Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

College headcount declines


November 20, 2019

An annual enrollment report showed Mesalands Community College saw a small decrease in headcounts and full-time equivalency students in 2018-2019 compared to the previous year.

Aaron Kennedy, vice president of student affairs, presented the report during the college’s regular board of trustees meeting Nov. 12.

The headcount of students fell from 2,549 in 2017-2018 to 2,483 the following year, a 2.6% decline. The decline occurred after five straight years of increases.

The number of full-time equivalency students dropped from 1,123 to 1,072 during the same period, a decrease of 4.5%.

The report’s introduction noted Quay County’s nearly 30% population decline since the 1950s. “… It is critical to continually develop new methods of expanding its student base within and beyond the local geographic boundaries,” the report stated.

College enrollment in general in the U.S. has declined for eight straight years, according to a report in May by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Kennedy previously has noted enrollment at community colleges typically fall during good economic conditions.

Kennedy pointed out an increase in the number of honors students. Mesalands’ graduation rate also climbed from 43% in 2016-2017 to 49% in the previous school year.

Kennedy noted the decline in the percentage of female graduates from 39.3% in 2016-2017 to 23% the previous school year. He attributed that to the rodeo and wind-energy programs, which primarily attract male students. He said the fact Mesalands also offers courses to prison inmates — also largely male — also skew the numbers.

In other business during the meeting:

• College President John Groesbeck and Natalie Gillard, vice president of academic affairs, detailed the college’s efforts to expand its wind-energy program.

They said Torrance County had approved a mobile wind-energy program there, and the college had applied for a $450,000 grant to start a similar program in Otero and Lincoln counties.

Groesbeck said FieldCore, a subsidiary of General Electric, also would send more than 250 trainees to Mesalands, partly because of the college’s recently acquired on-ground nacelle salvaged from a wind turbine.

• Gillard said the New Mexico Nursing Board recently approved the college’s feasibility study for a nursing program. Next would be submitting an application in to the state’s Nursing Education Advisory Board before Christmas. The college hopes to begin offering nurse training by fall 2021.

Gillard said the college is looking at offering classes for addiction counseling and medical lab technicians.

• The board approved the college’s annual financial aid award report for 2018-2019. During that year, Mesalands had received 80% of its student financial aid from federal sources, 8% each from state and institutions and 4% from third parties of a total of $1.26 million for 210 students.

• The board approved a revision of the “Selection of New Employees” section of the personnel handbook that Groesbeck said was redundant in its previous edition.

• Matt Hughes, coach of the rodeo team, said his squad “didn’t do the best” during its home Grand Canyon Region rodeo at the Quay County fairgrounds but was encouraged by stronger-than-expected performances from his lower-tier athletes.

Hughes said under the current standings, two bull riders, one team roper and one bareback rider from Mesalands would qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo. Final berths won’t be announced until after the season ends in the spring.

Hughes said recruiting was going well, with three athletes who have given verbal intent to sign with Mesalands months before the official signing date.

• Gillard said Mesalands would begin offering classes in the spring at Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton after the state took it over from Geo Group.

• Groesbeck said the Haunted Museum event on Halloween night at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum drew about 475 paid customers, plus about 150 who attended other events outside the museum.

• Kennedy said the college’s field trips for students had proven popular, and Mesalands was planning more outings, including activities on-campus.

• The college received a thank-you letter from Mark Hilliard, associated professor of art and art education at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, for help from Mesalands fire-arts faculty members to establish a foundry there.

• A 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraiser recently raised more than $500 for the college’s newly established golf team.

• Groesbeck said a preliminary audit said the college was “in excellent shape financially.”

• The board of trustees went into a 45-minute executive session and took no action when open session resumed.


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