Austin Community College District (ACC) welcomes Cara Crowley (she/her) as the college’s new Special Advisor to the Chancellor for Basic Needs Systems. Her first day was Friday, March 1, 2024. 

In the newly appointed position, Crowley will focus on growing and scaling solutions for life barriers that students face including meeting basic needs and opportunities to address poverty. 

“I’m thrilled to be a part of ACC and the opportunities here to connect our students to social services on campus and across our community,” says Crowley. “We will work across the district to create strategies that address life barriers and meet basic/life needs so students thrive and create the life they desire.”

Crowley describes herself as a social reconstructionist, student advocate, systemic change agent, and a firm believer in higher education attainment for all.

She previously worked at Amarillo College where she served as the Director of Grants, Director of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) programs, Chief of Staff, and most recently as the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. She has also served Amarillo College in a faculty role as a professor of History and Government.

During her tenure at Amarillo College (AC) — and with the guidance and support of then-President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart — the institution made its student data collection a priority. The college evolved the way it supported students — creating wraparound support systems from multiple sources, both inside and outside the college. As a result, graduation and transfer rates nearly tripled over the last 10 years. 

Crowley believes ACC, and any college or university, can set up similar systems to make a difference in the lives of students and the community.

“We’re going to do amazing things here at ACC with the knowledge and guidance that Cara will bring,” says Lowery-Hart. “Our challenges at ACC are not unique to ACC. They’re issues colleges and students across the nation are battling. But what we *do have* is an abundance of resources. When I thought about what we could do to really make a difference, I thought about the work Cara led at Amarillo College. I knew she was the only person who could come here and carry this momentum forward. I’m excited to have her on the team, and I can’t wait to see what we can build when we glue our work together in support of our students.” 

Crowley earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from West Texas A&M University. She also has a Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration from the university. 

Among her first priorities at ACC, Crowley says she plans to visit each of the ACC campuses to see and understand the work that’s happening across the district and discover where and how our work can be amplified.