Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Q&A: Mesalands 5th district trustee candidates

 

February 24, 2015

Elizabeth Estrada

There are two candidates, incumbent Elizabeth Estrada and challenger Jim Keith, running for the District 5 seat on the Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees. The victor will serve a six-year term.

The election will be held March 3.

The Quay County Sun asked both candidates the same five questions. Here, in alphabetical order, are the questions and their responses:

Elizabeth Estrada

Q. What are your three main reasons for seeking a seat on the Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees?

A.

1.To represent the community's interest in maintaining affordable, quality educational opportunities offered at Mesalands Community College.

2. To be a part of the College's commitment to changing lives, one student at a time.

3. To give back to the community I was born and raised in, by actively participating in strengthening one of the greatest assets our area has.

Q. What roles should Mesalands Community College play in the Tucumcari and Quay county communities?

A. The college is an economic driver for the community, providing educational training to meet workforce demands as well as affordable higher education opportunities for students. The college also provides educational services for high schools through dual enrollment as well as continuing education opportunities and access to GED testing for adults. The college, through its many programs, brings people to our county and city that would not otherwise contribute to our local economy.

Q. What are the top three issues facing Mesalands Community College today?

A.

1. The college faces challenges of maintaining a campus that is affordable and accessible to our community as state funding levels stay relatively flat.

2. The college needs to ensure that its programs continue to maintain high standards of quality in order to ensure the future success of its students.

3. The College needs to look for new programs that are in the best interest of students and the community in order to attract students to Mesalands as a college destination.

Q. What are the top three goals you would like Mesalands Community College to accomplish over the next six years?

A.

1. Continue the student growth that the college has experienced over the past 18 months.

2. Continue to work within our county and state in order to see the College as more of a driver for improved economic conditions in our community.

3. Improve our college facilities to include a housing option for students in order to bring people from outside our county to Tucumcari.

Q. What makes you the best candidate for the District 5 position on the Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees?

A. As a current trustee, having served in this capacity for over seven years, I have a solid and fundamental understanding of the college operation and its standards of excellence upheld by it's outstanding faculty and staff, and reflected in the lives of its students as they achieve their greatest life goals.

Trustee continuity at this time would be most beneficial to preserving the success of Mesalands Community College. In addition to my experience as a trustee, I have also served for over 14 years on the Mesalands Community College Foundation Board, actively participating in raising funds for student scholarships as well as for support and promotion of the college.

My career path of over 30 years experience in banking, including my current executive vice president position with Citizens Bank, provides knowledge and understanding of the financial aspects of the College.

Jim Keith

Q. What are your three main reasons for seeking a seat on the Mesalands

Community College board of trustees?

A. The recent action taken by the Higher Learning Commision and North Central Association where Mesalands was placed on Notice is disturbing. While I believe the College will have no trouble rising to the occasion by correcting the concerns that HLC and North Central have listed, it is alarming to consider the consequences, not only for the school but also to the entire surrounding community, should the unlikely event of losing accredition happen. The question remains as to how Mesalands was allowed to deteriorate to the point where NCA felt it was necessary to put Mesalands on Notice in the first place.

The proposed $8 million equine complex will be a tremendous asset to the college and the entire community. It will be an excellent opportunity to rejuvenate some equine programs that appear to be faltering and boost those that are currently doing well; plus it will be a fantastic chance to introduce new and unique courses that will be capable of drawing students from the entire world as well as the local area.

My experience with similar facilities in universities, community colleges, and private schools throughout the USA, Brazil, Canada, and Japan perhaps would be of some benefit in the planning and implementing of future programs.

Q. What roles should Mesalands Community College play in the Tucumcari and Quay County communities?

A. Symbiotic, of course. Mesalands is a very important part of the local economy and is one of the few entities that can easily expand its contribution to the local area. In turn, Tucumcari and Quay County should do everything they can to promote this area as a student-friendly

environment.

Q. What are the top three issues facing Mesalands Community College today?

A. An important concern is the removal of notice status issued by North Central Association by remedying the cause(s) for their concerns and prevent further unfavorable action by them. Mesalands needs to be a fully accredited college to continue and expand their role in Quay County and their service area.

As enrollment increases the availability of student housing will become an issue.

Recruiting and retaining qualified and commited faculty and students. People are what matters, much more than the amount of brick and mortar accumulated.

Q. What are the top three goals you would like Mesalands Community College to accomplish over the next six years?

A. Mesalands Community College has some great programs that have benefited many students, but judging from the numerous complaints expressed by former students, some areas of instruction could improve.

An important goal would be the adoption of a "value added" approach to education where every student would have their life benefited or enriched at Mesalands Community College regardless of the amount of time spent whether it be one day or two years. Mesalands must be commited to excellence!

Introduction of more unique and useful programs that would not normally be available at other post secondary institutions. Mesalands should assume a leadership role in post secondary education!

5. What makes you the best candidate for the District 5 position on The Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees?

Jim political

A. My experience in education, dedication to solving problems along with being a proven teacher, curriculum designer, entrepreneur, and proficiency in several trade areas will aid the board of trustees in formulating policies that will promote growth while maintaining stability.

While my feet have been firmly planted in the history of Mesalands Community College I am

eagerly looking forward to its bright future, and I do recognize the importance of Mesalands' contribution to Tucumcari and Quay County.

I would very much appreciate the opportunity to serve as a member of Mesalands Community Colleges's Board of Trustees. Thank you.

 

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