Dr. Thomas W. Newsom, President
Dr. Thomas Newsom is the newly appointed president of Mesalands Community College, as of July 11, 2013. He previously served as the president of The Art Institute of Dallas since 2010, with additional responsibilities as Vice Chancellor of South University since 2011. As President of the Dallas campus, Dr. Newsom lead a regionally accredited, Southern Association of College and Schools, campus, awarding Masters, Bachelors, and Associate degrees in 19 different disciplines. During Dr. Newsom’s presidency, the college experienced unprecedented student growth, new program implementation, including matriculation of the first graduate students, and completion of a campus-wide renovation project.
In 2000, Dr. Newsom joined the Art Institutes, and served in various roles with the organization. Dr. Newsom began as the Director of Public Relations at the Dallas campus and then was promoted to Dean of Students. From there he was named Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs for the system of schools, before being named system Vice President of Student Affairs. Dr. Newsom returned to lead a campus in 2007 as the founding President at The Art Institute of Austin, where he served for just over a year, before being named President at the Dallas campus.
The Dallas campus is one of the original schools in the Art Institute system and prior to merging with South University, under Dr. Newsom’s leadership, was an independently accredited institution with an autonomous board of trustees and a branch campus in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dr. Newsom has served more than 20 years in higher education. His career started at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he was the school’s first full-time Assistant Sports Information Director from 1991 through 1993. He served in the same role at Baylor University until 1996, when he moved to the Southland Conference office as Director of Media Relations. Dr. Newsom briefly moved away from education from 1997 to 2000, as the owner and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Little Elm, Texas.
Dr. Newsom earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, a master’s degree in secondary and higher education from Texas A&M University-Commerce, and a Ph.D. in higher education from The University of North Texas.
Ms. Natalie Gillard, Vice President of Academic Affairs
Ms. Natalie Gillard became the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Mesalands Community College in July 2010. Prior to serving as the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Ms. Gillard served as the Associate Dean of Instructional and Administrative Services for four years. Before that Ms. Gillard began her tenure at the College serving as the Business Administration Lead Faculty Member and the Division Chair of Arts and Sciences for twelve years.
In addition to Academic Affairs, Ms. Gillard has been actively involved in all aspects of the College, with a primary focus on the regional accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission from candidacy to reaffirmation. Ms. Gillard has been working in higher education since 1994. Ms. Gillard earned both her B.B.A. and M.B.A. from East Texas State University dba Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Dr. Aaron Kennedy, Vice President of Student Affairs
Dr. Aaron Kennedy became the Vice President of Student Affairs at Mesalands Community College in July of 2007. The Student Affairs area is comprised of Enrollment Management, Recruiting, Student Activities, Student Clubs and Organizations, and other student-related areas. As a member of the Executive Team, Dr. Kennedy has responsibilities across the campus, and is involved in many campus-wide committees and projects. Dr. Kennedy earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, and has been working in higher education since 1992.
Ms. Amanda Hammer, Director of Business and Auxiliary Services
Ms. Amanda Hammer graduated from Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado in May 1998 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration, Finance and Economics. She started with The First National Bank of New Mexico in Raton and then transferred to the Tucumcari branch to be a loan officer.
Ms. Hammer started at Mesalands Community College as the Business Manager in May 2004. In July 2006, she was transferred to Director of Financial Aid. While in this position, she became very active in the New Mexico Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and served as President in 2011.
Ms. Hammer was hired as the Director of Business and Auxiliary Services in late October 2013. She oversees the Business Office, College Stores, and Financial Aid.