Registration Under Way for Summer and Fall Courses at Area Higher Education Centers

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

April 21, 2005 – Registration for Southeast Missouri State University courses for summer and fall is in full swing this week at the area higher education centers in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Mo.

Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, today reiterated Southeast’s plans to teach all lower division courses this summer and fall at the three centers south of Cape Girardeau “in order to end uncertainty for students and faculty about course offerings” at the popular off-campus sites in the wake of a dispute between Southeast and Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) over funding of the centers’ operating costs.

Dobbins said Southeast is committed to serving students throughout the University’s service region and will offer a full schedule of courses at the centers since TRCC has publicly rejected continuing its participation in teaching classes at the centers under an equitable partnership plan developed by Dr. Gregory Fitch, Missouri’s Commissioner of Higher Education, and approved by the Southeast Board of Regents March 29.

The draft partnership agreement developed by Fitch after meeting with the presidents of both Southeast and Three Rivers and subsequently approved by the Southeast Regents calls for the University and TRCC to each pay one-half of the direct cost of operations at the three centers. Under this draft plan, which has not been approved by the TRCC Board of Trustees, TRCC would teach 60 percent of the freshman- and sophomore-level courses at the centers. This plan would permit Southeast to “break even” on the operation of the three centers and would still provide a profit for Three Rivers, Dobbins said.

“Including the upper division and graduate courses that would be taught by Southeast and the 60/40 split of lower division courses, each institution would offer approximately 50 percent of the total number of courses offered at the centers and each would pay half of the direct operating costs of the three facilities. We see this as a very fair arrangement,” Dobbins said.

“Southeast remains committed to the students and the communities where the centers are located, and to providing affordable, high quality educational programs at the three off-campus sites,” Dobbins said.

To that end, Dobbins said, Southeast is proceeding with hiring faculty, registering students and planning to teach all lower division courses for summer and fall of this year. Under a new fee structure, up to 57 credit hours of 100- and 200-level courses taught at the centers by Southeast will have an incidental fee of $110 per credit hour for summer and fall 2005 and spring 2006.

Southeast Missouri State University contends that due to multi-million dollar reductions in state appropriations since May of 2002 it is necessary to revise the original financial arrangements supporting operation of the three higher education centers.  Under those original arrangements, Southeast Missouri State University pays almost all of the direct operating costs of the centers, while Three Rivers Community College pays very few of those direct costs but receives substantial revenues as a result of teaching most of the lower division courses.Dobbins said Southeast loses more than $800,000 a year in operating the three centers south of Cape Girardeau, while Three Rivers makes a profit of more than $900,000 annually.

This disparity, he said, threatens the financial viability of the centers and forces Southeast students to pay higher fees than would otherwise be necessary. Three Rivers has steadfastly refused to pay an equal share of the operating costs.

This summer, 24 lower division courses will be offered by Southeast at the Kennett Area Higher Education Center, including courses in areas such as computer applications, art, biology, economics, elementary education, English, health, mathematics, political science, psychology, communication, sociology, and history.

The University will offer 31 lower division courses at the Crisp Bootheel Education Center in Malden this summer, including courses in areas such as computer applications, biology, child care and guidance, economics, elementary education, English, health, mathematics, physics, political science, communication, sociology, and psychology.

Twenty-six lower division courses will be offered at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center this summer, including courses in areas such as computer applications, art, biology, economics, English, resource management, nutrition, geosciences, mathematics, political science, sociology, communication, and psychology.

Detailed class schedules are available at each of the centers or on the University’s Web page (www.semo.edu) under “My Southeast” and “Seat Availability by Course.”

In the fall of 2005, in addition to offering lower division courses, Southeast will be offering the same 300- and 400-level general education courses that have been offered in the past at the centers, as well as several graduate programs, said Dr. Randy Shaw, dean of Southeast’s School of Polytechnic Studies and assistant provost of extended learning. Shaw also emphasized that Southeast is launching its Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree completion program this summer at these locations. Southeast announced this new offering in February.Registration for summer and fall courses is currently under way. The four-week summer session begins on Tuesday, May 17 and runs through June 10. The last day to add a class for this session is May 18.

The eight-week summer session begins June 14 and runs through Aug. 5. The first four-week session of the eight-week session runs June 14-July 8. The second four-week session of the eight-week session runs July 12-Aug. 5. The six-week summer session begins June 14 and continues through July 22.

Dobbins said that despite the best efforts of Dr. Fitch, Three Rivers Community College is not returning to the centers and has declared its intention to establish alternative sites to offer courses, thus competing directly with the centers that have been created and supported by the people of the Malden, Sikeston, and Kennett communities.

“The efforts of the commissioner are still proceeding,” Dobbins said, “but the summer session is almost upon us, so we cannot wait any longer for the Three Rivers Board of Trustees to approve the partnership proposal. We must schedule classes and hire faculty for both summer and fall in order to guarantee that student needs will be met. Therefore, any future approval of a new partnership plan by Three Rivers will not affect the summer and fall 2005 semesters,”  Dobbins added, “and students can register now with confidence that the courses they need will be available from the University at the centers.”

A lawsuit filed by TRCC in March against Southeast is still pending, despite Fitch’s recommendation that it be dropped. On April 8, legal counsel for Southeast filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

Southeast filed the motion to dismiss on grounds that the mediation efforts of the state Department of Higher Education requested by TRCC under the Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) conflict resolution procedures have not been completed. Southeast contends that a lawsuit should not have been filed until all possible administrative solutions had been exhausted.