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      Getting to know AC's sole President finalist Russell Lowery-Hart

      Doctor Russell Lowery-Hart is the sole finalist to become the next President of Amarillo College. He's got big shoes to fill, left by Doctor Paul Matney. Pronews 7 is now learning more about Russell and his vision for the community college.

      "It's an excellent choice. He knows the school already, it won't have such a learning process, learning curve. He knows the community and has a lot of excellent contacts already," said Assistant Dean of Amarillo College, Kathryn Wetzel.

      Russell Lowery-Hart has been selected as the sole finalist for Amarillo College President following a two month intense national search. A man already familiar with the college and community. He has served as AC's vice president for the past four years, but the extent of his academic career is far reaching. He has served as the President of Panhandle Twenty/20 to the chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Undergraduate Advisory Committee. Earlier this year, Lowery-Hart was the recipient of the National Academic Leader of the Year Award.

      "It feels like we're building something special here with our students success focus and I wanted to complete that journey we're starting to take together," said Lowery-Hart.

      That student success is something he said he wants to focus more on. Right now, he said the college is wonderful at getting students enrolled, but he wants to see better student retention, and more graduating.

      "A lot of times when we looked at what keeps a student from completion we would always think they were academic barriers. And what we found is talking to our students is that the life barriers and social barriers had as much, if not more, impact on their failure in their goal to complete," said Lowery-Hart.

      He has been instrumental in breaking down those barriers, helping create the campus food pantry. Which feeds into the college's success in the Amarillo Independent School District's "No Excuses University" incentive.

      "There's a lot of excitement because he has such vision. He's very inspirational. He works with the students and works with the faculty and he works with the community and the state," said Wetzel.

      "I know that I got to improve the education attainment rates and lower the poverty rates for not only myself, but for the generation following me. My kids will benefit from the work of this college," said Lowery-Hart.

      He said Amarillo College will continue to build on it's partnership with West Texas A&M University since many students transfer there, as well as build relationships with businesses in town. A final vote on AC's 14th President is expected when the board of regents meet on August 26th.