Mesalands set for graudation ceremonies

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Plans are set for Mesalands Community College’s graduation ceremonies Friday, school officials said at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The college will have two sets of graduations, both Friday afternoon at the Tucumcari High School Auditorium. The first is the 4 p.m. general equivalency diploma (GED) graduation program, followed by the 6 p.m. college graduation program.

Mesalands Media Relations Director John Yearout said about 75 students were scheduled to be part of graduation ceremonies, but added that many graduates will choose not to “walk,” or attend the graduation ceremony.

Tucumcari Mayor Mary Mayfield is the scheduled speaker for the GED graduation ceremony, while State Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, will speak at the college graduation.

Yearout said there was another special presentation set for the ceremony, but would not elaborate on who or what else was involved.

During Tuesday’s meeting, MCC President Phillip Barry said he was in the process of setting up a meeting with Gov. Bill Richardson in regard to the proposed North American Wind Research and Training Center.

Barry said he has worked with representatives from New Mexico State University and Sandia National Laboratories on creating NAWRTC near Tucumcari for use by MCC students as part of a wind energy curriculum formulated with the help of many power companies across the nation.

With Richardson expressing a desire to focus on renewable energy, Barry thought working with the governor could help MCC officials determine how to get the $12 million in funding for the project.

“He appeared to have some interest in Tucumcari when he was here (for an April 24 town hall meeting),” Barry said.

Board member Ted Peabody joked that Barry might have killed some of that interest by telling Richardson the project’s price tag during the town hall meeting.

In other business at the meeting:

• Board members heard a report on distance education and online classes from Distance Education Coordinator Nancy Nydam. Nydam said of MCC’s 4,632 credit hours in the spring 2006 semester, 1,292 were through distance education.

Nydam said the rate of students taking distance education classes has risen from 6 percent of total enrollment in 2002-03 to 32 percent in 2005-06.

Of the 1,292 distance education hours this semester, Nydam said 1,026 of them were taken by students living in Tucumcari or Logan.

“Even our local students are taking the (online) classes for ease of employment reasons, family time, gasoline prices and a lot of other factors that come into students’ lives,” Nydam said.

Barry added that he has had discussions with many students who have completed their MCC degree taking only online classes.

• The board approved numerous budget adjustments to reflect positive changes following the college’s annual audit. The school was able to add $637,993 to its overall budget for a revised total of $6,768,654.

Dean of Administrative Services David Gallatin said much of the increase was due to frugality over the last few years.

• Board member Jim Streetman referred school officials to an Albuquerque Journal article about a New Mexico student’s disaster scenario for an avian flu outbreak in the United States. Streetman felt it was important for the college to be prepared for such a situation, since closing schools would be one of the easiest ways to slow down the spread of any sickness.