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.
Since becoming president, Dr. Vargas has launched initiatives to marshal the resources, leverage opportunities and address a variety of challenges and needs of Southeast Missouri State University. He has set as primary goals for the institution the support for student persistence and retention.
He has encouraged and supported the identification and development of innovative academic programs, including bachelor's degrees in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Geographic Information Science, and industrial and systems engineering. He has continued to support the globalization of the campus through expansion of study-abroad experiences, extensive engagement of international students, and encouragement of students on campus and abroad to explore cultural interaction. He has 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 have been solidified, including several joint initiatives with Three Rivers, Mineral Area and other community colleges.
Prior to assuming the presidency at Southeast, Dr. Vargas served one year as acting president of Kutztown University, where he also served as the provost and vice president for academic and student affairs.
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 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 in 2003.
Dr. Vargas began his career in higher education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), from which he received a Bachelor of Science in 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 Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Southeast, and they have a son, a daughter, and two granddaughters.