ACC Chancellor Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart held his third virtual Employee Town Hall meeting via Zoom on Friday, December 1. The Town Hall took place on day 61 of his First 100 Days, and Dr. Lowery-Hart provided updates on what he’s been doing and what he’s planning next. He also addressed rumors employees have been hearing. 

The December Town Hall featured several special guests to support the conversation around employee relations. Both Amanda Dean, Ombudsperson, and Austin Wood, the college’s Employee Relations Officer, joined Russell to discuss their roles and responsibilities to help employees understand the various types of support the college offers employees.

Approximately 440 employees tuned in to hear the discussion and share their questions and comments.

“’I love these kinds of conversations. I know my Cabinet colleagues do as well. We’re better when we can talk to each other and ask the things that we might not know how to ask otherwise,” said Dr. Lowery-Hart as a closing comment.

Below are highlights from the Town Hall.

Chancellor Visits

Now that he’s visited and toured all 11 ACC campuses, Dr. Lowery-Hart plans to host Campus Conversations at the college’s two centers in mid-December. Find more information and watch the recordings from previous discussions on the Campus Conversations web page.

In the coming weeks. Dr. Lowery-Hart will start meeting with academic departments and then all of the college’s departments individually over the next year.

Compensation Study

Dr. Lowery-Hart also discussed the college’s compensation study and informed employees that a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be posted before winter break. 

“We have the committee structure in place to evaluate and then map out a true comprehensive compensation study that can help us make really thoughtful, caring, strategic decisions about our compensation,” said Dr. Lowery-Hart.

Rumor Busting

The Chancellor took questions from the chat to help address rumors that are circulating the district. Below are some of the questions asked by employees and a summary of the responses they received.

Will all staff required to be in person in 2024? 
Dr. Lowery-Hart: “There is not a decision on that. I would love if we could spend 2024 using a rubric to make a decision by position — not by the person in the position — of which positions need to be permanently in place in person, which should be hybrid or hyflex, and which should be fully online.”

He reassured employees that “no decisions like that are going to be made in a vacuum without lots of discussion and without your involvement.”

I heard that there is an outside agency looking at other possibilities for spending the bond money.
Dr. Lowery-Hart confirmed this as a rumor and Neil Vickers, Executive Vice Chancellor of Business & Finance, confirmed in the chat. 

There is a rumor that Riverside Campus will close eventually. 
Dr. Lowery-Hart: “We’re not closing any of our campuses. There is no plan to do anything — and if there is ever a plan to close any of our campuses, you will know about it so far in advance that you’re going to be bored by the time we do it. I’m not going to ever surprise you with some of those really big decisions.”

He said that we will need to have hard conversations in the future about the purposes of our campuses. “We need to really get clear on what the purpose of our campuses need to be, especially when 44% of our students are now online,” he explained. “What I’m asking is that we build a rubric that’s transparent of when and how and where we invest resources…until we can get clear on what we need from our campuses, there should be no worry about shutting them down.”

How was the external firm selected to provide an internal audit of the college?
Dr. Lowery-Hart: “There was an RFP process. There was a committee that evaluated and picked the internal auditing firm. It’s [an external firm located] outside of the community — it’s in Houston. I didn’t want it to be someone from this community just so there’s no natural relationships that could cloud anything that we learn and do.

“The board actually approved it during COVID, but we didn’t execute on it. And so, when I came in and saw some of these problems, I was like, ‘We need an internal [audit]. Let’s go out and find [an external firm].’ We already had one that the board had approved; I wanted to make sure it was the right one since we hadn’t executed that contract at all. I felt really good about who they were and their experience in the higher ed space and the level of professionalism they could bring to the process. And so I was comfortable moving forward with the contract we already had.”

Other issues that were shared include questions about the following:

  • Internal group reevaluating the use of the bond money | Listen at the 53:20 mark on the recording link below 
  • Extending the Workday Student (SIS) timeline | Listen at the 54:22 mark on the recording link below 
  • Reasoning to visit centers | Listen at the 55:26 mark on the recording link below 
  • Six things students identified they wanted in the perfect college | Listen at the 57:28 mark on the recording link below 
  • 1:9 employee-to-student ratio does not mean downsizing employees | Listen at the 1:00:24 mark on the recording link below 

Watch the full Town Hall at

The next Town Hall will be Friday, January 19, at 9 a.m. A link will be posted to the Employee Town Hall website.