotiation process with Dr. Lowery-Hart. There is a state-mandated 21-day waiting period before finalizing leadership changes.
If appointed, Lowery-Hart would become the ninth Chancellor of the Austin Community College District. He replaces current Chancellor Dr. Richard M. Rhodes, who announced his retirement in January following 12 years of service to the college and Central Texas region.
“I thank everyone who contributed their time, attention, and care to this decision. ACC has taken impressive strides in the past 12 years under Dr. Rhodes’ leadership. We believe that through this process, we’ve found someone who has exactly what ACC needs to take us into the future,” says Dr. Mink.
Dr. Rhodes has agreed to a one-month contract extension and will continue to serve as Chancellor of ACC through September to allow the college time to develop a deliberate and smooth transition of power.