Chair authorized to pursue plan to find president
August 19, 2020
The Mesalands Community College board of trustees last week authorized its chairman to pursue a plan for a presidential search and have conversations to fill a vacant trustee position.
Trustees during a special meeting Aug. 11 unanimously voted to authorize Jim Streetman to meet with other college employees to discuss the search for a new president to replace John Groesbeck, who was fired in April.
Streetman also is seeking someone to partially fill the term of Craig Currell, who died last month after an extended illness.
The actions came after a 45-minute executive session to discuss limited personnel matters and litigation. The moves were expected after Streetman discussed them during a previous special meeting earlier in the month.
Streetman, reached by phone a day after the meeting, said he planned to form a presidential search committee consisting of faculty, staff members, Mesalands Community College Foundation members, board of trustee members and residents.
Streetman said he hoped to have the search committee formed by the board’s next regular meeting Aug. 18, but it could take longer.
As for hiring a new president, Streetman said he hoped to have it done in as soon as three months but admitted that could take longer, as well.
“I hesitate to even put a time frame on it,” he said.
Natalie Gillard, vice president of academic affairs, is serving as the college’s interim president, the second time in less than a decade she has done so.
Groesbeck was placed on indefinite paid administrative leave without explanation in March after a closed session during a board of trustees meeting. He was fired without explanation during the trustees’ next meeting in April.
Groesbeck filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the college in July. He stated he confronted foundation members, many whom are on the board of trustees, at a board meeting March 3 about allegations of improper distribution of federal grant funds, fraudulent property leases and improper appropriations to the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum. He also alleged overpayments to some faculty members.
A general counsel with the state’s Higher Education Department said last month the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and Office of State Auditor are investigating Groesbeck’s claims.
Currell won re-election for a six-year term in November. The person chosen to fill Currell’s seat would have to win an election in November 2021 to fill the final four years of his term.
Streetman said he had several candidates in mind for Currell’s post.
“We’ve had several people approach us, and I need to see how serious they are about it,” he said.
Streetman said the board could appoint a new member to the board of trustees as soon as its Aug. 18 meeting.