If you want to craft the ideal spokesman for a public institution, someone whose love for it is beyond reproach, who speaks with intelligence and clarity, and who means every single word of what he says about the place he runs, you would use Paul Matney as your template.
Matney announced today he is retiring after more than three decades working on behalf of Amarillo College.
The past five years of that service have been as president of one of the premier junior colleges in Texas.
Man, what a loss for the school with which Matney has had a love affair ever since he enrolled there fresh out of high school.
Paul Matney has been one of my better friends since my arrival in Amarillo in January 1995. He was a trusted source for perspective on the school, on Amarillo, public higher education, the Panhandle, on Texas politics and occasionally on how to live a good life.
He earned the trust, respect and admiration from folks all across the spectrum.
I want to share one tidbit that, for me, testifies to the universal respect Paul has enjoyed in Amarillo.
Some years ago, I was sitting at the table with some other local residents at the Good Scout Luncheon sponsored by the Golden Spread Council of the Boy Scouts. One of them was Tom Roller, a local real estate broker and at the time the chairman of the Potter County Republican Party. I mention Roller’s partisan affiliation only because Matney is an unapologetic Democrat.
Matney was serving as acting AC president when he walked by our table. He greeted us all individually and walked on. Roller turned to the person sitting next to him and said, “That man should be the next Amarillo College president. I hope the regents appoint him to the job permanently.”
Roller’s off-the-cuff endorsement told me clearly that Matney’s credentials as an avid AC advocate and spokesman were unassailable. Indeed, over the years I have listened to Matney speak on AC’s behalf at luncheons, seminars, press conferences or in informal gatherings of individuals just standing around.
The man is a treasure to the college he loves so much and to the place he calls home.
The college board of regents will need to look hard to find someone to step into the enormous void that Paul Matney will leave.
Well done, my friend.