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College History

Mesalands Community College was established as Tucumcari Area Vocational School (TAVS) under the Area Vocational School Act of New Mexico during the thirty-third Legislative Session of the State of New Mexico. In January 1979, an act of the Legislature authorized the establishment of an area vocational school in Tucumcari (Statutory Authority: Sections 21-17-1 through 21-17-17 NMSA 1978). The school was authorized to offer programs of vocational education leading to certificates and diplomas.

In November 1993, the institution was authorized by the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education to offer Associate of Applied Science degrees in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems.
In June 1994, the Commission on Higher Education authorized the College to offer the Associate of Applied Science degree for each of its technical/vocational programs. The degree programs were implemented in the fall semester of 1994.

In 1994, the Board of Trustees authorized Tucumcari Area Vocational School to begin doing business as Mesa Technical College in order to more accurately represent the institution to its varied constituents as a small community college.

In the fall semester 1995, Mesa Technical College implemented a pre-collegiate studies program and expanded its course offerings in general education. In the spring semester 1996, the College began expanding its offerings via distance learning, including the Electronic Distance Education Network (EDEN), a cooperative effort of the universities of New Mexico, PBS and the Internet.

In the spring semester 1996, the College developed programs in paleontology and geology. Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratories were planned, based on a partnership that developed between the College and the community in recognizing, owning, and promoting this region’s rich heritage as one of the premiere deposits of fossilized ancient life. The community continues to donate considerable time, energy, and resources to the museum for cataloging specimens and providing sites for further exploration. An outgrowth of planning for separate funding of the museum resulted in the establishment of Mesa Technical College Foundation, Inc., for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes.

On July 1, 1996, Mesa Technical College came under the direction of a new president, Dr. Phillip Barry, who instituted a concerted effort in strategic planning – a prerequisite to addressing institutional challenges and implementing effective change. The College’s new direction has manifested itself in significant changes, including the implementation of student assessment, institutional effectiveness, and curriculum development. The institution’s mission and goals were reviewed and revised, appropriate to Mesa’s new effort toward community college status.

The president also launched an intensive effort to earn accreditation from The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools. Administration, faculty, and staff set forth on a fast track to compress the two-year process normally needed to earn a site visit from NCA into a period of less than a year. In August 1997, these efforts were rewarded when NCA granted Mesa Technical College candidacy for accreditation. In August of 1999, Mesa was granted the status of initial accreditation by NCA, at which time the state allowed the College to begin offering the Associate of Arts degree. In 2004 Mesalands Community College received 10 years of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

In the fall of 1998, the College launched a new intercollegiate rodeo program in response to the desires of its students and the locale in which the College is situated. The success of this program led to the establishment of a livestock judging team in 2001.

With the College continuing to grow and mature, the College’s name was changed to more adequately reflect its mission. On September 11, 2001, the Board of Trustees renamed the institution Mesalands Community College.

In 2004 the College took to the airwaves when it designed and launched its Mesalands Telecommunication Network (MTN) and Implemented Digital Interactive Television (DITV). Then, in 2005, a Spanish language outreach radio program “La Voz” began airing twice weekly. That same year saw Building Trades start.
A new, expanded Health and Wellness Facility was added to Building A in 2007.

The North American Wind Research and Training Center was initiated in 2005. A commercial-grade, 1.5 megawatt General Electric wind turbine was erected on campus in 2008. During fall semester the same year, classes in Wind Energy Technology were initiated.

In the spring of 2010, Building G was expanded to include the President’s Office, the Board of Trustees Conference Room, four new classrooms, and the Bookstore.

In the fall of 2010, the North American Wind Research and Training Center, a 27,000 square foot building was dedicated.

In the spring of 2011 operations began in the new Wind Center.

In the spring of 2011, operations began in the new Wind Center.

In June 2011, Dr. Phillip O. Barry, President of Mesalands Community College, retired after 15 years of dedicated service.

On July 1, 2011, a new President was hired. In January 2013 the College began the third Presidential Search Process.