Southeast Board Approves Partnership Agreement

For more information, contact:Ann Hayes 573-651-2552 (Southeast News Bureau)Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins 573-651-2222 (Southeast President)Dr. Gregory Fitch  573-751-1876 (Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 29 — The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today unanimously approved the partnership agreement developed by Dr. Gregory Fitch, Missouri’s Commissioner of Higher Education, with input from Three Rivers Community College and Southeast for operation of the area higher education centers at Sikeston, Malden and Kennett.

If the agreement is approved by the Three Rivers Board of Trustees, the community college and Southeast would each pay one-half of the direct cost of operations at the three centers, and Three Rivers would teach 60 percent of the freshman- and sophomore-level courses at the centers. Three Rivers would continue collecting a technology fee of at least $5 per credit hour from students at the centers, and these funds would be used to upgrade and improve computers and software directly related to instruction at the centers.

The agreement would take effect with the fall of 2005.  

John Tlapek, president of the Southeast Board of Regents, expressed the Board’s thanks for Commissioner Fitch’s efforts to resolve issues between the two institutions.

“The Commissioner clearly understood the need for a fair division of the direct cost of operating the centers, so Southeast Missouri State University would not continue facing a huge deficit each year due to these costs,” Tlapek said.

“At the same time, Dr. Fitch kept in the forefront of the discussions the need for both institutions to focus on the welfare of students and the communities where the centers are located,” he added. “We are satisfied that the agreement now meets both the financial and the student service objectives.”

A draft agreement on the major financial points approved today was reached March 7 during a meeting in Sikeston among Commissioner Fitch, Cooper and Dobbins, but the regents had delayed formal action until today in order to give the Commissioner time to facilitate development of a more detailed document regarding student service issues.

Dobbins said Southeast was particularly concerned that the partnership agreement spell out the resolution of a number of issues relating to improving services for students taking classes from the two institutions at the centers. The agreement, as approved by the regents, lists student support issues in such categories as financial aid, admissions and testing, student billing, information technology and registration. It also details the responsibilities of the center directors for administrative operations at the centers.

“Since Three Rivers Community College on February 28, 2005, requested Commissioner Fitch to intervene, and that intervention was in progress, we were amazed that Three Rivers filed a law suit against the University,” Dobbins said.

“We have continued to work with Commissioner Fitch to find ways to resolve these issues in order to serve our students and break even financially with the operation of the centers,” he continued. “We now hope that with our approval of the agreement, Three Rivers Community College will adhere to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education conflict resolution process they requested and will withdraw the legal action they filed March 16.”

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