Modernization and change has been the story of the last years leading to the sesquicentennial. Southeast continued to expand and improve on academics and overall excellence, and we saw more and more of the Redhawk community we celebrate today.


Life on Campus

Southeast Missouri State University has embraced a modern era, prioritizing safety and environmental sustainability. Recognized as the safest university in the nation in 2010, Southeast transitioned from coal to natural gas for power in 2012.

In 2014, the university introduced Camp Redhawk, welcoming freshmen to the SEMO lifestyle and fostering connections among new students. This initiative reflects Southeast's commitment to enhancing the college experience.

The retirement of President Ken Dobbins in 2014 marked a transition as Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto assumed the role of the university's 18th president, a position he continues to hold today.

2015 brought a bold new brand for Southeast, emphasizing the community's "Will To Do" spirit. This rebranding initiative aimed to showcase the essence of Southeast students and highlight academic programs leading to successful careers. Rowdy the Redhawk received a fresh new look in 2019, completing the university's updated brand identity.

Continuing its commitment to wellness, Southeast became smoke-free and tobacco-free in February 2017. In 2018, the university announced plans for a pet-friendly community on select floors of Myers Hall, fostering a welcoming environment for students.

Southeast's dedication to supporting military personnel was recognized with the Gold Designation for Military-Friendly Colleges in 2022. Building on this success, the university achieved top 10 status for Military-Friendly Colleges in 2023 and 2024.

In 2023, Southeast earned a place on the Princeton Review's list of the best colleges in the Midwest, selected from 158 institutions across 12 states.

The excitement continued in 2023 as the SEMO Men's basketball team went dancing made its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, showcasing the university's vibrant athletic culture.

New Buildings

On July 7, 2010, the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment held its grand opening. Governor Jay Nixon was the keynote speaker for the event, celebrating the 11,582-square foot building that housed a number of beneficial services. It held University classrooms, therapy rooms, family centers, offices, observational opportunities, diagnosis rooms, and other clinical features. 

Later that year, Southeast coordinated with other area organizations to open the Cape Girardeau Partnership in Higher Education. This facility is later renamed the Cape College Center. 

In 2013, construction management and design students complete construction of the student-designed plaza between the Scully Building and Rhodes Hall of Science. 

After two years of extensive work, the doors of the newly renovated Academic Hall, the centerpiece of Southeast Missouri State University, reopen to the public with about 700 participating in a ribbon cutting and rededication ceremony. The ceremony took place on Oct. 25, 2011. 

A number of other buildings were opened throughout this decade, including:

  • The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship opens on May 13, 2011
  • LaFerla Hall opened and is dedicated in 2014
  • The Kenneth & Jeanine Dobbins River Campus Center was dedicated in 2015
  • New Horticulture Incubator Lab
  • Doyle L. Privett Science Lab at Southeast Missouri State opened at the Kennett Campus in 2015
  • Catapult Creative House open May 2015
  • Greek Village plans were approved by the Board in 2015
  • A major renovation at the Show Me Center, including solar pannels added to the parking lot
  • Panda Express expansion in added in 2016
  • EDvolution Center dedicated Aug. 31, 2016
  • Rust Center for Media was dedicated on Oct. 7, 2016
  • International Village opens in 2019
  • Cyber Range opens in Dempster Hall in May 2019
  • Veterans Plaza opens September 2020
  • New Art Complex is an expansion of our River Campus is complete in 2022 
  • Houck Stadium Remodel and Open for the 2023 Season
  • Transfer Center within the Office of Admissions was opened December 2023

Academic Programs

In 2011, the Board of Regents officially approved Southeast's Bachelor of Science program in cybersecurity, distinguishing the university as the sole provider in the state and one of fewer than 50 nationwide offering this specialized curriculum. Today, Southeast's cybersecurity program remains highly sought-after and ranks among its most popular offerings. Continuing its tradition of academic innovation, Southeast introduced a new program in unmanned aircraft systems (drones) in 2016.

In 2012, Southeast partnered with the Missouri Army National Guard to launch the SHOW ME GOLD Officers Training Program, providing another pathway for military-oriented students.

The inaugural class of the Law Enforcement Academy celebrated graduation on May 15, 2013.

In 2015, Southeast's master's degree programs in nursing, communication disorders, and business administration earned national recognition as leading graduate programs.

In 2017, the university underwent academic restructuring, including the dissolution of the Department of Modern Languages and Anthropology, merging it into existing departments. The Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work, and Sociology also emerged from merging two other departments. These changes took effect at the start of the 2018 school year, alongside the official naming of the university's five colleges by the Board of Regents.

In 2020, the Southeast Board of Regents approved the Bachelor of Science program in professional pilot training. This program welcomed its inaugural class in the fall of 2021 and celebrated its first graduates in December 2023.

Also in 2020, our anthropology students embarked on an educational journey that helped solve a decades-old cold case and give a family closure they had been looking for since 1977.

In 2023, SEMO's graduation rate surpassed the national average by 13 percent, as reported by the National Student Clearinghouse.

2024 marked the announcement of a new drone training program through SEMO's Law Enforcement Academy.

SEMO established partnerships with various entities, including KFVS 12 for mass media programs, St. George University for pre-med and pre-vet studies, Saint Francis Healthcare for Allied Health, and the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center for Respiratory Therapy. Additionally, partnerships with Century Casino for nutrition and hospitality management programs and with Big Brothers and Big Sisters were established to support students in their journey toward earning a college degree.


In 2017, Southeast celebrated the Great American Solar Eclipse with a major eclipse viewing event at Houck Field. The event included the launch of two StratoStar high-altitude weather balloons with collaboration from the Space Center Houston - Manned Space Flight Education Foundation. The event helped teachers and students go to the edge of space to view the eclipse. 

Dr. Michio Kaku, one of the most widely recognized figures in science in the world, presented a keynote address. 

In 2024, Southeast celebrated another major eclipse.

World Timeline

2010 - A 7.0 magnitude earthquake kills 230,000 in Haiti

2010 - The largest oil spill in U.S. history occurs in the Gulf of Mexico 

2010 - The FIFA World Cup is held in Africa for the first time

2010 - The iPad is introduced

2011 - Prince William and Catherine Middleton are married

2011 - Snapchat is launched

2011 - NASA launches spacecraft to visit Jupiter and Mars

2012 - Vladmir Putin is elected president of Russia for the third time

2012 - Hurricane Sandy kills 233 people and causes $70 billion in damage

2012 - A school shooting occurs at Sandy Hook Elementary

2013 - Pop Benedict XVI resigns

2013 - Nelson Mandela dies

2014 - The worst Ebola epidemic in history occurs in West Africa

2014 - Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 on board disappears while en route to Beijing

2015 - Liquid water is found on Mars

2015 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry

2016 - The Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908, ending the Curse of the Billy Goat

2016 - Donald Trump wins the 2016 presidential election

2017 - The Great American Eclipse, a total solar eclipse, passes across the contiguous United States for the first time since 1918 

2018 - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marry

2019 - The first summit occurs between the U.S. and North Korea

2019 - A major fire engulfs Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris 

2019 - "Avengers: Endgame" is released in theaters, breaking box office records

2019 - The COVID-19 pandemic begins in Wuhan, China, marking the start of a global pandemic 

2019 - The U.S. Space Force is introduced 

2020 - The murder of George Floyd sparks protests across the United States and the world

2020 - Joe Biden wins the 2020 U. S. presidential election and Kamala Harris becomes the first female, Black and Asian vice president in history

2020 - The United States begins mass vaccinations to protect against COVID-19

2021 – President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the U.S. Capitol, in an effort to disrupt certifying the 2020 presidential election results. Members of Congress were evacuated. Five people died. The event became classified as a domestic terrorist attack.

2021- The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics (postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) are held in Tokyo, Japan.

2021- The number of recorded deaths from COVID-19 surpasses 5 million.

2022- Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom's longest-service monarch, died September 8.

2022 - The World Health Organization declares the end of the COVID-19 pandemic following widespread vaccination efforts.

2023 - President Joe Biden's plan for student loan reform, encompassing loan forgiveness, repayment options, and potential rulings, sparked national discussions on addressing the challenges of student debt.

2023 - Historic Space Mission: NASA successfully launched its first manned mission to Mars, marking a significant milestone in space exploration.

2023 - Researchers made significant strides in artificial intelligence, achieving breakthroughs in machine learning and autonomous technology.

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