As the University welcomed in a new president, changes continue to mark campus. Some of the largest building expenditures were completed during the 1980s, ushering in new options for students coming to campus.

President Stacy's Tenure Begins

The 1980s kicked off with the inauguration of a new University president - Dr. Bill Stacy. Stacy's tenure lasted through 1989, rounding out this decade. In December 2023, campus learned of the passing of Dr. Stacy and reflected on his legacy with Southeast. 

Stacy's impact on campus is still visible today. He helped with the adoption of the General Education program and the Honors Program. More than his policy, he also was a part of the building of the Show Me Center. The Show Me Center continues to me an integral part of campus life, including housing Redhawks Basketball. 

Buildings that are a still a part of campus today continued to go up during Stacy's tenure. In the 80s, the University received the largest donation yet, a $560,000 donation from Mrs. Mary Johnson Tweedy of Brewster, New York. Tweedy was the daughter of B.F. Johnson, who taught mathematics at Southeast for over four decades. Johnson Hall is still used for mathematics today. The University also purchased a luxury apartment building next to campus, which eventually became Robert A. Dempster Hall in 1982. 

In 1987, the $3 million Student Recreation Center opened, adjacent to the Show Me Center. Later that year, the $13.5 million Show Me Center opens, serving Southeast and Cape Girardeau with a space for concerts, sporting events, entertainment, banquet and convention space. When it first opened, the Show Me Center welcomed the likes of Tina Turner, Bob Hope, George Jones, and Tanya Tucker. 


Campus continued to grow in many ways, including students, recruitment efforts, and general expansion. In 1980, total enrollment broke 9,000 for the first time. 

In 1981, the University launched a recruitment campaign, aimed at attracting more black students. Minority enrollment accounted for about 4.5% of total enrollment at Southeast at this time. The goal was to increase enrollment to 10% by the mid-1980s.

Later in the decade, the first black member of the Board of Regents, Rev. Dr. Samuel W. Hylton Jr.,  was appointed. 

In 1981, the University launched its first-ever capital campaign. Just two years later, the University recognized the need to support the growing student population and established the Southeast Missouri University Foundation and Copper Dome Society to help with fundraising and scholarship efforts. 

Chief Sagamore Bid Farewell

In 1985, the University retired Chief Sagamore, a student dressed in full Native American regalia, though the "Indian" nickname remained. Chief Sagamore had been the mascot since the 1940s, but was quietly retired during this decade. 

Southeast tried a few different mascots and nicknames throughout the next years, including SEMO Red and the Thunderbirds, but none stuck. In 2005, Rowdy the Redhawk officially hatched and has been a part of the SEMO life ever since. 

What was happening 1980-1989?

  • 1980 - World Health Organization Announces Eradication of smallpox
  • 1980 - The Iran-Iraq War begins
  • 1980 - Pac-Man is released
  • 1981 - President Reagan and three others are injured in an assassination attempt
  • 1981 - Reggae singer Bob Marley dies
  • 1981 - The Aids epidemic officially begins in the United States after originating in Africa
  • 1981 - "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is released
  • 1981 - Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer are married
  • 1981 - MTV is launched
  • 1982 - Sony releases the first commercially-sold CD player
  • 1983 - The United States invades Grenada
  • 1984 - American musician Marvin Gaye is assassinated
  • 1984 - HIV is recognized as the cause of AIDS
  • 1985 - Benefit concern Live Aid is held
  • 1985 - The wreck of the Titanic is found off the coast of Newfoundland
  • 1985 - The Nintendo Entertainment System is released in North America
  • 1985 - DNA fingerprinting is used for the first time
  • 1986 - The Challenger explodes in flight, killing all seven crew members
  • 1986 - The Chernobyl disaster in the Unkraine kills about 100 people
  • 1987 - Windows 2.0 is released 
  • 1988 - End of Iran-Iraq War
  • 1989 - George H.W. Bush is inaugurated presidnet of the United States
  • 1989 - The hand-held Game Boy is released in the United States
  • 1989 - Disney's "The Little Mermaid" is released
  • 1989 - The Simpsons premiered on FOX
  • 1989 - The Berlin Wall falls. 

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