Donald L. Dickerson to Receive Honorary Degree at Spring Commencement

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 29, 2005ᾰDonald L. Dickerson, former president and member of the Southeast Missouri State Board of Regents for 12 years, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from Southeast Missouri State University during commencement exercises planned for 2 p.m. May 14 in the Show Me Center.

An honorary degree is one of the most prestigious awards presented by Southeast Missouri State University.  It is awarded for distinguished achievement, accomplishment or service that is recognized by peers in the field and by a broader spectrum of society.

Dickerson received his bachelor of art degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 1954 and his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Dickerson returned to Cape Girardeau and later became a partner in the firm of Dickerson, Hill & Lange, LLC.  He services the Cape Girardeau community through memberships and participation in the Missouri Bar, the Federal Bar, the Cape Girardeau County Bar, the American Bar Association and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Dickerson was first appointed to the Southeast Missouri State Board of Regents in April 1993 by Governor Mel Carnahan, and was later named president of the Board of Regents on Oct. 4, 1996. He served as president through December 2004. 

During his service as Board president, Dickerson dedicated his time and effort to enhance University facilities, expand the University’s academic programs and accomplishments and improve the campus environment through strategic administrative policies.

“Don’s service to Southeast Missouri State University is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “During his dozen years on the Board, he provided the vision and leadership to significantly improve and enhance nearly every area of Southeast Missouri State University. He is a true visionary who has given his heart and soul to higher education in this region. His tenure on the Board will long be remembered as an unprecedented period of growth and accomplishment. On behalf of our students, faculty, staff and alumni, we are extremely pleased to be awarding him an honorary doctor of laws degree as a token of our deep appreciation for his remarkable service to Southeast Missouri State.”

Completed Facilities Projects during Dickerson’s presidencyThe following facilities projects were completed during his tenure:

  • Construction of Robert A. Dempster Hall
  • Construction of Otto and Della Seabaugh Polytechnic Building
  • Construction of New Hall (residence hall)
  • Total interior renovation of Carnahan Hall
  • Construction of the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center
  • Acquisition, remodeling and expansion of the Kennett Area Higher Education Center
  • Acquisition and remodeling of the Perryville Area Higher Education Center
  • Three expansions of the Crisp Bootheel Education Center at Malden
  • Construction of Towers/Greek Housing Parking Garage
  • Renovation of West and North Towers to suite style accommodations (residence halls)
  • Renovation of Greek Housing
  • Construction of Expansion to Student Recreation Center
  • Construction of Expansion to Show Me Center
  • Construction of Skylight Terrace addition to University Center
  • Remodeling of Tlapek Building to house SEMO Regional Crime Laboratory
  • Construction of the Facilities Management headquarters
  • Acquisition and partial remodeling of Washington School
  • Renovation of the Power Plant
  • Construction of the Charles Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse
  • Construction of new intramural and softball complex
  • Construction of new tennis complex (Sprigg and Bertling)
  • Construction of phase one of the multi-modal transfer (parking) facility
  • Construction of the internal campus transitway
  • Renovation of Houck Stadium, including artificial playing surface installation
  • Acquisition of First Baptist Church property for parking, South Campus Student RecreationCenter, Foundation offices and Innovation Center/Business Incubator
  • Developed a fiber optic “backbone” throughout the campus for information technology and provided local area network access in all residence hall rooms
  • Construction of the Charles L. Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse

Academic Achievements during Dickerson’s presidencyThe University also made tremendous academic strides during Dickerson’s service on the Board of Regents. Following is a listing of some of those academic achievements:

  • Secured accreditation for Harrison College of Business by the AACSB (now listed by Princeton Review as one of the 143 Best Business Schools in the nation from more than1,600)
  • Secured initial national accreditation for several other academic programs, including: Industrial Technology, Recreation, Social Work, Dietetics, Early Childhood Education, Nursing, Counseling, Engineering and Physics
  • Completed successful re-accreditation process for several academic programs, including:Teacher Education (NCATE), Music, Chemistry, Communication Disorders
  • Completed successful initial accreditation process for five programs in the Department of Communication (journalism, advertising, public relations, radio and video production.)Will be one of only 17 in the United States accredited in all five areas.
  • Secured 10-year overall accreditation by the North Central Association with five areas of distinction
  • Began cooperative doctoral programs with the University of Missouri
  • Began the “Southeast PM” program to permit obtaining degrees at night
  • Began several academic programs, including international business, environmental science, Master of Social Work and degrees in industrial technology
  • Began planning for new School of Visual and Performing Arts at the River Campus

Administrative Policies during Dickerson’s presidencyAdministrative policies developed during Dickerson’s tenure as Board of Regents president, include:

  • Developed 1995-1996 strategic plan for the University
  • Developed an enhanced mission for the University, including outreach to the region through four area higher education centers, an interactive instructional television network and development of a School of Polytechnic Studies to teach advanced manufacturingtechnology and related subjects
  • Conducted review of all academic and non-academic programs after budget cuts, resulting inreduction of more than $3.6 million in base budget savings, elimination of four academicprograms, reduction of more than 40 positions and a lean administrative and academicstructure
  • Maintained the University’s position as the most affordable of Missouri’s comprehensiveregional institutions despite fee increases necessary to cope with unprecedentedreduction in state appropriations from 2002-2004
  • Developed a revised, focused strategic plan after program review
  • Established the Missouri Research Corporation to focus on regional economic development
  • Saw enrollments grow to all-time record numbers for each of the last four years (now more than9,600 — up from 7,900 in 1994)
  • Completed a $35 million capital campaign
  • Approved transition from “Indians” and “Otahkians” nicknames to “Redhawks”
  • Established the Southeast Missouri Educational
  • Began active solicitation of federal funds, achieving more than $20 million in earmarks since 1999

Before Dickerson finished his term as president of the Board, he began several new facility improvements for the University, including a completion of the planning and funding phase of the River Campus project, planning for the Research Park project at the University Farm on I-55, construction of a new entrance, plaza and student organization space at the University Center, planning for a new Broadway-Henderson entrance to the campus and construction of a transmitter to expand KRCU-FM coverage to the Mineral Area.

In addition to his service to the Board of Regents, Dickerson has served as a member of the Southeast Dean’s Advisory Council to the Harrison College of Business, the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, the Foundation Board of Directors, the Copper Dome Society and the Southeast Booster Club.  Dickerson also has been a lecturer for the Missouri Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Program.