Southeast Expanding Services at Three Area Higher Education Centers

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Feb. 25, 2005 – Southeast Missouri State University announced today that the University is expanding its services at three area higher education centers in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Mo., by offering a Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.) degree completion program at those locations beginning this summer.

With today’s announcement, students at the three centers may now complete a B.G.S. degree without setting foot on the Southeast campus in Cape Girardeau, said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University. Currently, the only degree-completion programs offered by Southeast at the centers are bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

Dobbins said the expansion of course offerings and degree options is part of an evolutionary process for the area higher education centers. The expansion is in response to the state’s need for better access to higher education at an affordable price, he said.

Dobbins said the Bachelor of General Studies is a very flexible degree with no major or minor required, but students can select an emphasis in such areas as business, communication, criminal justice, industrial management or psychology. In order for Southeast to be able financially to expand educational services and offer the flexible B.G.S. degree, Dobbins said, Southeast faculty will be teaching all freshman and sophomore courses at the centers.

Three Rivers Community College will be asked to continue offering technical courses in its Associate of Applied Science degree program which are not available from Southeast, as well as workforce development and customized training at the centers, Dobbins said.

“Our academic advisors and University financial aid and admissions personnel will be available to help students make a transition to Southeast programs,” Dobbins said. “All courses students already have taken from Three Rivers Community College will transfer to the Southeast Bachelor of General Studies degree and many other articulated bachelor’s degree programs. Our goal for current students is to make this an easy transition. For future students, this expansion of services will make the transition from high school to college a seamless process.”

Dobbins said freshman- and sophomore-level courses taught at the centers “face-to-face” by Southeast faculty or by interactive television will be comparable in cost to what students are presently paying for community college courses. 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.

“This is lower than the charge for courses taught on the Cape Girardeau campus,” Dobbins said. “The reduced charge is possible because the University’s cost of delivering courses and services is somewhat lower in the centers than at Cape Girardeau. For example,” he said, “students at the centers do not have to pay the general fees charged for athletics, student recreation, and other such services available on the campus.”He also noted that the cost of providing faculty at the centers is lower because there are different expectations for faculty teaching at the centers. “They are well qualified but their primary focus is on teaching and they are not expected to meet the research and service components like tenure track faculty on the Cape Girardeau campus. Therefore, they can teach more classes and the cost of instruction per class is reduced,” Dobbins said.

Dobbins said the transition to Southeast offering all courses at the centers will simplify students’ lives because they will have only one admission form, one class registration process each semester, one fee payment date, one financial aid system, one textbook rental program, and one academic calendar with which to work.

He also said that current and future students who need a course to complete a degree requirement will also be better served by the expanded higher education center offerings, since Southeast will use a lower target number for determining when a class has to be canceled due to low enrollment.

Southeast, he said, also wants to make sure that all higher education center students have access to state-of-the-art computers and computer software. Dobbins said “most of the computers used by students at the three centers are four to five years old. This summer, Southeast will be investing $250,000 to upgrade all higher education center computers used by students.”

Dobbins emphasized, however, that the major improvement for students will be the potential  to earn a bachelor’s degree in general studies with emphasis in such areas as business, communication, criminal justice, industrial management, or psychology, by taking classes taught by Southeast faculty without ever setting foot on the Cape Girardeau campus, using the combination of face-to-face, ITV and Web-based instruction.

“Since the B.G.S. degree is a very flexible program, it is ideally suited for the higher education center students. It allows individual structuring of a degree without requiring major or minor fields, although students may choose to take a number of courses in the field they are interested in,” Dobbins said.

Details about the degree program are outlined in the University Bulletin, which is available online at http://www.semo.edu/bulletin/.

Beginning freshmen who do not meet Southeast’s moderately selective admission requirements will be allowed to enroll on a part-time basis, and will be moved to full-time status as soon as they have proven they are ready for college-level work. These students should consult the higher education center advising staff for details, Dobbins recommended.

Imbedded in the B.G.S. degree, Dobbins said, is a lower-division general education transfer block for freshman and sophomore students to be offered in a combination of traditional face-to-face classes with an instructor present, interactive television, and courses available on the Web.

A student may take from 42 to 57 hours of these freshman- and sophomore-level general education courses at the center or through ITV. These hours can be transferred toward any Southeast degree or to other institutions to be applied to the degree of their choice, Dobbins said. All the additional hours needed for the Bachelor of General Studies degree may be taken from Southeast at the centers, on the Web or on the Cape Girardeau campus.

“More than 100 Web-based courses are offered by the University each semester,” Dobbins said.

Students enrolled in Three Rivers Community College courses for this spring 2005 semester will be able to complete those classes at the area higher education centers and transfer them toward a Southeast degree. Advisors at the three centers will work with each student during the registration period beginning Monday, February 28, to develop a class schedule for the summer and/or fall terms. The summer and fall schedule of classes will be available at the centers Monday.

Financial aid for students is available from several sources, including Pell Grants, loans, and endowed scholarships.

Each of the advisory councils at the three centers, working with the University Foundation, has raised a scholarship endowment, and students at the centers will continue to be eligible for assistance from this source, Dobbins said.

Dobbins added that students who complete Southeast’s 42-credit-hour general education “transfer block” at the higher education centers may be eligible for a $500 renewable scholarship to continue working toward a bachelor’s degree from Southeast, provided they meet a 2.5 grade point average requirement. Students attending the higher education centers on A+ scholarships will continue to receive those scholarships, which will be funded by Southeast.

The University is responsible for paying all the operating costs for the three centers south of Cape Girardeau, Dobbins said. The net cost to Southeast for operating the centers is about $800,000 per year. In order for Southeast to provided the expanded educational services and programs at the centers and break even financially, the University must teach the freshman and sophomore level courses, he said.

Consequently, Dobbins said, it is anticipated that a full array of courses which would normally have been available in the past will be available as Southeast courses in the fall of 2005. These courses could be applied toward either a Southeast or a Three Rivers Community College degree.