Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Mesalands president says he hopes to establish golf team


August 28, 2019

Mesalands Community College’s president told his board of trustees Aug. 20 he is looking at establishing a golf team by the new year.

“We want to have a team by January,” college President John Groesbeck said after the meeting when asked about a timetable. The Mesalands golf team would play during the spring.

Groesbeck said Mesalands would compete at a club-team level in the Southwest region that includes schools from Arizona and southern Colorado.

He said it would play in a minimum of three tournaments and can compete as a guest team at NCAA-sanctioned events, including at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

Groesbeck said Mesalands would offer a few scholarships, and it is seeking 10 men or women on the squad. He said a team fits into the college’s long-term goal to have more full-time students living in Tucumcari.

Groesbeck said he was hopeful he would announce a coach by October.

In other business:

• The board approved a bid of $47,291 from Crane Service Inc. of Albuquerque to transport a 135,000-pound wind-turbine nacelle from Garden City, Kansas, to the college. The nacelle houses the generating components of the turbine, including the generator, gearbox, drive train and brake. The wind-energy program will use the nacelle for training. The money to move the nacelle will come from $350,000 in capital-outlay money given by the New Mexico Legislature to the college’s integrated renewable energy program. A wind farm didn’t use the nacelle because it had broken from its restraining bolts on a railroad car while being transported.

• Groesbeck said he is pursuing discussions with a university or college to create a branch ROTC unit at Mesalands.

• Aaron Kennedy, vice president of student affairs, presented the annual enrollment report and enrollment plan. One of the report states the college’s headcount in 2018-2019 fell 2.6% and total credits dropped by 1.7% from the previous year. He said that reflects a strong economy, as enrollment at all universities fall. As a comparison, he said the University of New Mexico saw a 16% drop in students, and six East Coast campuses have closed. In the fall-to-spring school year, Mesalands has retained 70-81% of its students in the last five years. Mesalands in the last five years also boasts a graduation rate more than double the state community college average.

Kennedy noted Mesalands has a lower fall-to-fall retention rate, which reflects students who’ve earned a certificate or who are using only one or two classes to boost their skills. He said community colleges are judged on the same standards as four-year universities.

“As a two-year college, we are penalized for doing what we’re supposed to do,” he said. Groesbeck said the state is reconsidering changes to its evaluations of community colleges for that reason.

• The board approved the purchase of a 15-passenger Chevrolet van for $32,297 from Melloy Chevrolet of Los Lunas. The van will be used for outdoor outings, plus the school’s rodeo and golf teams.

• The board approved the purchase of 200 electrical circuits for $22,260 from Simutech Multimedia of Ottawa. They will be used for the wind-energy mobile laboratory that will include online simulations. On a related note, the board also approved a Mesalands research project with Torrance County to establish a wind-energy mobile training unit there.

• Tammy Hall, the college’s human resources specialist, outlined changes to the personnel handbook for 2019-2020. She said most alterations reflected personnel changes, revised organizational charts, adjunct contracts and other corrections. The board approved the handbook and, later in the meeting, an administrative affairs handbook that also contained minor revisions.

— Natalie Gillard, vide president of academic affairs, said the Higher Learning Commission is recommending the college maintain its accreditation with no notices, no probation and no sanctions.

• Loni Monahan, the new director of the college’s Dinosaur Museum, in her annual report said the museum saw a 14% increase in revenue this summer because of an increase in the admission fee from $6.50 to $8. The museum also is working on being in a museums card that will give $1 off admission.

Monahan said the museum’s tourism rack cards were redesigned for the first time in 10 years, and she was pursuing the painting of giant dinosaur tracks from the Interstate 40 exit on First Street to the museum to guide travelers. She is looking at adding billboards, including one in the 1600 block of first Street, to advertise the museum.

Monahan said it will host a Fall Fossil Festival on Oct. 12, hold live demonstrations each Saturday in the laboratory and add a QR code on displays so visitors can access more stories about them on their smartphones. The museum also will host a haunted house for Halloween for $5 admission.

• Josh McVey, a new member of the internet communications faculty, told the board he was streamlining Mesalands’ online education programs and improving the Dinosaur Museum’s online store, including selling specialty items such as fossil molds.

McVey said he would consult with Tucumcari businesses to build websites for them and beef up their social-media presence. He said those businesses would have the added benefit of the websites being hosted by Mesalands.


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