Someone will have to help me solve a mystery about a community my wife and I called home for more than 23 years.
Of all the public institutions with which we dealt over the years, only one of them — Amarillo College — has remained unscathed by tension, turmoil, tumult. AC recently bid adieu to its latest president, Russell Lowery-Hart, who has become chancellor of the Austin Community College System.
He received a rousing sendoff from the college and the community that supports it. Contrast that with the recent departure of Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller, who basically got canned by the City Council over differences between Miller and council policy direction.
I will acknowledge it hasn’t always been this smooth at AC. I arrived in Amarillo in early 1995 and became acquainted immediately with former AC president Bud Joyner. Fred Williams and Steve Jones followed Joyner; Williams’ tenure didn’t go quite so well. Then came longtime AC administrator Paul Matney’s turn as president. He restored the college’s standing in grand fashion, guiding the school to expanding its presence in communities outside of Amarillo.
You want some more contrast? How about the dust-up with the Canyon ISD over curriculum and books being offered to students? Then we have the 2019 brouhaha in the Amarillo ISD over the resignation of a high school volleyball coach and her assertion that an AISD trustee had meddled in the way the coach was doing her job.
Meanwhile, Amarillo College has continued to flourish, continued to expand its reach into the community. It has restored intercollegiate athletic offerings to its students, plastering the Badger image all over the main campus on Washington Street to remind us of the school’s athletic team nickname and mascot.
AC has selected an interim president. The board of regents will look for a permanent president in due course. The good news for the regents, I’ll venture a guess, will be that it won’t be in a huge hurry to find a permanent president, given the school’s current solid condition.
Back to my initial inquiry at the top of this post. Is there a way for AC to market its formula for success and pitch it to other public institutions that have struggled with maintaining the trust of its constituents?