At the base of Academic Hall on Friday evening, Southeast Missouri State University President Dr. Carlos Vargas simultaneously celebrated the University’s history and 150th anniversary with a crowd of students, alumni, community members, faculty, and staff, while laying out a plan for the University’s future.


“SEMO has always been the destination for driven, hard-working students to discover their path. The world around us is changing, and as we’ve done so many times in our history, it is time to maximize this moment to focus on key strategic initiatives that will propel the University toward a modern campus and a modern model for what higher education should be,” said Vargas.

SEMO’s president reminded the crowd the University isn’t insulated from the rapid change in business and technology currently underway and must also change, adapt, and innovate to revolutionize learning and continue preparing students for successful careers. Vargas said the University must make prudent and profound investments in academics, technology, facilities, and athletics. 

Investments will be fueled by the launch of the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the University’s history. The Transforming Lives campaign has a goal of $60 million to fund key strategic initiatives that include enhancing learning spaces, powering technological advancements, expanding academic programs critical to building tomorrow’s careers today, and further investing in athletics to build community and championships.

Transforming Lives Campaign

Southeast Missouri University Foundation

Southeast officially launched the largest comprehensive capital campaign in University history, entitled Transforming Lives. Learn more about the campaign and how the investments will shape Southeast's next 150 years.

Vargas said the University has been raising money in the “silent phase” of the campaign and is already 64 percent on the way to its goal. While SEMO is an institution continuously evolving, this campaign, he said, will allow the University to transform for the future starting now. President Vargas made several announcements of projects in process to pave the way for SEMO’s transformation, including:

  • A partnership with IBM and construction to start this year of a new Cyber Command Center to enhance SEMO’s respected cybersecurity program
  • A new health sciences facility currently being designed to be built where Dearmont Hall now stands *This project is supported by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $10,000,000 with 65% ($18.4 million) financed with non-federal governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visitgov.
  • Continued and expanded partnerships with businesses and organizations that will benefit student experiential learning
  • Work to raise funds for the next phase of the Houck multipurpose development which includes the press box
  • Work to raise funds to finalize a third arts complex building at the River Campus to locate all arts students in learning at Missouri’s only campus dedicated to art, dance, music, and theatre
  • Plans for a benefit comedy show with SEMO’s notable alumnus Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles

“This announcement is not only about technology and new facilities,” said Vargas. “As with everything we do at SEMO, it is about our students. As the world changes, we will be ready so we can continue providing access and opportunity for our students to forge their futures, reach their potential, and transform their lives.”

SEMO’s University Foundation is spearheading the Transforming Lives campaign to focus donor investments on the programs, ideas, and priorities that will transform SEMO, so its students can transform the world. For more information, visit or contact them at (573) 651-2332.


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