Knudtson to Receive Vandiver Show Me State Award

Photo of Jay Knudtson

The Vandiver Show Me State Award has will be given to Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudston during spring commencement exercises at Southeast Missouri State University, where Knudston will be offering the commencement address.(View larger image of Knudston)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

April 28, 2006 – Southeast Missouri State University will confer the Vandiver Show Me State Award on Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson during spring commencement exercises at 2 p.m. May 13 in the Show Me Center.

Knudtson also will present the commencement address.

The Vandiver Show Me State Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the institution, the region and the state by individuals or corporate entities. In a closed session meeting on April 24, the University’s Board of Regents voted to present the Vandiver Award to Knudtson.

The Southeast Board of Regents established the award in February 1997. The award was conferred for the first time on the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center Advisory Council at spring commencement exercises in May 1997. Judith Wilferth of Cape Girardeau received the award in December 1997, and the late B.W. “Bill” Harrison received the award in December 1998.

“The civic work of Jay Knudtson exemplifies the type of significant contributions to Southeast Missouri State University, the region and the state of Missouri the Vandiver Show Me State Award was created to recognize,” said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University.

A Cape Girardeau civic leader and businessman, Knudtson has just completed his first term as mayor and was re-elected in April to a second term.

“His administration has continued a tradition of cooperation with Southeast Missouri State University for the betterment of the community and the southeast Missouri region,” Dobbins said.

Dobbins said this type of cooperation was also a hallmark of Knudtson’s predecessor, former Cape Girardeau Mayor Albert M. Spradling III, who is now a member of the Board of Regents.

Knudtson’s first term in office was filled with many accomplishments, including saving the downtown landmark Marquette Hotel; bringing new retailers, such as Sears Grand and Kohl’s to the community; balancing the city budget; developing plans to re-vitalize the downtown area; making progress so work and funding could proceed for the University’s River Campus; and serving as part of a cooperative group to bring a new I-55 interchange north of Cape Girardeau, which also is the site of a University technology park that is under development.  Knudtson was born in Rochester, Minn., and he attended the University of Minnesota on a baseball scholarship.  A severe shoulder injury ended his baseball career, but he continued his interest in sports by becoming a full-time hockey official, working in the U.S. Hockey League and the International Hockey League. He entered the business world in 1989, taking a position with Fleet Mortgage Corporation in Bloomington, Minn., and shortly afterward was offered a promotion with relocation to Cape Girardeau.  Here, he was offered a position with then Boatmen’s Bank, now Bank of America, and subsequently became executive vice president with First Missouri State Bank in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, the position he currently holds.

In addition to his responsibilities as a businessman and mayor, Knudtson has been active in a number of civic organizations since coming to southeast Missouri.  He has served as a member of the Easter Seals board, as treasurer and executive board member of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, as past chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, and as a youth baseball coach.  He is a member of the Southeast Hospital Foundation Board, a member of the Elks Club, a trustee for Southeast Missouri Hospital and chairman of the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet Board of Directors. He is a member of LaCroix United Methodist Church.  He enjoys playing golf, camping, and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.  He and his wife, the former Cynthia Cantrell, have one son, Gunnar James.