ACC Chancellor Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart held his April Virtual Employee Town Hall on Friday, April 5. He led the conversation from Louisville, Kentucky, where he was attending the annual American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) conference. 

More than 800 employees turned in to this month’s town hall, which focused on the next steps the college will take to bring our Theory of Change to life. 

Below are highlights from the discussion, with links to read more about some of the topics.

Data Summit Follow-Up

Lowery-Hart kicked off the discussion by asking attendees to share their reflections on the Data Summit. He encouraged employees to fill out the feedback survey sent out via email to share their official thoughts and reactions post-event. He said that this survey will be the first of many opportunities to provide feedback on the Theory of Change process.

He encouraged employees interested in learning more to attend the upcoming Data Deep Dive Discussions that will take a closer look at various components of the Theory of Change.

He also informed employees that Stephanie Land, the author of “Class” — the book handed out after the event — will be at General Assembly in the fall.

Additionally, the Chancellor spoke more about the alignment of the Strategic Plan and the Theory of Change. The Strategic Plan Committee has morphed into the Theory of Change Steering Committee, which will be tri-chaired by Lowery-Hart, Provost Dr. Monique Umphrey, and ACC Biology Professor Dr. Samantha Croft. Croft is an ACC alumna and, since starting at the college as faculty in 2010, has worked on various councils, committees, workgroups, and projects.

Design Team Nomination Process

The Chancellor was joined by Croft, who serves as the Theory of Change Project Manager, to discuss the Design Team Nomination Process. 

The Design Teams will be specific to the college’s Theory of Change initiatives. The groups will be purposeful, and the size of the teams has not yet been determined.

Starting in September, the teams will begin analyzing the current state of the college for their assigned focus and then explore what other colleges are doing, which may involve travel to visit other colleges.

Lowery-Hart is calling for a transparent process in which everyone will have an opportunity to provide feedback through multiple channels. 

Croft encouraged attendees to watch for an email that will have a link they can use to nominate themselves, their colleagues, or students. There are three requirements to be on the Design Team: 

  • Must be a current ACC employee or student;
  • Must care a lot and believe our students can succeed if given the structures to do so; and
  • Must be willing to come with an open mind and be willing to try something new.

Nominees will receive a link to a 3-5-minute innovation assessment they must complete.

The nomination form will close on April 19, 2024, at 5 p.m.

Free Tuition for Employee Dependents

As a follow-up to the approval of the college’s Free Tuition Pilot Program by the Board of Trustees on Monday, April 1, the Chancellor announced that the college will propose providing free tuition and fees for the dependents of ACC employees as part of the annual budgeting process. This change will require updates to the college’s Administrative Rules. 

The college is still working on the process. More details will be shared as they are determined.

Climate Survey Closing Soon

Lowery-Hart reminded employees to take the Spring 2024 Employee Climate Survey, saying, “We can’t fix the parts that need fixing without your input.” The anonymous and confidential survey is open through Friday, April 12. 

Employees should look for their unique link in their email sent by the Office of Institutional Research & Analytics Vice Chancellor Dr. Jenna Cullinane Hege. 

Rumor Busting

Q: Will certain departments/services be eliminated that were originally DEI-focused like what happened at UT Austin with SB17?
A: We do not anticipate staffing changes. Mr. Larry Davis is our Vice Chancellor of Belonging & Purpose and will be supporting ACC’s work under Pillar 4 of the Theory of Change — Culture of Belonging & Connection.

Q: How can we ensure bottom-up participation?
A: The design teams will have participants from across the college and will not include chancellors, vice chancellors, associate vice chancellors, etc. This structure is designed to support bottom-up participation.

Q: When would the Campus Conversations Upcoming Schedule be posted?
A: The general schedule is available on the Campus Conversations web page.

Q: When will we be able to evaluate department chairs/supervisors again? We used to have upward evaluations but have not done those in several years.
A: There will be an opportunity to evaluate Cabinet leadership this year. We want to be able to act on feedback. We also know there have been gaps in things that support the workplace (like ongoing supervisor training). So, we will be taking steps to fill some of those gaps this year, and ongoing. It’ll be important to allow folks the opportunity to move forward as we all adopt the values and reflect them in our behaviors. That said, where there are concerns, please do share that feedback with a leader in your division or with HR so we can offer private support in those cases ([email protected], also now on Mojo).

Q: How do the Free Tuition Program Working groups relate to the Theory of Change design teams?
A: Membership of the Free Tuition groups change as the work of each group moves to new challenges. The goal and design of the Free Tuition program was shaped and approved by the board, so these groups are very focused on the various challenges and opportunities that arise in implementing the program. That’s why the Free Tuition working groups include nearly 125 ACCers, and are dynamic.   

In comparison, the Theory of Change design teams will be engaged in the work of visioning and design. Therefore, this bottom-up construction of the teams is incredibly important.”

Q: I support Free Tuition for high school students, but I a concerned about our adult learners who are a greater percentage of our students. How are we going to continue supporting present Adult Career Scholars and the many others who would benefit from that kind of program?
A: ACC will be working on our next steps related to Career Scholars. That is inclusive of hearing from our Adult Career Scholars regarding what they need to be supportive. The team is scheduling that meeting/has scheduled that. We also will include a session with the team members who support Adult Career Scholars. Our role is to support students – we will always do that and determine how best to make that happen.

Q: For free tuition, how does it apply to immigrant students? 
A: There is Senate Bill 1528 that allows undocumented students to claim in-state residency if they qualify! This should help.

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 May 3.

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