The Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees is awaiting quotes from several national hiring firms to evaluate candidates for a new college president.
Mesalands President Phillip Barry said the board may name a new president as early as April, and that he was prepared to stay in his position until late fall 2011 to provide the board time to find the right applicant.
Barry said he advised the board of trustees in January 2009 not to renew his contract because he planned to retire. He said he will step down as soon as the new president is able to take over the position.
J. Bronson Moore, chairman of the board of trustees, said the selection of a new president is critical to Mesalands’ continued success.
“We're going to be really careful about the decision. A lot of things could make us or break us,” Moore said. “The college is the best thing Tucumcari's got going for it.”
As a leader, Moore compared Barry to a commanding officer he had before the Vietnam War.
“He's going to get the job done. He may not be the most popular individual at the time getting it done, but afterwards you can look back and see the accomplishment, what he's done,” Moore said.
Barry, president of Mesalands for 15 years, said it is sometimes lonely at the top.
“Ultimately I’d like to be liked by everyone, but when you're a decision maker and you're moving an institution forward, a lot of times you'll make decisions that don't make you very popular,” Barry said.
Since trustees’ last national search for a Mesa Technical College president in 1996, the school has grown to a community college, becoming an accredited institution in 1999 which allowed students to apply for federal financial aid and boosted enrollment. The Higher Learning Comission renewed Mesalands’ accreditation for 10 years in 2004.
According to Barry, some highlights of his career at Mesalands include its re-designation as a community college, the wind energy program, and the launch of “La Voz” radio program in 2005.
The Chicago native said he planned to move to Michigan after retiring to fish and spend more time with his family. Moore said Barry effectively worked with college faculty, staff and trustees to implement changes vital to the success of the institution.
“If he hadn't come along when he did, and the board at that time hadn't hired him, the college would not be here today, I'm sure,” Moore said. “Not even as a vocational school.”
Barry credits the school’s growth to strategic planning initiatives, research-based plans of action. He said the decision to implement the North American Wind Research and Training Center in 2005 was based on an “environmental scan” of issues affecting international, national, state, regional, county and city spheres. The scan emphasized problems like global warming and the depletion of fossil fuels.
“We don't do things most of the time that aren't based on data. One of the keys to the success of the college has been developing a strategic plan that included all of the employees, getting the board of trustees to approve it, and then being held accountable to make sure that it's done,” Barry said.
He said he was “kind of excited” to see Mesalands change in years to come and has high hopes for the college’s future.
“When I look back five years from now, I would like to be able to have seen that the college has been reaccredited for another number of years ... that the dinosaur museum continues and that the wind center is successful, and maybe add some new renewable energy programs, like solar or geothermal or hydrogen,” Barry said.