Serving the High Plains

Mesalands graduation to be virtual again

Josh McVey, Mesalands Community College’s vice president of public relations, told the college’s board of directors during its April 19 meeting that spring commencement would take place virtually for the third straight year.

The graduation ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 13.

Contacted by the Quay County Sun after the meeting, McVey said Mesalands’ graduation next month will be virtual “due to construction and availability issues.”

“All Tucumcari venues that were large enough and within the determined guidelines were either already booked or under construction,” McVey stated. “There were many factors beyond our control that forced last-minute changes.”

Among the construction projects are $1.2 million in improvements coming to the campus’ Building A.

McVey added that college President Gregg Busch “was very saddened to be unable to return to live events he had planned and made many attempts to save them, but at every turn, a new barrier arose.”

“We wish life didn’t give us lemons but when it does, the president believes we should persevere and fight against odds to make lemonade,” McVey added.

Spring commencements in 2020 and 2021 also were virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

McVey stated he would include 2022 graduates in a celebration next year that will include commencement, awards celebrations and a golf tournament.

The speaker at next month’s ceremony will be former state senator Clinton Harden, now a Clovis-based lobbyist.

McVey said a watch party for the ceremony would be held in the lecture hall of the college’s wind energy center, with a reception afterward.

In other business:

• Maria Haase, executive director of Hispanic outreach and student support, said the college would resume its Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5. Among the activities are pinata hitting for children, face painting by art instructors and students, esports and free snacks and soft drinks.

• The board scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. April 28 to approve a budget for fiscal year 2023. Busch said a regular audit of the college also should be complete by late May.

• Mary Beth Busch, executive director of Workforce Development, said the college’s commercial driver’s license program was expanding, with the possible addition of a corporate client.

• President Busch introduced several new Mesalands employees: chief financial officer and executive director of business services Stephanie Otero, executive director of student life and housing Chris Jones and executive director of admissions and registrar Daniel Shaw.

Otero is a Tucumcari High School graduate who formerly was a chief financial officer of a food bank in California.

• The board held a closed executive session with the president for about 1 hour, 20 minutes, to discuss personnel, litigation and real estate matters. The board took no action when open session resumed.