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State Of The University Address Fall 2014

President Kenneth W. Dobbins
Photo of Dr. Kenneth Dobbins
17th President

Good afternoon.

Welcome to the 2014 State of the University and to the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year. Today’s event has become a tradition here at Southeast to afford the President the opportunity to update our faculty, staff, students and friends on our accomplishments and to thank you for all you’ve done to make this a successful year. This event also gives Chartwells an opportunity to show their appreciation to you by providing what is commonly called “the shrimp boat reception” following the presentations.

As you can see from the publication you received when you entered this afternoon, our theme for the year is “Celebrating Success – Building for Tomorrow.” Celebration should be an essential part of how we create community and honor the hard work and dedication behind all of our success. Unfortunately, too often, we become so focused on our goals and our daily tasks that we fail to take the time to actually celebrate all our great accomplishments.

We know that everything that happens at Southeast Missouri State University is possible because of our outstanding faculty and staff and their focused involvement in our purpose and mission.

As I have reaffirmed to you every year for the past 15 State of the University addresses, even as we celebrate our accomplishments, at Southeast, we have a great tradition of continually developing new strategies, embracing new technology, and finding ways to leverage our financial resources to meet and exceed challenges, opportunities, and aspirations. Each new challenge and each new opportunity helps us in “Building for Tomorrow.”

At this time, I would like to introduce our governing board:

Mr. Doyle Privett of Kennett, president of the Board of Regents, who will be more formally introduced later in the program
Ms. Kendra Neely-Martin from St. Louis, vice president of the Board of Regents who also is serving on the Space Utilization Committee
Mr. Daren Todd from Kennett
Mr. Thomas M. Meyer of Cape Girardeau
Mr. Jay B. Knudtson, former Cape Girardeau mayor

Review of organizational chart/introductions

Every year, we review our organizational structure during the summer to ensure that it is configured in a manner that will accomplish our goals and objectives. You will find an updated org chart in your booklet and you can always find an updated version on our University website. There are several changes to our University organizational chart from last year, and several changes in department chairpersons on the academic affairs organizational chart on the flip side.

Recognition of New Employees

We also use today to welcome all those who are new to Southeast. Would all of those faculty and staff who started their Southeast employment after October 2013 please stand?

Please join me in welcoming these new members of the Southeast Missouri State University community.

Recognition of Years of Service

Also, it is our tradition here at Southeast, to recognize our continuing faculty and staff, many who have been here for numerous years. In fact, we said good bye to 50 long-standing faculty and staff members this past year due to retirement.

By the way, those 50 had a combined total of 1,094 years of service to our University. Needless to say, we continue to appreciate those of you who have been dedicated members of the Southeast community for many years. Let’s see how many years of service we have in the audience today.

Would every faculty and staff member please stand and remain standing until you no longer fit the criteria I’m going to announce.

  1. If you have worked at Southeast for less than 15 years, please sit down.
  2. If you have worked at Southeast for 20 years or less – please sit down.
  3. 25 years or less, please sit down.
  4. If you have worked at Southeast Missouri State University for 30 years or less, would you please sit down?
  5. If you have worked at Southeast for 35 or less years – please sit down.
  6. If you have worked at Southeast less than 40 years, please sit down.

I assume all of you standing have worked at Southeast for 40 or more years –

Those who have worked for 35 or more years, please state your name, position, and give your years of service and remain standing. Hold your applause until all are introduced.

I believe these folks deserve a special jar of black and red MMs. Let’s give a round of applause for those who have worked for more than 35 years at Southeast Missouri State University.

I’m somewhat good in math, but you’d need the calculator on your iPad or smartphone to add up all the years of experience demonstrated by this exercise. Suffice it to say, we are very privileged to have a very experienced, loyal, and dedicated faculty and staff here at Southeast. Please give yourselves another round of applause.

“Celebrating Success – Building for Tomorrow”

Today, Jeanine and I are very pleased to celebrate our 24th year here at Southeast, and this is the 16th State of the University address I’ve had the privilege to deliver. While every year here at Southeast has been unique and has provided us with special memories, this past year proved to be one of the best. What a year of achievement!! Think about what you’ve accomplished:

  • Record-breaking enrollments AND a record-breaking graduation class
  • The grand re-opening of Academic Hall, Magill Hall, and the dedication of the Donald G. and Gloria King LaFerla Hall
  • Approval of several new academic programs including actuarial science and healthcare management and administration
  • Launching of the AssociatesPLUS program, a partnership with Missouri State University-West Plains
  • Completion of the salary equity study with salary adjustments to almost 350 faculty and staff
  • Inauguration of the first-ever football game to be played in the new St. Louis Busch Stadium, and now Mizzou is looking to do the same thing

And that’s just barely the tip of the iceberg. . .

The publication you received today highlights our accomplishments just for the past year, and as you can see when you review pages one through eight, we’ve had a very busy and a very successful academic year. The best way to hear about our success is to listen to the voices of our faculty, staff, and students. As in years past, the Department of Communications and Marketing has produced a video highlighting many of the accomplishments of our University during the past year.

The great American football coach, Vince Lombardi, said, "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work - a company work - a society work - a civilization work."

Certainly, your individual efforts have contributed greatly to the overall success of our Southeast team. Here’s a short video highlighting several of our team successes during the past year.

Ladies and gentlemen, “The Year in Review.”

Thank you Marcus Painton, Tonya Wells, Aaron Eisenhauer and all the staff in Communications and Marketing on a job well done!

Celebrating Success

As you can see from that video, we’ve had a year of success. When you add last year in with the last decade or so, you can see that we’ve been able to transform Southeast Missouri State University into the outstanding and remarkable University that it is. Southeast Missouri State University is known for being a secure and welcoming campus, a campus of art and beauty, a destination for our region, a university where students can learn, explore, discover, innovate, create, communicate, compete, entertain and be challenged.

Enrollment Success

For all those reasons and many more, we have experienced 19 straight years of increased enrollment and13 years of record-breaking enrollments. Early indicators for this semester point to a 20th year of increased enrollment and a 14th for record-breaking enrollment. Almost 12,000 students are now a part of our academic community. Our entering class is more representative of the diversity of the State of Missouri, the United States, and even our world, and we are delighted to welcome more than 1,000 minority students and more than 1,000 international students from 55 countries to the Southeast community. We are educating tomorrow’s leaders from an extraordinarily diverse student body.

Southeast has cast a wider net to enroll top students from all backgrounds, and we will need to continue to find innovative ways to recruit and retain our terrific student body and to continue to keep the net cost of attendance for higher education affordable. We are an institution that matters—to our region, to our state, to our nation, and to our world.

I’ve collaborated with a lot of college and university presidents both in my work with AASCU – the American Association of State Colleges and Universities - and as Southeast’s president.

Among our peers, Southeast has a national reputation for excellence and innovation in a number of areas, and we often are used as a model for new initiatives---actually, sometimes we’re just plain copied!

For example, Dr. Willie Redmond coordinates our program with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies or CSIS which is the envy of colleges and universities across the country. As you know, we are the ONLY institution selected by CSIS to partner in week-long student seminars.

Dr. James Stapleton has been invited to speak on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Regional Partnerships at several Delta Regional Authority and AASCU-sponsored events. Consequently, many are trying to emulate our entrepreneurship initiatives.

As some of you may remember, in September 2013, several members of the University community participated in the Missouri Completion Academy, an event sponsored by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Complete College America.

We led many of the discussions regarding student retention and success by outlining our ongoing and planned initiatives. During the past year, our Math and English Departments have developed co-requisite remediation courses which will significantly reduce the amount of time students spend on remedial coursework. And a number of faculty and staff worked together to create undergraduate degree maps for all majors.

This initiative was developed from our work with the Missouri Completion Academy, and presented to a joint meeting of the Coordinating Board of Higher Education and members of Missouri’s Higher Education Governing Boards. I am confident we will continue to develop new and innovative student success initiatives in the coming year to increase retention and graduation rates.

Building for Tomorrow

So as we celebrate our success, we continue to seek to do more, to be more – to build for tomorrow. We want to expand the scope and scale of our programs for educating students by continuing to be innovators in education, using technology and outcomes analyses to develop new teaching methods to match how our current and future students learn.

To Build for Tomorrow, we will strive to continue to maximize students’ academic experiences while giving them opportunities for the critical experiential, social and cultural experiences that come from being educated on this amazing campus.

And to Build for Tomorrow, we want to continue to be an economic engine for our region, partnering with other colleges and universities, businesses and industries, to help create an innovation economy.

Academic Visionary Committee

Consequently, building for tomorrow requires changes in our academic program offerings.

We are often asked to share with University presidents the purpose, charge and composition of our Academic Visionary Committee.

While we’ve gone through state appropriation reduction challenges over the past decade, we have always believed that we cannot just cut programs, faculty and staff to address budget shortfalls. We have always agreed that we want to invest in academic programs and grow our institution.

To illustrate, this year we added a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with an option in actuarial science, and a number of new healthcare initiatives as recommended by the Academic Visionary Committee. With expected enrollments in these programs and the recently added academic program in cybersecurity, we have been able to increase enrollments and this year, we added five new faculty lines.

Online Programs and Quality Matters

Building for Tomorrow also requires different quality teaching methods. You will recall that we began building for tomorrow several years ago when many of our online initiatives were developed due to the Southeast in the Year 2020 Committee recommendations.

Our online program has flourished and we have become a leader among Missouri universities in delivering quality online programs. Key to our enrollment growth is the number of students taking only online courses. More than 1,000 students are taking only online courses this fall. Altogether, online courses this fall are generating over 22,000 credit hours, almost a 20 percent increase over this time a year ago. When you compare our online programs to others like Mizzou, their record number of online classes generates only 24,000 credit hours for a student body in excess of 30,000.

If we are to remain competitive in all our online endeavors, we must continue to have state-of-the-art online academic programs, requiring investment not only in the IT infrastructure, but also in innovative approaches to online teaching and course design.

To build for our online tomorrow, we have subscribed as an institution to a program called Quality Matters or QM - a national benchmark for online course design. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to continuous improvement in online education and student learning.

Dr. Allen Gathman, Associate Dean for Online Learning, and his staff have done an outstanding job with our online programs, and we now have two instructional designers to assist with the QM initiative. Fifteen Southeast faculty have become certified as QM peer reviewers, and courses are now being certified as QM courses.

The Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning is assisting cohorts of faculty to prepare their courses for QM review by meeting to discuss course design and providing instructional designer assistance. Cohorts will be offered every eight weeks.

I want to emphasize that QM is a rubric for evaluating the STRUCTURE of online courses – not the content. Faculty who have gone through the process have uniformly reported that they gained useful insights from it, and that the outcome was constructive.

Our goal is to have only internally QM-certified courses offered during Intersession 2015-16, and that all online courses beginning with Summer 2016 will require QM certification. We are confident we can achieve this academic program quality goal.

Infrastructure Success

Building for Tomorrow also requires resources to be used for infrastructure.

Certainly some of our success over the past year can also be viewed as building for tomorrow with bricks and mortar. Over the past three years or so, Southeast has completed or started more than $350 million in capital and maintenance projects. The grand re-opening of Academic Hall this time last year saw more than 6,000 people touring the building within the first two weeks after it opened.

We also invest in infrastructure to contribute to student success and retention. New math computer classrooms in Memorial Hall opened with the start of fall classes. The relocation of many student services to one central location here in Academic Hall has provided students with easier access, and it has helped in internal communications among all those departments located within the building.

No college or university in the state of Missouri has been more successful than Southeast at maintenance and building infrastructure and finding the mechanisms for funding when there was little or no support from the state.

We are continuing to build for tomorrow by working on a Space Utilization plan to review our facilities and determine how we can continue to meet our aspirations for the future.

I want to thank Kathy Mangels, the Vice President of Finance and Administration, Angela Meyer, Director of Facilities Management, and Regent Kendra Neely-Martin for their leadership of these critical initiatives.

Introduction of Strategic Plan and Goals

Finally, Building for Tomorrow requires a well-developed strategic direction.

As you may recall, the Strategic Plan Steering Committee met several times over the past year to develop a draft strategic plan. When the Board of Regents reviewed the plan last spring, they requested that the document be expanded to include some of our achievements from the last strategic plan and our Southeast in the Year 2020 recommendations.

What you will see on pages nine through 16 is the current draft strategic plan with priorities. Below each priority are goals for the upcoming year. These goals were developed from input from departmental, division, and college meetings and retreats. I’d ask that you take some time to read through those goals and I look forward to working with all of you on accomplishing these goals during this academic year.

Faculty/Staff Comprehensive Campaign

Of course, it takes resources to make all our goals possible, especially when it comes to financially helping our students.

The Southeast Missouri University Foundation, Vice President Bill Holland, and the development staff have done a wonderful job raising money for scholarships and programs to support our students. When Jeanine and I came to this University in 1991, the Foundation had an endowment of $4.1 million, and actually, scholarships were not even mentioned in the Foundation’s 1991 annual report.

Today the Foundation’s endowments have grown to more than $75 million, which will allow our students to receive this year over $1.4 million in scholarships. In fact, we can take pride in our Foundation because it is ranked in the top 500 universities in investment endowments of over 3,500 U.S. academic institutions.

One of our strategic goals is to significantly increase endowed student scholarships by increasing private fundraising from alumni, corporations and friends. Everyone on the Foundation Board points out that any successes are a result of the outstanding support and effort of the entire University community. During the past 12 months, through a special matching program, a program that some of you here participated in, we were able to establish 96 new endowed scholarships and to increase 66 existing scholarships by more than $1.2 million.

Additionally, we have been blessed with two significant bequests for scholarships, one from Ms. Ann Matthews of Sikeston, and one from Dr. Jim Drickey, a retired faculty member. These monies are all dedicated to scholarships to help students attending Southeast Missouri State University.

While these numbers are impressive, we are not done. As part of our comprehensive campaign, we will also be embarking on a Faculty/Staff Campaign to encourage our colleagues to help support this effort. You will be receiving a letter from me announcing this effort in the next few weeks.

I am pleased to say that Jeanine and I have embraced this effort by establishing several new endowed student scholarships. The Executive Staff have also personally committed to this effort, and I urge you to support this effort in the future. I think you will agree that when you help establish a scholarship, you are not just helping a student – you are affecting eternity.

So just what does student success look like?

I’ve talked a lot this afternoon about our success – and about building for tomorrow.

So why do we build and what does student success look like? Let me give you an example of the success our University team has provided in an email received from a mother. I have changed the names of the family members to protect their privacy.

The email read: “My name is Jane Doe. My husband, Jack, and I have three children. Our youngest, Mary, is a freshman at SEMO. She was the first to leave the nest, and we could not have chosen a better university.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 12, Mary called home. Growing up, she spent a few weeks in the hospital on different occasions, and, over time, developed a great fear of ambulances and hospitals. Those memories come flooding back from time to time, and Mary experiences flashbacks and panic attacks. She asked to be taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after the latest attack. Jack and I drove to Cape Girardeau to meet her at the emergency room.

When we arrived, her RA Kayla, her hall director Chris Miller, counselor Torie Grogan, and two of her friends were all there. This was 4:30 a.m. Torie assured us that an email from the Dean of Students would go to Mary’s professors, and she could work with them to make up any tests/projects.

Jane Doe continued: On my way to work this morning, I listened to the daily readings. Today’s gospel from Matthew featured what is more commonly known as the Golden Rule. It is from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. I was brought to tears when I was again reminded of the length and depth the above mentioned people went to for our daughter.

Every University may talk the talk when it comes to caring for its students. Southeast Missouri State University backs it up with incredible actions. Our son, Tim, will begin his junior year at SEMO in August. While every parent finds it a little difficult to watch their children leave the comforts of home and experience the world on their own, Jack and I are confident that Mary and Tim are in the best of hands at SEMO.

Jane Doe finished the email by writing, “Thank you just doesn’t seem enough for these amazing people.”

What a great email to receive! I have no doubt that due to the efforts of the Southeast faculty and staff, Mary and Tim will soon be among those who hang a Southeast diploma on their walls.

In the past decade alone, I’ve shaken the hands and congratulated almost 20,000 students who walked across the stage at commencement. Many of you in this audience were directly responsible for the success of those graduating students. I suspect there are several of you in this audience who actually were among those almost 20,000 graduates.

While those students call Southeast their Alma Mater and the diploma that hangs on their wall shows they graduated from this University, we all know this University is only as strong and as successful as the faculty and staff who work here.

Your work, your support, your teaching, your advising, your counseling directly contributed to the success of each and every one of those 20,000 students, and I personally thank each of you for your dedication to the Southeast mission.

Announcement of Transition

In 1873, there were leaders in this community who had the daring and boldness to believe that this region should have a college of its own. There were those who fought that idea; those who lobbied for the college to be located in Ste. Genevieve. But leaders like Louis Houck, Joseph Lansmon, and State Representative R.B. Oliver persisted against all odds. In 2014, that same enterprising spirit lives on in our students, faculty and staff, alumni and supporters.

  • We are now a University for the 21st Century.
  • We are nationally recognized for our outstanding and accredited academic programs.
  • We are an economic development leader that creates jobs and fosters entrepreneurial growth throughout the Midwest and the Delta Region.
  • We are a community partner that works to improve lives, our region, and the world.
  • And, we are more than 67,000 alumni strong making a difference locally and globally.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are Southeast Missouri State University and I have never been prouder of our institution, our faculty, our staff, our students, our Board, our alumni, and our friends.

Now, permit me to close on a personal note. As you may know, Jeanine worked in the College of Education from 1991 to 2010. During that time, she also founded and was the first director of the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program which has assisted more than 250,000 Missouri elementary students with reading difficulties. That may be a number hard to fathom. So think about Busch Stadium having a child in every seat filled five and a half times. She retired early to assist with the care of her ailing father and mother who passed away in 2010 and 2012. I would like to introduce my wife of 43 years and my strength and soul mate. Jeanine, would you please stand?

As many of you may suspect, this is my final State of the University address here at Southeast. Jeanine and I have made the decision for me to retire from the Presidency effective June 30th of 2015.

It has been such a great honor to represent this University and to work with not only an outstanding Board of Regents for 24 years, but also with such hard-working, dedicated, and caring people here at the University, and in the 26-county service region communities of Missouri.

Jeanine and I have had the great privilege of meeting, mentoring, and helping to educate thousands of great students. We’ve been honored to work alongside some of the most talented and committed administrators, faculty and staff we’ve ever known. And Jeanine and I have had the opportunity to work with great alumni and supporters of our university, and with great leaders in our region, our state, and our nation.

We want to thank everyone for the support, commitment and dedication you have shown not only to Southeast, but also to us.

As you know, I’ve been privileged to serve both on the Board and as chair of the AASCU Board of Directors.

Recently, AASCU has joined in a partnership with Penson and Associates to form the AASCU-Penson Center for Professional Development, a consulting firm that assists presidents, governing boards, institutions and systems to plan and focus their resources successfully in these challenging times.

While I will spend the next 10 months just as I have the past 15 years – working with you on the priorities and goals for Southeast Missouri State University, I do plan to work with the AASCU Penson Center upon my retirement to do consulting in higher education. Jeanine will continue working as a prayer minister, pursuing and finalizing creative projects, and learning a bit of the Swedish language for our trip to Sweden after my retirement.

We are looking forward to more time with our son and daughter in law, Paul and Stacey, and of course, our two grandsons, Lincoln Kenneth and Brady Larson, at our Lake St. Louis home.

Obviously, this coming year will be one of transition – both for you as you search for a new president and for Jeanine and me.

I know Board President Doyle Privett will have more information on the transition in his remarks and there will be opportunities for us to work collaboratively on the transition during the upcoming year. Today, we are privileged to have President Privett here with us.

Introduction of Doyle Privett

A Southeast alum, Mr. Privett has served as a Board member for more than 15 years. He was first appointed to the Board of Regents in December 1994 by Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan to fulfill an unexpired term, and was reappointed in 1997 and served until January 2004. In April 2009, Mr. Privett was again appointed to the Board by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to serve a six-year term, and was elected president of the Board in December 2012.

He received his bachelor of science in accounting degree from Southeast in 1973, and is a certified public accountant who currently serves as chief financial officer for Kennett National Bank. He is a member and past Board member of the Missouri Society of CPAs and served as president of the Southeast Chapter of CPAs. He is a member of the board of directors of Kennett National Bank, and serves as chairman of the advisory committee of Southeast’s regional campus in Kennett.

He has been married to his wife, Bonnie, since 1974; they have two children, Brian and Brooke, who are both also Southeast graduates

Concluding Remarks by President Dobbins

Before President Privett comes to the podium, I again want to thank Doyle, the members of the Board of Regents and the entire Southeast Missouri State University community for what has been the job of my lifetime!

Thank you again, and best wishes as we launch this new academic year. It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve as your 17th president.

President Privett. . .

Remarks by Board President Doyle Privett

Academic Hall 144
Office of the President
One University Plaza, MS 3300
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701