Mesalands welcomes new faculty

August 31, 2015

Mesalands Community College is pleased to welcome four new full-time faculty members to the campus and announces new roles for returning members.

New faculty

Paul Leonard, a native of Tucumcari, joins Mesalands as the Farrier Science Faculty Member. Leonard holds an associate’s degree and has more than 20 years of experience as a farrier. He is also a U.S. Navy veteran. Leonard says his number one concern is the importance of safety for his students, as well as the humane treatment of animals. He has a good concept of animal health and well-being and recognizes sickness in cattle and horses. Leonard says he hopes his students will be able to take what they learn in class and use it in their future careers.

Joining the Fine Arts Department Faculty is Joel Kiser from Levelland, TX. Kiser holds a master’s and a bachelor’s degree and has over 10 years of experience in the foundry process. He also has extensive experience building foundry furnaces and ceramic kilns. Kiser participated in multiple iron pours at Mesalands under the instruction of Fine Arts Faculty Member D’Jean Jawrunner. He says Jawrunner is not only an amazing educator and artist, but she is also a legacy. Kiser says he plans to work with Jawrunner to document the history of the foundry at Mesalands and celebrate this larger than life story. He also says he looks forward to giving his students the technical tools and skills, not only to make beautiful pieces of art, but also to reach their future goals.

Philip Tafone, from Los Angeles, CA, joins the College as the new Health and Wellness Facility Coordinator/Faculty. Tafone has a master’s and a bachelor’s degree and over six years of experience as a personal trainer and a fitness manager. He is also knowledgeable about the fitness industry, the certification industry, and the regulations that exist between them. Tafone says he likes to encourage students of all ages to develop their own voice, by finding ways to relate health topics to their personal lives. He says he is very enthusiastic about the opportunity to teach such a diverse group of students at Mesalands.

Andrew (Andy) Swapp from Milford, UT, joins the Wind Energy Technology Faculty. Swapp has a master’s and a bachelor’s degree and 15 years of teaching experience. He has taught skilled and technical science (shop), engineering, and renewable energy classes. He has experience teaching at the K-12 and community college levels. Swapp is also a U.S. Army Infantry veteran. Swapp says he is most excited about helping his students secure employment, in the wind or renewable energy industry. He says their success is his success.

New Roles for Returning and Former Faculty

Nine-year veteran Faculty Member Eddy Mardis has moved into a new role as the dedicated Silversmithing Faculty. In his former position, Mardis was dual-faculty in the Farrier Science and Silversmithing Departments. Mardis holds a bachelor’s degree and over 20 years of teaching experience. Mardis and Natalie Gillard, Vice President of Academic Affairs, began the Silversmithing program at Mesalands in 2008 and the program has grown into one that requires a dedicated full-time faculty member. This unique program offers hands-on creative experience in custom designing, fabricating, and engraving. As a nationally recognized engraver and spur maker, Mardis understands the knowledge and hands-on welding skills students acquire in this program. He says these skills equip students for a variety of career opportunities.

Tom Morris is the new Director of Career Services, Persistence and Student Success. In his new role, Morris will focus on campus-wide initiatives that foster and increase student success. For the last seven years, Morris was the Health and Wellness Facility Coordinator/Faculty. He has a master’s and a bachelor’s degree and 23 years of teaching experience in a community college setting. Morris will continue to teach at Mesalands as an adjunct instructor. In his new position, Morris is responsible for the overall operations of the new Career Services Center, which includes coordinating seminars and programs to assist students with their future career plans. He will also organize the College’s persistence (retention) and assessment efforts. Morris says he believes his job duties consist of three main areas: the Career Services Center, completion, and assessment. He says all three of these areas are the foundations of the College; not only for student success, but for the overall success of the College for both the present and the future.

“With the incredible support from the community, we have seen steady growth at Mesalands over the past two years and this has led us to increase our instructional and support staff,” said Dr. Thomas W. Newsom, President of Mesalands Community College. “We are pleased that we are able to attract these highly qualified individuals and their families to our community. This is a great indication of the future growth that we will see at the College and throughout Quay County.”