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Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins became the seventeenth president of Southeast Missouri State University on July 1, 1999, after serving in several positions in higher education administration both at Kent State University in Ohio and at Southeast.
During his tenure at Southeast, academic programs have been enhanced, including establishment of a School of Polytechnic Studies and the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts which opened in Fall 2007 on the new $50 million River Campus. The Donald L. Harrison College of Business has been recognized for the last three years by a Princeton Review publication as one of the best business schools in the nation and the Department of Communication has achieved national accreditation of its programs in journalism, advertising, public relations, radio, and video production. The Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology recently received its initial ABET accreditation.
Enrollment has increased significantly, topped 10,000 for the first time in Fall 2005, and stood at over 10,600 in 2007. Record enrollments in higher education have occurred in the University’s 25-county service region during his tenure due to the establishment of new regional campuses in Sikeston and Kennett and a higher education center at Perryville serving place-bound students in and near those rural communities.
An innovation center and business incubator to promote entrepreneurship and enhance the region’s economy opened on the campus in 2005; a University Research Village is being planned on the 400-acre former University farm on Interstate-55 and the Department of Agriculture has relocated the farm to a new site; a comprehensive review of all academic and non-academic programs has been accomplished to maintain quality and minimize student fee increases in the face of significant state appropriation reductions; and capital construction projects totaling over $200 million have been completed to expand and modernize the University’s physical plant.
Dr. Dobbins has served a two-year term as president of the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), the organization for presidents and chancellors of Missouri’s public colleges and universities. He serves on and is a past chairperson of the Committee on Professional Development for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and was recently elected to the AASCU Board of Directors. He is also one of four presidents selected to teach at the AASCU New Presidents’ Academy. He previously served three years as president of the Ohio Valley Conference and is currently a member of the Conference finance subcommittee. In addition, he is a vice president of the executive board of the Greater St. Louis Council, Boy Scouts of America.
He earned his B.S. degree in accounting from the University of Akron (Ohio) in 1971 and served as a commissioned officer and civilian executive in the U.S. Air Force for almost 10 years. He received the M.B.A. degree in 1979 from Old Dominion University (Virginia), and the Ph.D. in higher education administration in 1987 from Kent State. He is also a Certified Public Accountant in Ohio.
From 1981 until 1991, Dr. Dobbins held several positions at Kent State. He came to Southeast in 1991 as Vice President for Finance and Administration, and served as Executive Vice President from July 1993 until his appointment as President six years later.
Dr. Dobbins and his wife, Jeanine Larson Dobbins, founding coordinator for the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program based at Southeast, have a son, Paul, and a daughter-in-law, Stacey, who are both Southeast graduates.