AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Amarillo College announced that it will revive a tradition interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday in recognizing four recipients of its Distinguished Alumni Award, which was last presented in 2019.

According to the college, the four honorees – Dr. Pablo Diaz-Esquivel, Dr. Clint Esler, Mr. Matt Griffith, and former AC President Dr. Paul Matney – will be recognized at the Distinguished Alumni Luncheon on Tuesday, hosted by the AC Foundation at 12 p.m. in the Amarillo Country Club Ballroom.

AC released further details on the four Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, citing the long careers and accomplishments of the honorees.

Dr. Pablo Diaz-Esquivel, according to AC, graduated from the college in 1970 and is a board-certified doctor of obstetrics and gynecology. He has been a longstanding member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and belongs to the distinguished Winfred L. Wiser Society. 

Further, AC said he is a founding member of the Children’s Health Organization and is a fellow of the American College of OBGYN, and was a recipient in 2019 of the Vitalis Patients’ Choice Award.

Dr. Clint Esler is a doctor of dental surgery who attended Amarillo College from 1972-74, said AC, before graduating from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio as the only student at that time who had been accepted to the dental school without a bachelor’s degree.

AC detailed that Esler went on to practice dentistry in Amarillo for 42 years. AC said that it is believed Esler is the only AC student who has successfully transferred to dental school with only an associate’s degree.

Matt Griffith has served as vice president of Rockrose Development, LLC since 1993, according to AC. After he was inspired into a passion for architectural design by a drafting class in high school, Griffith became a planner for the City of Amarillo while attending AC and later on West Texas A&M University.

After leaving Amarillo, AC said Griffith contributed to major regional projects in the last 30 years. Further, he has volunteered with multiple schools in the Amarillo area and was subsequently inducted into the Caprock High School Hall of Fame in 2013. He also holds leadership roles in the Texas Panhandle Builders Association and Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

Dr. Paul Matney was described by AC as having an “unprecedented odyssey” that swept him through the corridors of Amarillo College as a student, instructor, professor, dean and, ultimately, to the presidency. He retired in 2014 after 35 years on the AC workforce.

AC detailed that Matney attended AC in 1967 before moving on to UT Texas at Austin, then earning his master’s from West Texas State University and a doctoral degree from Texas Tech University. After joining the AC faculty in 1979, Matney went on to rise to vice president and dean of instruction by 2005 and president in 2009.

AC noted that Matney also spent 19 years as a local weekend weatherman, and has also been the voice of the Amarillo High School Sandies’ baseball games for more than 20 years. He was inducted into the Sandie Hall of Fame in 2011, and also serves on both the board of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and the advisory board of the Center for the Study of the American West.

Further information about AC and its events and programs can be found on its website.

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