Richard Rhodes named Austinite of the Year by Austin Chamber

Former Austin Community College District Chancellor to be honored on February 13 at Chamber’s “Cheers to the Year” event

Posted on 12/19/2023

AUSTIN, Texas —The Austin Chamber has named Richard Rhodes, Ph.D., former chancellor of Austin Community College District—and longest-serving chancellor in the college’s 50-year history—as the 2023 Austinite of the Year. This award represents the highest honor the Chamber offers on an annual basis. Rhodes will be honored at the Austin’s Chamber of Commerce’s 146thannual meeting, Cheers to the Year, on Feb. 13, 2024.

“I am honored to be named Austinite of the Year by the Austin Chamber,” Rhodes said. “This award reflects the incredible organization, staff and student body I had the pleasure of serving. My time at ACC includes many of my proudest moments from my professional career, and I want to thank the people of the Austin region for embracing me and my family when we moved here in 2011. Thank you to the Chamber for this recognition, being part of this esteemed group of honorees is something that I will always cherish.”

Under Rhodes’ leadership, ACC grew to 11 campuses, created new learning spaces for the community, and passed two general obligation bonds totaling approximately $1 billion. This expansion included the redevelopment of the former Highland Mall into an advanced and state-of-the-art college campus with three business incubators, performing arts spaces, simulation centers and more. During his tenure, ACC’s graduation rates ranked as the fastest-rising in the state and the college earned multiple Star Awards from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Under Rhodes’ leadership, ACC redefined what collaboration looks like in higher education as the college established partnerships with companies such as Tesla, Samsung Austin Semiconductor, NXP, Apple, St. David’s HealthCare, Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and more.

Additionally, collaboration with K-12 schools through Dual Credit, Early College High Schools (the first in Austin), P-TECHs and Career Academies changed the landscape for entry into higher education. The partnerships established with higher education entities like the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Central Texas, St. Edward's University, Concordia University and Texas Tech University, provided innovative and creative pathways for students to transfer.

The Austinite of the Year is chosen by the Austin Chamber board chair.

“The Austin region has flourished into one of the most desirable places to live, work and thrive in the country, and it’s because of community leaders like Richard Rhodes,” Ali Khataw, 2023 Austin Chamber board chair, said. “His dedication to serving his community is immeasurable, and his leadership at ACC was inspiring. He spearheaded numerous community partnerships that propelled ACC to be a model for community colleges across the nation and cultivated an institution that reinforces that higher education is accessible for everyone who wants to pursue it. I can’t imagine a more deserving Austinite of the Year for 2023.”

Chamber president and CEO Jeremy Martin lauded Rhodes’ dedication to our region.

“Richard is a trusted voice in our community and exemplifies the passion, involvement and devotion that has helped instill pride in our region for the people who call Austin home, while helping to make this region a destination for talent and businesses alike. This is the Chamber’s most highly anticipated and prestigious award of the year, and I look forward to celebrating him and his accomplishments at our annual meeting.”

Rhodes’ professional associations include past chair of AACC and Chair of Trellis Foundation; Chair of Trellis Company, ACT Board Member, vice chair for Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts; past chair of Texas Association of Community Colleges and board member of Texas Workforce Investment Council and League for Innovation in the Community College. He is active in the community, serving as past chair of the board for American Youthworks as well as serving on the boards of local chambers of commerce and as co-chair of Communities in Schools Central Texas Leadership Circle and the Austin Area Research Organization.

To buy tickets, visit the event website linked here.

About the Austinite of the Year award

The Chamber created this special award in 1984 to recognize significant leaders in the local community who were instrumental in making Austin an even better place to live, work, and do business. Recent honorees include Roy Spence (2022), Collette Pierce Burnette, Ph.D. (2021), Susan Dawson (2020), Jesús Garza (2019), Ray Wilkerson (2018), Bobby Jenkins (2017), Dell Medical School Drs. Ken Shine and Clay Johnston (2016), Mobile Loaves and Fishes CEO Alan Graham (2015).

About the Austin Chamber

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit membership organization that helps people live, work and thrive in Austin. The Chamber invests in a broad range of programs that build, support, and diversify the Austin region’s economy. Its vision is for Austin to have the country’s most prosperous business community. To learn more, visit