• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


Learning from the Best

Taking students seriously. Taking poverty seriously.



May 31, 2018

This article from the Atlantic does a fantastic job of laying out the steps that Amarillo College is taking to address students’ basic needs. Its approach is working.

I was lucky to get to know its president, Russell Lowery-Hart, in the Aspen program, and to consider him a friend. He walks the walk. His leadership is purpose-driven, and the purpose is to enable students to climb out of poverty.  Everything follows from that, whether it’s connections to social services, a food pantry, emergency financial aid without formal applications, or shorter semesters.  The common denominator is respecting the humanity of students.

The article briefly mentions this, but it’s worth amplifying: Amarillo College has eliminated achievement gaps by race.  That’s an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s the sort of thing that should be studied, learned from, and used as a source of hope.  

Having recently embarked on some efforts along similar lines here, I can say with confidence that this stuff is _hard_. Resources are limited, resistance comes from all corners, and there’s always a reason not to. Always.

But the right thing is the right thing, even when it’s difficult.  I tip my cap to my friend, and recommend the Atlantic article to anyone who cares about community college students.  This is what it looks like to take students seriously.


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