Message from the Chancellor: My First 100 Days & Our Next Steps

Dear Colleagues, 

We’re just a few days away from welcoming our students for the spring semester. I’m excited about the Welcome Riverbats events at every campus. I’ll be out there too and look forward to seeing you. Together, we’re going to help our students feel loved and supported from the moment they arrive. 

It’s an extra special time for me because we have reached the culmination of my First 100 Days at ACC. It has been a journey of listening and learning. You have been open and honest, and I have promised you a plan to move us forward with purpose and a clear path.

Today, I want to share a preview of what’s to come. 

First, our shared values. We hosted a series of listening sessions with students during my First 100 Days. They opened up and told us what they need. Their honesty helped us understand our purpose in a new way, and we’re creating values based on what they revealed. I will share those with you soon.

Second, I have no doubt that when we commit to working together in our shared values — we can do great things. Our theory of change will be just that: we’re going to grow our completion and transfer rates. Here’s what that looks like: 

If we can help students start strong, create opportunities to help them enroll full time, help meet their basic needs, and wrap them in a culture of belonging and connection, we will grow completion and transfer rates

This work will take all of us. So, just as crucial to our theory of change is the work we’re doing to build trust, transparency, and love for one another. It’s going to force us to think in new and different ways. That might feel messy. That’s okay. We’re here to learn, grow, and become the best college in the nation. 

Finally, you might have heard about a preliminary proposal that went to our Board of Trustees on Monday. It’s a bold idea to make college tuition free for everyone. It’s going to take time to get there. So, we’re proposing starting small, beginning with a pilot program that does just that for every high school senior in our service area who graduates this spring. You can read more about our proposal here. We’re developing a web page so you can follow our decisions and the process. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll have teams of stakeholders across the college working together to develop a formal plan. It will go to the Board in February. I have a lot of hope for what something like this can do for our students, our college, and our entire community. 

I’ve told you that I came to ACC because I believe we have the resources and talent to do incredible things. You are that talent, and I’m incredibly proud to be on this journey with you. 

I promise to share more at our next Employee Town Hall Meeting on Friday, January 19.

I hope you have a wonderful spring semester. Let’s show our students how much we care. Let’s love them — and each other — to success. Enjoy your long holiday weekend, I will see you on campus next Tuesday. 

Much love, 

Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart
Austin Community College District

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