ACC Chancellor Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart held his March Virtual Employee Town Hall on Friday, March 1. Below are highlights from the conversation, with links to read more about some of the topics.

Free Tuition Proposal 

With ACC’s Free Tuition Proposal going before the Board of Trustees for a vote on Monday, March 4, Dr. Lowery-Hart talked more about the proposal. He informed attendees that a 20-page proposal was created and shared with Trustees. The document includes details, justification, research, and more. It was made public on Monday after the board meeting and is now posted to the college’s ACC Free Tuition informational website.

Dr. Lowery-Hart also shared how best practices learned from other Promise Programs across the country helped shape ACC’s proposal. Five of the elements the college incorporated into the design are:

  1. Keep it simple 
  2. Limit bureaucracy 
  3. Broad eligibility audiences 
  4. Provide a time frame to promote urgency
  5. Provide wraparound supports 

He reiterated that the goal of the program is to make tuition free for everyone within 5-10 years. 

He also discussed the topic of expanding the program to include employees’ dependents, which had been brought up at the last Board of Trustees work session. This group isn’t included in this plan directly, he said. The college chose to keep it separate so that the Free Tuition program messaging to the community can remain focused. Instead, it will be added as a proposed new employee benefit through the budget process which the board will discuss further at upcoming meetings.

Data Summit

The college’s first Data Summit will be held on Wednesday, March 27. It will not be livestreamed as there is no way to engage and ACC’s Teaching & Learning Excellence Division is already doing so much. However, it will be recorded and available afterward for those who cannot attend.

He let attendees know that they will not be walking out with a plan, but a process:

“We are going to look at key data points; walk out with a deeper understanding of our values and theory of change; metrics; and the process we’re going to use to empower you to design and be part of the creation of the theory of change plan,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart.

More information and the link to RSVP can be found on the Data Summit web page. You can read more about ways to prepare for Data Summit Day here.  

Introduction to Cara Crowley

The Chancellor was briefly joined by Cara Crowley, ACC’s new Special Advisor to the Chancellor for Basic Needs Systems. “She’s not coming in to replace anyone. She’s coming in to help glue ourselves together,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart. He said she has designed similar systems at Armarillo College that she will be doing at ACC. March 1 was her first day on the job. Learn more about her and her role here

Rumor Busting

During the Town Hall, participants submitted more than 100 questions, and several themes emerged. Below are some excerpts and responses they received.

What happened to the employees who received HEERF funds?
No one did anything illegal. Would it have been better if we had more guidance from the government? Yes. But it has been affirmed and confirmed that those employees didn’t do anything illegal. During COVID, a lot of families were stressed. Let’s give each other grace and move on. I’m sure the 15 people who received funds had their own personal reasons.

Was anyone held responsible for the $1.7 million data center situation?
Yes. We had entered into the agreement with the plan to use the data center. During COVID, it was all hands on deck, and it was challenging for our IT professionals who had to be everywhere at once because they were redirected to help with COVID efforts. The accountability was with the IT professional leading it, and he is no longer with the college. Auditors evaluated the situation and didn’t find any family members benefitted. They found that we spent money on a contract we couldn’t get out of and didn’t have the personnel to executive. Since then, we have changed our contract language to give us outs that weren’t allowed in this contract.

Wage compression?
We are close to launching a full compensation evaluation plan.

Any updates on the Pinnacle or Southeast Travis campuses?
The Austin mayor just announced a new infrastructure academy. ACC is a part of those conversations, which make our Southeast Travis plans even more important. We’ll learn more in the coming weeks. 

How to Get Involved 

The Chancellor’s monthly Virtual Employee Town Halls are a great way for employees to share their feedback on college initiatives or get their questions answered. 

Employees may also email the Chancellor on his 100 Days web page by clicking on the “Connect” tab at the top. 


Virtual Employee Town Halls will be hosted on the first Friday of every month for the remainder of the semester. The next Town Hall is scheduled for April 5.

For more information and to watch recordings of the conversations, visit