River Campus Commons Named for Dickerson

Photo of Donald L. Dickerson

The Southeast Board of Regents have approved the naming of the Donald L. Dickerson River Campus Commons.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Dec. 17, 2009 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved the naming of the Donald L. Dickerson River Campus Commons.

Dickerson is a former president and member of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents. The Regents and former members of the Board joined Dickerson today in a ceremony celebrating the commons named for him.

“The dream of the River Campus would not have become a reality without the tireless efforts of Don Dickerson,” said Brad Bedell, president of Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents. “It was Don’s vision in 1998 that initiated the idea of transforming the abandoned St. Vincent’s Seminary property into a school of visual and performing arts. Now, with these magnificent facilities serving our students, our community, and our region, it is appropriate that we name the commons for Don in recognition of his leadership in bringing this dream to reality.”

The Dickerson River Campus Commons connects the original seminary building, original parts of which date from 1845, and the newly constructed portion of the River Campus that opened in fall 2007. The serene area aptly ties the old and new facilities with a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River and the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

This sculpture unveiled today will be placed permanently in the center of the Donald L. Dickerson River Campus Commons.  The artist for this sculpture is Harry Weber of St. Louis. Mr. Weber’s bronze sculptures have been featured at the Museum of Fine Arts in Newport, Rhode Island, and are in the permanent collections of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and are outside the new stadium in St. Louis, and the National Dog Museum.  In addition, he has created sculptures of Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, and three separate sculptures of Jack Buck.  He currently is working on sculptures of baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and Chuck Berry, the father of rock and roll.

A prolific artist, his body of work includes more than 100 large and 200 smaller pieces. 

The sculpture will serve as a constant reminder of Dickerson’s contributions to the development of the River Campus, now home to the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts. The School brings together the departments of art, music, and theatre and dance, and has made Southeast the only institution in Missouri to have a separate campus dedicated to the arts.

Dickerson received his bachelor of arts degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 1954 and his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  

Dickerson was honored by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation in 2007 with the Friend of the University Award.

Dickerson was presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree from Southeast during commencement exercises in May 2005. An honorary doctorate is one of the most prestigious awards presented by the University and is given for distinguished achievement, accomplishment or service that is recognized by peers in the field and by a broader spectrum of society.

He was first appointed to the Southeast Board of Regents in April 1993 by the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, and was elected 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 Dobbins. “During his dozen years on the Board, he provided the vision and leadership to significantly enhance nearly every area of the University.

“He is a true visionary who has given his heart and soul to higher education in this region,” the president said. “His tenure on the Board will be remembered as an unprecedented period of growth and accomplishment for the University. On behalf of our students, faculty, staff and alumni, we are extremely pleased to name the commons for him as a token of our deep gratitude for his remarkable service to Southeast.”

Before Dickerson finished his term as president of the Board, he provided leadership for several new facility improvements for the University, including completion of the planning and funding phase of the River Campus project; planning and construction of the Seabaugh Polytechnic Building; planning for the Research Park project at the former University Farm on I-55; construction of a new entrance, plaza, student organization space, and the Skylight Terrace 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 via KSEF-FM.

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 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.

A partner in the firm of Dickerson, Hill & Lange, LLC, Dickerson is a member of 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.

Infrastructure Projects Completed during Dickerson’s tenure as a Regent:

  • Construction of Robert A. Dempster Hall
  • Construction of Otto and Della Seabaugh Polytechnic Building
  • Construction of Vandiver Hall (residence hall)
  • Total interior renovation of Carnahan Hall
  • Construction of the Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston
  • Acquisition, remodeling and expansion of Southeast Missouri State University-Kennett
  • Acquisition and remodeling of the Perryville Higher Education Center
  • Three expansions of the Crisp Bootheel Education Center at Southeast Missouri State University-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-North
  • Construction of Expansion to Show Me Center
  • Construction of Skylight Terrace addition to University Center
  • Construction of the Facilities Management headquarters 
  • Acquisition and partial remodeling of Washington School
  • Renovation of the Power Plant
  • Construction of the Charles L. 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 Recreation , Alumni Center, Foundation offices and Innovation Center/Business Incubator
  • Development of  a fiber optic “backbone” throughout the campus for information technology and providing of local area network access in all residence hall rooms

Academic Achievements during Dickerson’s presidency:

The 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 Best Business Schools in the nation)
  • 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.)
  • 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 Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts at the River Campus

Administrative policies developed during Dickerson’s tenure include:

  • Developed 1995-1996 strategic plan for the University
  • Developed an enhanced mission for the University, including outreach to the region through four regional campuses, an interactive instructional television network and development of a School of Polytechnic Studies to teach advanced manufacturing technology and related subjects
  • Conducted review of all academic and non-academic programs after budget cuts, resulting in reduction of more than $3.6 million in base budget savings, elimination of four academic programs, reduction of more than 40 positions and a lean administrative and academic structure
  • Maintained the University’s position as the most affordable of Missouri’s comprehensive regional institutions despite fee increases necessary to cope with unprecedented reduction 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 (from 7,925 in 1994 to more than 9,600 in 2004)
  • Completed a $35 million capital campaign
  • Approved transition from “Indians” and “Otahkians” nicknames to “Redhawks”
  • Began active solicitation of federal funds, achieving more than $20 million in earmarks since 1999