Serving the High Plains

Busch submits resignation to MCC

Embattled and absent Mesalands Community College President Gregory Busch submitted a formal resignation letter, effective March 10, according to a news release this afternoon from the college.

Busch’s three-page resignation letter, which stated it was sent from Tucson, Arizona, was received through his attorney, stated Mesalands director of communications Josh McVey.

Busch and his wife, Workforce Development director Mary Beth Busch, left Tucumcari shortly after the college’s executive team, staff and faculty submitted no-confidence votes in early February. He look a medical leave, citing COVID-19 and Parkinson’s disease complications, and had not been seen on campus since.

Busch allegedly ignored warnings of Mesalands’ declining financial condition and threatened to fire employees if they revealed the state had placed the college under fiscal oversight, according to the Mesalands executive team. A mid-February letter from the New Mexico Higher Education Department to the state auditor and attorney general stated Busch might have broken laws, among other allegations.

The college’s board of trustees appointed Allen Moss as acting president of the college in mid-February. Mesalands since has imposed a solvency plan that includes a hiring freeze, progressive pay cuts to many staff, program consolidations and a request for millions in emergency funds from the state. At one point, the college's cash reserves were so drained that it had only enough money for one more pay period.

Busch stated in the resignation letter he was proud of the work he did at Mesalands and that he cared deeply for the students, college and Tucumcari.

He stated he learned early in his tenure in mid-2021 of the college’s financial troubles.

“When I arrived at Mesalands I was led to believe that the College was fiscally sound and fully in legal compliance and with accreditation,” he wrote. “By my third day, I developed concerns this was not true and immediately reported it to the Board. I was reassured and instructed to proceed in rectifying the issues.”

Busch stated Mesalands employees were not being properly compensated and that he was told to begin a review of their pay. After submitting the review, he said the board of trustees told him to implement salary increases in January 2022.

Busch said financial reports and audits at the college were “several years behind” when he was hired, with “no functional or valid operating budget supported by actual revenue, expenses, or legitimate data.”

He wrote an independent auditor’s report early this year “revealed 26 pages of fiscal and business noncompliance findings to be reported to the state auditor” that dated to the time of his hiring.

Busch stated “it was not until December-January I became more fully aware of the total severity of the fiscal situation” and that the college was in “noncompliance with more than two dozen federal, state, and accreditation laws, rules and regulations and that our employees and students were working and living in unsafe conditions.”

Busch also appeared to deny threatening to fire executive staff members if they revealed the college’s fiscal oversight by the state.

“I have never taken any termination steps of employees without a prior full review by College legal counsel and I have always followed his instructions and College policy in handling these situations,” he wrote.

“As a person living with an incurable disability, the avoidable burdens I inherited and the subsequent stress and harassment I have experienced have had an irreversible and degenerative impact on my health and exacerbated the progress of my chronic illness,” he concluded with the letter.

Mesalands had no comment about Busch's letter on Tuesday night.

Phone messages from the Quay County Sun to Busch's cellphone were not returned.

We’ll have more in a future edition of the Sun.

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