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MLK Planning Committee

Since 1986, America has celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr through observances that teach, excite and inspire the next generation of leaders. From 1999-2005, Southeast Missouri State University held a memorial breakfast to honor Dr. King.  In 2006, King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, was invited to be the keynote speaker for the first campus celebration dinner. The 2006 dinner initiated a new tradition that continues to garner growing involvement by students, faculty, staff, alumnae and community members from the southeast Missouri region and beyond.  

Each year, the Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK) Celebration Planning Committee plans, organizes and executes the annual dinner as well as other campus and community-wide activities on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

MLK Planning Committee members include faculty and staff from various colleges and departments across campus. The committee also includes Graduate Assistants from the Office of Institutional Equity & Diversity and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, students involved in the TRIO/Student Support Services Program, the MLK Scholars, and a representative from the Student  Governmment Association (SGA). 

The MLK Co-Chairs are appointed by the Provost and serve two years appointments. 

2021-2022 Co-Chairs 

Dr. Melissa Odegard-Koester, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Dr. Sandra Cox, Assistant Professer, English

MLK Planning Committee Members

Dr. Tamara Buck, Professor and Chair, Mass Media
Michelle Irby, Director, Campus Life & Events Services
Dr. Joseph Jefferson, Assistant Professor of Trombone/Euphonium and Director of Jazz Studies
Dana Saverino, Creative Strategy Project Manager, University Marketing
Tammy Underwood, Executive Assistant, VP, Equity, Access, & Behavioral Health/Dean of Students 
Tonya Wells, Director of University Marketing
Dr. Victor Wilburn, Chair, Child and Family Studies
Valdis Zalite, Director, TRIO Programs

Student Committee Members

Black Student Union President
NPHC President
Student Government President
SGA Diversity Chair

Special Projects 

The following individuals from the Show Me Center, DPS, and Chartwells assist with special projects and other logistical aspects of planning the annual MLK Dinner.  

Ms. Taylor Franke, Events Supervisor, Show Me Center
Mr. Ken Gullett, Lieutenant, DPS
Ms. Christie McIntosh, Catering Director, Chartwells 
Mr. Kevin Yarbrough, Senior Campus Executive Chef, Chartwells 



Academic Hall Room 010-011
MLK Celebration
One University Plaza, MS 3375
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701