By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Mesalands Community College’s new president Thomas Newsom attended his first regular meeting of the college’s board of trustees Aug. 13 via webcam.
Newsom, who took over as president of Mesalands effective Aug. 1, was unable to attend the meeting in person because he was in McKinney, Texas, addressing a few issues before he and his family move to Tucumcari.
Newsom said on Monday he and his family would officially become residents of Tucumcari full time. He said he is ready to begin his duties as Mesalands’ president and fully intends on being at the next board of trustees meeting in person.
Newsom said while he will be in town Monday, he will travel later in the week to Santa Fe and Albuquerque to attend conferences and meet with New Mexico Higher Education Department Cabinet Secretary Jose Garcia.
At the Aug. 13 meeting, the board discussed a program review of Mesalands’ Wind Energy Technology Program.
There is a drop in enrollment numbers that is shown in the data collected for the fall of 2012, said Jim Streetman, trustee secretary.
“In general since we started the WEP there has been a decline in the degree program due to the fact so many colleges are now offering the program,” said Jim Morgan, director of the North American Wind Research and Training Center on campus.
Morgan said when Mesalands started its program there were around five institutions that had wind energy programs. That resulted in people traveling to Tucumcari to enroll in courses in the rapidly growing field.
He said following the passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act the number of institutions offering wind energy programs increased to more than 200.
Morgan said another factor that has adversely affected the wind energy field is reduced federal commitment and support for renewable energy initiatives, including the clean energy production tax credit that is scheduled to expire in 2016. He said this has cause some foreign wind energy companies to scale back or suspend production and operations in the U.S.
Morgan said while many of these issues are beyond Mesalands’ control, what Mesalands can do is highlight the uniqueness of its wind energy program. He said one of Mesalands’ main attractions is that the wind turbine located next to the college allows hands on training opportunities not offered at many other institutions.
Morgan said the enrollment numbers might also see a boost, because a significant number of Mesalands’ wind energy certificate holders are returning to the college to complete their degrees.
Other items before the trustees included contract confirmations for:
• Timothy Abbot interim rodeo coach
• Gregg Howard English communications
• Robert Moreau Jr. art faculty
• Todd Morris library director
• Mark Murmer, STEM grant match success specialist
• Arlene Supple Business administration faculty
• Staci Stanbrough Animal science/assitant rodeo coach
Other action taken:
• Review and approval of the 2011-2012 audit.
• Approved the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan for 2015-2019.
• Approved $340,000 for repairs on building C including the roof.
• Approved $312,000 for pedestrian accessibility and way finding improvements, including increased wheel chair access and a sign on Route 66 announcing the college.