2023 has been a momentous year for ACC. The college commemorated its 50th anniversary and welcomed a new Chancellor.
ACC Celebrates 50 Years
The college was founded on December 9, 1972, and opened its doors for the first time on September 7, 1973. In 2023, the college was recognized by the State and a number of cities in our community for its 50th anniversary.
ACC hosted Spirit Week activities and events on every campus throughout the district during the official week of its 50th Anniversary from Monday, September 18, through Friday, September 22.
The celebrations culminated with a Riverbat Homecoming on Saturday, September 23. More than 2,500 past, present, and future Riverbats participated in studio tours, program exhibits and demonstrations, entertainment, and live forums.
To help commemorate the 50th anniversary, the college interviewed founders, current and former employees and students, community leaders, partners, and more for the ACC Story Project. Click the link to record and share your story as we continue our celebrations into May 2024!
ACC heads into its next 50 years with a new Chancellor at the helm. Trustees unanimously named Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart as the college’s new chancellor on July 24.
Dr. Lowery-Hart — or Russell as her prefers to be called — started his role as the ninth Chancellor of ACC on October 1. His First 100 Days included campus conversations and visits at all ACC campuses as well as the Service and Highland Business centers. He also hosted virtual town hall meetings with employees and students.
You can follow the goals of his First 100 Days on our website.
2023 also brought some changes at the cabinet level. ACC’s Vice Chancellor of Instruction, Mike Midgley, assumed the role of Senior Vice Chancellor of Student Information Systems (SIS) in January. Dr. Gaye Lynn Scott, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Transfer Programs, was appointed to fill the position of Vice Chancellor of Instruction. Additionally, Dr. Garrett Groves, Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives, assumed additional, added responsibilities as the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff.
ACC also selected a new vice chancellor of HR. ACC’s first Employee Relations Officer (ERO), Kelly Torrico, assumed the role in April. The college announced that Austin Wood would take over the ERO position in June.
New safety measures launched in January districtwide. ACC campus and center buildings started operating with identified main entrances for students and visitors. All other building doors operate under access-control technology and require an approved ACC-issued employee ID card to gain entry.
2023 also saw new food options on our campuses. Cafes opened at the Rio Grande and Eastview campuses and the college’s student-run restaurant, Eatery 73, offered select lunch service and opened a Grab & Go kiosk at the Highland Campus.
In addition to food options, the college also expanded support centers for students.
At Eastview Campus, the college opened the new Amplify Center in partnership with the UT-Austin Dell Medical School. The mental health clinic is one of the first of its kind in the nation. In its first year, it will focus on mental health services for at least 200 ACC students ages 18-29.
At Riverside Campus, the college celebrated the opening of the expanded and revamped Latin American Cultural Center, also known as El Centro.
At Highland Campus, ACC celebrated the grand opening of its newest green space. The St. John Encampment Commons is open to students, faculty, staff, and college guests and features the UFCU Pavilion. It opened in August. Additionally, the long-awaited Make It Center officially opened its doors during the Riverbat Homecoming Fest, and the NXP Semiconductors Advanced Manufacturing Lab at ACC Highland celebrated its official opening in November.
The State enacted House Bill 8 (HB8) — a new funding model for colleges in Texas that shifts funding for colleges from enrollment rates to completion rates — this year. ACC will evaluate opportunities to raise its standards and expectations to help more students complete and earn a family-sustaining wage and, as a result, include its funding from state appropriations.
The state also passed Senate Bill 17 (SB17), requiring publicly funded universities and colleges to close their diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and prohibiting specific enumerated duties described within the law associated with those offices. ACC has been taking action to comply with the core restrictions of SB17, which went into effect January 1, 2024.
The college also launched the process to consolidate its multiple student information systems (SIS). Workday is the college’s new enterprise resource management (ERP) system. In December, Dr. Lowery-Hart asked the Workday Student team to slow down the implementation to allow more time for the college to evaluate needs, roles, and responsibilities.
ACC’s strategic planning process continued into 2023. More information is expected as the college shares its new theory of change following the chancellor’s First 100 Days.
ACC also started to focus on key topics that have an impact on student success rates, starting with child care. ACC Chancellor Dr. Lowery-Hart and the Cabinet joined the ACC Board of Trustees for a series of special work sessions starting in November. Initial recommendations were presented to the board at a work session in January.
ACC launched a new online option for its RN-to-BSN program in spring 2023, and in fall 2023, launched the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Cybersecurity program. The program is the college’s 4th bachelor’s degree and second in the IT sector.
ACC also relaunched its Study Abroad program in the summer after its hiatus due to the pandemic.
As part of its Quality Enhancement Plan, the college also started offering microcredentials in high-demand technical and professional skills at no cost to all ACC students, faculty, and staff.
Awards and Recognitions
ACC continued to rack up recognitions this year, including:
- Ranked among the top 10 Best Community College in Texas by Intelligent.com
- Named Corporation of the Year by the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Awarded Best Project Innovation by the prestigious Urban Land Institute (ULI) Austin for Rio Grande Campus
- ACC’s Veterans Affairs Department received the Texas Veterans Commission Gold Award
- The Student Experience & Outcomes (SE&O) division earned Certified Neurodiverse Workplace Designation
- Highland Campus, Building 2000, awarded the Austin Business Journal’s Community Impact Award
- Selected as one of the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges by Diverse Education
- Named Best Online Community College in Texas by OnlineU