Mesalands board makes no decision on president

By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer

The Mesalands Community College’s board made no decision during a special meeting Tuesday concerning hiring a presidential candidate.

The board left a nearly two-hour executive session to announce they are still in the process of reviewing the candidate’s information.

“We want to be thorough in choosing the next president of Mesalands,” said J Bronson Moore, chairman.

There is still some information the board needs to review before any type of a decision is made, said Jim Streetman, trustee and presidential screening committee chairman.

Streetman said another special meeting has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Friday. He said there is still some information being gathered by Rick Foley Investigations LLC, an Albuquerque-based firm hired by the trustees to conduct background and credit history checks on all applicants.

The three finalists for the vacancy are Kris Jamsa of Prescott, Ariz., Mark VanDenHende, Eugene, Ore., and Thomas W. Newsom, McKinney, Texas. Each was interviewed by the board of trustees and toured the college campus individually on June 24, 26 and 28.

Each candidate participated in public forums, allowing residents a chance to meet them and question them about their plans for Mesalands if hired.

Streetman said each of the candidates responded well to the questions and input from the public forum and each have unique qualities that would benefit the college.

The board of trustees declined to comment if a decision would be made following an executive session scheduled for Friday’s special meeting.

“We want to be sure we hire the best candidate which will help Mesalands grow and move forward,” Moore said.

Since Oct. 31, Natalie Gillard, vice president of academic affairs, and Aaron Kennedy, vice president of student affairs, shared oversight of the college’s daily operations.

Gillard and Kennedy were selected by the board of trustees to run the college following their unanimous vote to fire president Mildred Lovato. The decision followed an executive session held during a special meeting on Oct. 31.

The board hasn’t given a cause for Lovato’s termination.

The final public candidate forum was held last Friday at Mesalands Community College with the last of three finalists in competition to become the college’s next president.

“If hired as Mesalands’ president,” Candidate Thomas W. Newsome said, “my first 100 days in office would consist of me acclimating myself with the community and New Mexico’s legislators, ” adding, “I’m not afraid to go out there and knock on doors to further this college.”

Newsom said he and his wife own property in Angel Fire and have been traveling through eastern New Mexico for some time. He said he been serving as the Art Institute of Dallas’ president for the past 15 years.

Newsom said he was drawn to apply to be Mesalands’ president because of how invested the college is in the community. He said Mesalands offers unique programs such as the wind energy and farrier programs, which, he said, are crucial fields in this region.

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