By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Mesalands Community College’s new president has spent his first month in office meeting with the public, officials and faculty in order to discuss new ways to help increase the success of the institution and community.
“A college’s success is measured on helping our students to become employable or helping them prepare to pursue a higher degree upon graduation,” said Thomas Newsom, president of Mesalands.
Newsom said the main goal of the administration, board of trustees, faculty and staff will be the success of their students. He said Mesalands is going to take every step and explore every initiative to provide those students with the instruction, course options and facilities they will need to become successful.
Newsom said he has been meeting with local high school superintendents to discuss the possibility of offering new dual enrollment agreements with Mesalands or expanding existing dual enrollment opportunities. He said by working hand-in-hand with local high schools to offer courses that give both college and high school credit, the college and the high schools can ensure that students are better prepared and further along in their pursuit of college credentials upon graduation.
Newsom said Mesalands’ latest partnership with Vaughn High School is an example of dual enrollment benefits. It gives the high school students an edge by offering wind energy college credits before they receive their diplomas, he said.
Wind energy, he said, “is an expanding field with new and exciting opportunities forecasted in New Mexico and surrounding states.”
Newsom said the college is also looking into possible partnerships with numerous universities across the state. He said partnering with larger universities would provide local high school graduates more cost-effective opportunities to complete their general education courses at Mesalands before they enroll at four-year colleges.
Newsom said during his first month he has recognized potential for expansion of the existing wind energy programs offered at Mesalands. He said one opportunity Mesalands wind program should align with is the construction of the Tres Amigas Superstation in Curry County.
The Tres Amigas project would merge the nation’s three major power grids (Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection) and allow for power transfer between them. This would also allow New Mexico to move electric power produced from solar and wind facilities to utilities in areas that don’t have strong solar and wind resources but have federal and state mandates to deliver certain percentages of renewable energy to their customers.
Newsom said Mesalands needs to take steps to prepare for this landmark opportunity that will increase the demand for skilled and certified laborers in the wind energy field.
Newsom said he needs more time to examine existing programs and courses that Mesalands offers to determine if their is a better way to market these programs to students interested in those fields. He said, for example, that there is a great need to expand enrollment in Equine Science programs to supply more graduates who can provide these services to the surrounding community.
Newsom said he wants to improve upon the strengths of Mesalands’ existing programs before he considers adding new fields to the college. He said there is a great deal of potential to help the community and state by adding strength to the existing programs.
Newsom said on top of curriculum examination, policy review/revision and interacting with the college’s faculty, he has been working to improve relations between the college and the community.
“I have made it a priority to meet with local, state and federal officials to work towards the success of the college, Tucumcari and Quay County,” Newsom said.
Newsom said he is going to be aggressive in partnering with the city and county to bring economic opportunities to the area. He said the college could possibly offer incentives to manufacturing companies looking to expand to locate facilities in Tucumcari/Quay County.
Newsom said the college and local entities could collaborate to offer these companies viable locations for their facilites, along with training and certification to ensure they can develop a skilled, local workforce.