Austin Community College District (ACC) Executive Vice Chancellor of Operations & Public Affairs, Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm, will retire in August 2024 after more than 12 years of service to the college and the Central Texas community. 

Since joining ACC in September 2012, Dr. Malcolm has led the development and growth of the college’s government and community relations programs, as well as the college’s safety and operations initiatives.

“It has been my honor to serve ACC and our community for the past 12 years. This journey has been an immensely fulfilling chapter of my life,” says Dr. Malcolm. “Education is in my DNA. I started my career as an educator — teaching and counseling young students in the public schools. I was elected to the Texarkana College Board of Trustees in 2006, which launched my career in higher education and passion for building partnerships that bring us together for a common cause. ACC became a home for that very mission, and for more than a decade, I have devoted my time and energy to serving this college, our students, employees, and the community at large.”

“It’s difficult to imagine an ACC without the touch of Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm. She is someone who brings that rare combination of wisdom, integrity, and compassion into everything she does. I’m proud and honored to call her my colleague and my friend,” says Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, ACC Chancellor. “When you think of the many incredible achievements of this college over the past decade, Molly Beth has been there — an instrumental figure in our good work. She is someone who truly embodies our mission to serve, and the programs, initiatives, and progress she made will resonate long into the years to come.”

We sat down with Dr. Malcolm to discuss some of the brightest highlights of her time with ACC and her plans for retirement. 

  1. What did you enjoy most about your time at ACC?
    I enjoyed watching ACC transform and grow to meet the needs of our community over the past 12 years. We have collectively had so many wonderful accomplishments that we can all be proud of. Most important has been seeing students excited to be Riverbats, growing and thriving to meet the needs of a changing world. And I love telling people, “This isn’t your grandmother’s community college! We are very cutting edge. The universities have nothing on us!

  1. How do you feel about the accomplishments ACC achieved during your tenure? Describe three moments or achievements you’re most proud of.
    1.) I had the privilege of leading the ACC legislative effort to pass legislation allowing Texas community colleges to offer up to three bachelor’s degrees in areas of workforce need in 2017 and then growing that to 5 bachelor’s degrees in 2021. This expansion of our mission puts an affordable bachelor’s degree within the reach of more people and serves to help meet critical workforce needs.

    2.) I am honored to have worked on the development of Highland as an 81-acre mixed-use development project with impervious cover turned into three signature green spaces and trails amounting to close to six acres. We have honored the history of the original land owners, St. John Baptist Association, and what they built. Jacob Fontaine Plaza, named for the first moderator, guides you into the campus. A history wall in the paseo shares the important history of the St. John Orphan Home and Industrial Institute. St. John Orphan Home was the first African American orphanage in the state and the industrial institute offered vocational training. The history wall leads to St. John Encampment Commons, named for the association and the summer encampments that brought St. John parishioners from all over Central Texas for tent revivals and vocational classes. Within St. John Encampment Commons, there is a beautiful pavilion named for the University Federal Credit Union for their $5,000,000 donation to scholarships. This is the largest single donation ever given to ACC. There is also a Texas historical marker reminding us of the area’s history. Highland Campus is a national and international showcase for innovative learning environments. We have created a mixed-use development where people work, live, play, AND learn! Today we have visitors from all over the world looking at these signature spaces.

    3.) I worked on the development of several initiatives that have helped make ACC a unique national model for excellence including the bioscience and fashion incubators and the development of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Center. ACC was the first community college and the first Texas institution to receive a grant for developing this wonderful center. Being a part of the development of the Army Software Factory, the only active Army military installation located on a college campus in the nation, and building a Veteran’s Resource Center and a Military Family Center are also projects I am very proud of. 
  1. Is there a piece of wisdom from your working life you often think about? Tell us about it.
    There are two that I would share. I often tell people, “Don’t worry about being the named person in charge. Just be the person in charge.” Be willing to do the work to make things happen. There is great joy in seeing success. Another one I keep top of mind when things seem tough begins with a quote from Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, “ Vengeance rarely brings the catharsis we hope for.” And then I add to that, “Don’t let people get you down. It’s not about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s right and that isn’t always popular!”
  1. Tell us what’s next for you — what does retirement life look like?
    We will be moving back to our hometown of Texarkana next door to our daughter and family into a house we bought two years ago and are now in the process of remodeling. We will be spending more time watching the 16- and 10-year-old grandsons play sports, take part in theater, and other activities they enjoy. I am also looking forward to traveling more with my husband, Bruce, and just enjoying the simple things of life in our golden years. 
  1. What are your hopes for the future of ACC?
    I am very excited to see ACC grow under Russell’s leadership. The foundation was laid under Dr. Rhodes’ leadership and I believe ACC will go to the next level under Russell’s leadership. ACC has the potential to be the number one community college in the nation, and I am proud to have played a small role in helping position the college for future success.

Dr. Malcolm’s last day as executive vice chancellor of Operations & Public Affairs of Austin Community College District will be August 31, 2024.