Serving the High Plains

MCC receives $2.7M for nursing program

The Mesalands Community College board of trustees approved a $2 million endowment and another $700,000 for supplemental faculty salaries and equipment — both for its forthcoming nursing program.

Blanca Pauliukevicius, the college’s chief financial officer and senior executive director of business services, said during the board’s Dec. 13 meeting the $2 million endowment recently had been deposited in one of Mesalands’ bank accounts.

She said she was consulting with the state’s Higher Education Department on how to invest the money. Earnings will be used to cover faculty salaries.

Shannon Fries, director of nursing, announced the endowment in August.

The college plans to begin offering pre-nursing courses in the fall 2023 and nursing courses in spring 2024, with an emphasis in rural medicine.

With the $700,000 grant, $500,000 will be used to purchase materials for the nursing program and $200,000 in recurring funds for faculty.

The nursing program received a perfect score from a visiting Higher Education Commission accreditation team earlier this fall.

Offering a nursing program had been a goal of the last two Mesalands presidents.

In a related matter, the board approved a $138,118.53 purchase requisition from Gaumard Scientific Co. of Miami for mannequins that will be used in the nursing program.

In other action:

— The board approved an annual purchase requisition of $55,452 with Jenzabar of Boston for the college’s enterprise resource planning system.

Chief information officer Jason Nemrow said he was investigating whether the college should remain with Jenzabar or go with another system.

Nemrow said he revived the college’s technology committee to receive input from faculty and staff. He said he wants to assess Mesalands’ cybersecurity and strengthen its system against hacking attacks.

— The board approved a purchase requisition of $103,554.75 from the Collaborative for Higher Education Shared Services, or CHESS. Busch said it was the final payment before leaving the group, which included five other colleges in New Mexico.

— The board approved several forms, notices and agreements to ensure the college remains in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

— Busch announced Carlos Medina had been hired as the college’s coordinator of academic outreach.

— Rodeo coach Matt Hughes said in his annual report the team was “off to a good start” and had finished in the top four in its first four events. Several athletes ranked first or second in the regional standings, despite many of them being freshmen.

Hughes said the program for the first time had hired an entertainer for its annual fall rodeo. He said the entertainer sparked more interest in the event and was optimistic it would lead to attendance growth.

— The board and several employees met in a closed, two-hour executive session to discuss personnel matters, litigation and real estate matters. No action was taken when open session resumed.