As the world crept up on the 21st century, Southeast Missouri State University continued to evolve to modern times. This decade was marked with increased giving and funding, huge campus projects, and new milestones.

Initiating Change

To kick off this decade, the University inaugurated it's 14th president and it's first female leader of the University. Kala Stroup took over the position in July of 1990 and she went to work making changes across campus. President Stroup initiated three brand new fraternities and one new sorority. Stroup also employed the first two African American deans in the history of the University. 

As her tenure went on, Stroup oversaw the first ever capital fund raising campaign, which eventually produced $28.5 million for University improvements. 

Stroup served until 1995, when she resigned to become Missouri's commissioner of higher education. After that, Bill Atchley returned to take over the president position for one year before Dr. Dale Nitzschke takes the reins in 1996. Nitzschke served until 1999 before taking the newly created position of chancellor for development of the River Campus and Polytechnic Institute. That spring, Dr. Kenneth Dobbins becomes the 17th president of Southeast. 

In the 1990s, a huge addition to academics happened. Southeast began offering it's first online courses. Southeast Online remains an integral part of the academic scene at the University. 

Athletic Success

In 1991, the women's basketball team made it to the NCAA Division II finals with a 31-4 record. The softball team advanced to the Final Four, and the gymnastics team earned the U.S. Gymnastics Federation Division II title. Southeast was the first Division II gymnastics program to qualify for the NCAA Division I Central Regional. The team included six All-Americans, including Cheri Peterson, who won the national vault and all-around titles. 

Later in that year, Southeast officially joined the Ohio Valley Conference and football program made the jump to Division 1 - AA, also know as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The athletics program made the official move to NCAA Division I. 

Campus Growth

Campus continued to evolve, looking more and more like the campus Southeast students call home today.  

In 1995, an $11 million Towers renovation project was finished. 

Other changes on campus continued to shape student life. In 1995, Dr. Bill Atchley becomes interim president of Southeast. In an effort to bring faculty and administration together, he started a "traveling office" and worked his day from various locations on campus. He is also the one credited with starting Common Hour, which is still used on campus today. 

In 1996, Robert A. Dempster Hall officially has the ribbon cut, becoming home to the Donald L. Harrison College of Business. The first classes were held in Dempster Hall on Aug. 26, 1996. 

A number of other projects were finished and started, including the dedication of Carnahan Hall and the funding for the construction of a new Polytechnic Building. 

In 1997, B.W. Harrison provides a gift to the University to purchase St. Vincent's Seminary, beginning the planning for a future River Campus and School of Visual and Performing Arts. In May of 1998, the Southeast Missouri University Foundation approves a request from the Board of Regents to purchase the buildings and grounds. The University develops the preliminary plans and a conceptual model of the new campus this year. Cape Girardeau citizens voted to help fund the River Campus project in the November election that year, pledging $8.9 million in restaurant and motel taxes.

125 Years!

The University kicked off the 125th anniversary celebration with a Welcome Back Picnic in Capaha Park on Aug. 22, 1998. The year-long celebration looked back on 125 years of history. 

Kicking off in 2023, the University celebrated it's sesquicentennial with another year long celebration. 

What was happening in the 1990s?

  • 1990 - The Hubble Telescope is launched
  • 1990 - Windows 3.0 is released
  • 1990 - the Gulf War begins
  • 1991 - President H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas for the U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1991 - Super Nintendo Entertainment System is released in North America
  • 1991 - British singer and songwriter Freddy Mercury dies
  • 1991 - Disney released "Beauty and the Beast"
  • 1993 - Bill Clinton is inaugurated as president of the United States
  • 1993 - Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" is released
  • 1994 - Apartheid ends in South Africa and Nelson Mandela is elected president 
  • 1994 - "Forrest Gump" is released
  • 1994 - The PlayStation is released in Japan
  • 1995 - Windows 95 is released
  • 1995 - O.J. Simpson is found not guilty of double murder in the deaths of his former wife Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman 
  • 1996 - the DVD is released in Japan
  • 1997 - J.K. Rowling publishes "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
  • 1997 - Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in a car accident in Paris
  • 1997 - The sound barrier is broken on land
  • 1998 - Windows 98 is released
  • 1998 - Google is founded
  • 1999 - The Columbine High School Shooting in Colorado leaves 15 dead
  • 1999 - Spongebob Squarepants debuts on Nickelodeon
  • 1999 - ExxonMobil is founded
  • 1999 - Vladmir Putin becomes president of Russia

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