President Thomas Newsom aims to make Mesalands Community College a destination for students to earn a high school diploma, a certification or associate’s degree and launch a career or pursue additional credentials.
Newsom said he has been visiting with presidents of community colleges and universities both in and out of state to forge relationships that will improve Mesalands students’ prospects, whether they seek careers or further education.
“The only way to measure the success of a college’s or university’s programs is for their graduating students to have positive outcomes,” Newsom said. Positive outcomes, he said, include job placements and strong career paths.
Newsom said the college has recently partnered with the University of New Mexico to offer Mesalands’ wind energy students a two-plus-two opportunity. Under a two-plus-two, he said, wind energy students who receive an associate’s degree at Mesalands would also earn enough credit with UNM to finish a bachelor’s degree within two years in business or engineering, with emphasis in wind energy.
“I feel there are opportunities to develop similar relationships with other universities in the state,” Newsom said.
Mesalands has even begun discussions with Texas Tech University in Lubbock, he said.
Newsom said he has been working with Mesalands’ faculty, staff and students to develop a long- range strategic plan for the college. He said efforts have also begun to create a facilities master plan to identify all of the resources Mesalands has available and make them more productive for students.
An example is the building trades program, which Newsom has restored after it had been dormant for several years. In the past, the program had offered dual enrollment classes, in which high school students could receive both high school and college credit, as well as certification and skills training course schedules for college students.
“We have only had a few students enroll in the program but are optimistic about the program’s future,” Newsom said.
Newsom said the college wants to strengthen its existing programs for both existing and potential students. He has been working with staff and faculty to develop more new curriculum programs, he said, some of which are awaiting approvals from the college board of trustees, and state and national accreditation agencies.
One potential program that has received board of trustees approval is a gunsmithing school, Newsom said. This program would include both traditional gunsmithing — basic training in crafting firearms — and artistic gunsmithing. The artistic gunsmithing classes would emphasize engraving and appeal to arts students already enrolled at Mesalands, Newsom said.
To increase Mesalands’ appeal to existing and potential students, Newsome has emphasized public outreach programs and community events, such as the annual Iron Pour and intercollegiate rodeo competitions.
“I always take time to thank those who have attended the events,” Newsom said. “I also ask that when they return to their homes they remember and spread the word on the events and opportunities available at Mesalands.”
Newsom said Mesalands’ off-campus and prison education programs have enhanced awareness of the college outside of Tucumcari and Quay County. Despite the effectiveness of these programs in enhancing the college’s reputation, there is still much more that can be done to attract new students to Mesalands, Newsom said.
“We want to encourage students to stay in New Mexico when it comes to their continuing education,” Newsom said. “At the same time we want to appeal to students outside the region to make Mesalands a destination for educational success.