Dr. Carlos Vargas became the 18th president of Southeast Missouri State University July 1, 2015, after having served as acting president at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.
During his first year in the presidency, Dr. Vargas’ priority has been to listen and learn by visiting with all the University’s constituencies, whether on campus, in the community, region, state, or throughout the United States and in foreign countries where Southeast alumni are located. Based on what he learned, President Vargas launched initiatives to marshal the resources, to leverage opportunities, and to address a variety of challenges and needs of Southeast Missouri State University.
President Vargas encouraged and supported the identification and development of innovative academic programs, including a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems program, a Geographic Information Science program, and a proposed engineering program presented to the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education. He has continued to support the globalization of the campus through expansion of study-abroad experiences, extensive engagement of international students, and encouraging students on campus and abroad to explore cultural interaction. He championed the work of the President’s Task Force on Diversity Education, and continued emphasizing the expectations for enhancement of the teacher-scholar model. Under President Vargas’ leadership, regional partnerships and collaborations were solidified, including several joint initiatives with Three Rivers and Mineral Area Colleges.
Prior to assuming the presidency at Southeast, Dr. Vargas served one year as acting president of Kutztown University. He served as the provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, and had been the school’s chief academic officer since 2006.
Prior to his tenure at Kutztown, Dr. Vargas was at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs. He previously served in several roles at Kent State University (Ohio) for a total of 18 years, including founding director of the program on electron beam technology. He was also Kent's associate dean for research, interim assistant dean for research, and he served as interim assistant dean for the School of Technology. He started his tenure at Kent State in 1985 as a professor, and continued to teach until his departure from the university.
Dr. Vargas began his career in higher-education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. His initial appointment was as a senior associate researcher for the Institute of Geophysics, and he later held a similar position for the University's Institute of Physics.
He earned his Ph.D. in physics and aerospace science from the University of Michigan and he has Master of Science degrees from Michigan in both physics and aerospace science. He is married to Pam Vargas, who currently serves as director of Research and Grant Development at Southeast, and they have a son, a daughter, and one granddaughter.