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Washington Strother Dearmont, the Third District Normal School's seventh president, successfully turned Southeast into a four-year, degree-granting college and by the end of his presidency student enrollment had tripled.
Dearmont set the standards for obtaining a degree in four years at Southeast. He set the minimum number of hours required for a bachelor's degree at 120. Enrollment grew from the average daily attendance of 476 students at the 1911-12 school year, to 1,500 students by the end of the 1920-21 school year.
To reflect these changes, the Missouri Legislature approved changing the school's name to Southeast Missouri State Teachers College in 1919.
During his presidency, 1899-1921, Dearmont also increased the number of buildings on campus six-fold. Teaching was heavily emphasized. Three publications, "Educational Outlook," "The Sagamore," and the "Capaha Arrow," were inaugurated. The textbook rental system was established and President William Howard Taft visited Southeast during Dearmont's presidency.
Dearmont was born in Clarke County, Va. His father, Peter Dearmont, was a successful farmer and his mother, Mary (Bell) Dearmont, a housewife.
He earned two degrees from the University of Missouri. He taught school in Holt County from 1885 to 1893.
He later taught elementary school and organized a high school at Mound City. Dearmont then taught at Kirkwood High School where he succeeded in getting Kirkwood on Missouri's approved list of high schools.
Photo from Lueders' Collection. This information is excerpted from the article "Past and Present Presidents" appearing in The Southeast Missourian on April 4, 1999.