Second president finalist tours Mesalands
John Groesbeck hails from North Ogden, Utah.
June 20, 2018
The second finalist for Mesalands Community College's presidential search toured the campus on Thursday, ending his day answering questions from residents in a forum at the North American Wind Research and Training Center.
"I want to return to the academic sector, I know Tucumcari and eastern New Mexico and when I looked, Mesalands' president position was open," said John D. Groesbeck from North Ogden, Utah.
Groesbeck said he is familiar with Tucumcari, lived as close as Portales and knows the politics and economics of the state. He said his 25 years of experience in the academic sector will aid him in serving the board of trustees, students and community as president.
"Institutions receiving government funds have an obligation to engage with their communities," Groesbeck said. "My wife Janet and I have chosen to serve others through our work in higher education."
Groesbeck said he has experience working with the entities on issues that greatly impact communities including economic development, water policies, Agricultural water rights defense and land usage. He said he can not get too politicized as he used to as a faculty member when president, but he has a head for the issues impacting this region.
"However at the end of the day, my primary focus will be on teaching and learning," Groesbeck said. "We need to continue, expand on the programs that will enhance the enrollment at Mesalands."
Groesbeck said the college can best serve the community through increased enrollment. He said attracting a student to Mesalands even for just two years will have an impact on the economic and social structure of the community.
"Mesalands has unique programs, from wind energy, fine arts and ferrier science," Groesbeck said. "The key will be to expand those programs appeal as well as look into new courses like computer programming."
The future of agricultural curriculum and courses at Mesalands was a concern raised by local resident, farmer Phillip Box.
"Farm and ranch management courses would of course be a no-brainer in this area," Groesbeck said. "The reality of the issue is keeping up with issues facing that field and the global market's impacts."
Groesbeck said the bottom line for new or expanded courses is the cost of the program - including the facilities and infrastructure needed - and if it will attract enough students to justify that cost.
"Student debt is one of the biggest issues facing the youth as they pursue, complete their college education," said Cooper Glover, senior vice-president for Citizen's Bank. "As president would you be able to show the perspective student that their investment in their education at Mesalands would have a return on investment?"
Groesbeck said generally speaking the answer would be yes based on the national data. However, he said not all degrees are equal, and some offer higher returns than others.
"I would have to see where the students are flowing to and away from," Groesbeck said. "Upon completion, do the students have access to a job that previously was not available to them before?"
Groesbeck said Mesalands' wind energy program is an example of an investment that will provide a economic return for the student upon completion.
"If selected as the next president, I believe I have the experience and skills to help not only the college prosper, but the community as well," Groesbeck said.