QCS Senior Writer
The final public forum was held Friday at Mesalands Community College with the last of three finalists in competition to become the college’s next president.
“If hired as Mesalands’ president,” Candidate Thomas W. Newsome said, “my first 100 days in office would consist of me acclimating myself with the community and New Mexico’s legislators, ” he said, adding, “I’m not afraid to go out there and knock on doors to further this college.”
Newsom said he and his wife own property in Angel Fire and have been traveling through eastern New Mexico for some time. He said he been serving as the Art Institute of Dallas’ president for the past 15 years.
Newsom said he was drawn to apply to be Mesalands’ president because of how invested the college is in the community. He said Mesalands offers unique programs such as the wind energy and farrier programs, which, he said, are crucial fields in this region.
“This community has a college they can be incredibly proud of,” Newsom said. “I am very impressed, being on the outside looking in.”
Newsom said he would be ‘highly dedicated” to building programs at Mesalands that help students make the transition between high school and college, and that he would work to assist students in continuing to higher education.
“That is part of a community college’s mission, to start the student on a path of higher education and success,” Newsom said. “It is the responsibility of the college to help students bridge that gap.”
Newsom said that as president of Mesalands, he would work on new ways to inform potential students about the courses, certification programs and degrees that are available at the college. He said the college needs find new, effective ways to use brochures, commercials and the Internet to promote the possible career preparation opportunities that await students at Mesalands.
Newsom said that while he would bring much strength through his experience as president of the Art Institute of Dallas, he admits he is not too knowledgeable about agriculture.
“I know that is very important and vital industry to this area,” Newsom said. “I will not say I am something I am not.”
He said, however, that he would do all that he could to understand those fields and how the college can make impact in those fields.
“The only way I will learn is to get out there (and) spend time with the ranchers, farmers and students vested in those fields,” Newsom said. “The other candidates may know more about those fields, though I feel I have a higher passion for education and for the need to be hands-on when it comes to learning.”
Newsom said his hands-on approach to teaching and learning is also a part of his management strategy. He said he would meet with staff to let them know what the expectations are to be a part of the college faculty and staff.
“I would strive to ensure they are the right fit for Mesalands,” Newsom said. “They must help the college move in the right direction and I must ensure they do not do injustice to the students or institution.”
Jim Streetman, trustee and presidential screening committee chairman said, “These public forums have been a success and we have had some great questions raised from the public and students.”
Streetman said there would be a special meeting of the board of trustees on Monday at 5:30 p.m., with an executive session to further discuss the candidates who visited Mesalands.
Streetman would not comment on whether the board would announce a decision Monday