QCS Senior Writer
The return of a CDL truck driving course may be among new programs at Mesalands Community College designed to train students for high-demand jobs and careers, according to President Thomas Newsom.
Newsom said along with reviewing current programs, the college is exploring new course areas that have a high level of job placement and demand.
Resurrecting the CDL program, he said, is one possibility the college is studying. Currently, Newsom said he envisions a partnership with a trucking company to ensure proper equipment is available. The college could restore its CDL training course west of its wind energy center in Tucumcari, he said.
“Statistics show that there is an increased demand for CDL drivers,” Newsom said. “Mesalands could produce the skilled drivers needed to fill those spots.”
As his second year as president approaches, Newsom said his administration is reviewing its curriculum of associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree preparation and certificate programs to ensure that programs remain affordable and can be completed within a reasonable time.
That, he said, is the best way to assure successful student outcomes.
“The true success of our institution is the outcome of our students,” Newsom said. “There are many pathways for success that students can pursue at Mesalands.”
For the coming year, he said, tuition and fees will remain flat for Mesalands students.
“We want to provide students with a high level of education, while making sure it remains affordable to them,” Newsom said. Keeping tuition and fees stable, he said, “may also help to continue the trend of increased enrollment we have seen from last year and over the summer break.”
Newsom said increased awareness about Mesalands has come through increased advertising, recruiting, and the college’s successful partnerships through the North American Wind Research and Training Center. The wind center, Newsom said, has brought Mesalands global attention.
He said GEO Group, Inc., which operates some state prisons, and the New Mexico Department of Corrections have expressed interest in increasing Mesalands’ presence at state correctional facilities.
Mesalands has also donated equipment and offered dual enrollment courses in programs such as wind energy studies to area high schools. Newsom said he hopes to increase the number of dual enrollment students.
Newsom said a strategic plan is also currently being developed to develop short-term and long-term outlooks for the college’s programs and facilities.
He said with current renovations in the main campus building’s heating and cooling systems and improvements funded by a $650,000 general obligation bond that voters will decide upon in September, the college will continue to provide best facilities for its programs.
Newsom said the college also continues to work with area organizations to expand educational opportunities.
A recent donation of $8,000 from the Xcel Energy Foundation will fund scholarships for students majoring in wind energy technology, said Kimberly Hanna, Mesalands’ director of public relations.
Hanna said this is the third donation Mesalands has received from the Xcel Energy Foundation. In all, the Xcel donations have totaled nearly $40,000, benefiting 23 wind energy technology students.
“Xcel Energy has made it a priority to invest in its communities,” Newsom said. “As a result, the company is making a positive impact on the local, regional, statewide, and national economy. We appreciate that Xcel Energy continues to support our students in helping them reach their educational and career goals.”
Newsom said the success of Mesalands’ rodeo team, which sent seven members to the College National Finals Rodeo on June 15-21 in Casper, Wyo., has helped shine attention on the college.
Mesalands’ rodeo team, he said, sent the second-largest number of representatives to the finals, trailing only New Mexico State University.
Mesalands will host two intercollegiate rodeos in Tucumcari next season.
“Mesalands was asked by the Grand Canyon Region to hold a second rodeo in the spring along with their original event scheduled for Oct. 10-11,” Newsom said.
Newsom said the date for the second rodeo has not been set. Mesalands’ October 2013 rodeo brought in 1,500 to 2,000 visitors to the area. He said the college expects higher numbers for the spring rodeo.
“These events bring people into our community and county,” Newsom said. “They draw in people who spend money locally, benefiting our area, which is one of Mesalands’ missions.”