Southeast Missouri State University senior Heather Keesee says being a Libra – a natural people pleaser – makes hospitality management a great career fit for her.

A Scott City, Missouri, native, Keesee is interning this summer at the Beau Rivage MGM Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi, where she is shadowing management in hopes of launching a career in the industry.

“It is so nice to see how happy guests are and knowing that you are part of making their experience better is a great feeling,” Keesee said.

Interns are on rotations to learn about various aspects of the business. Her first four weeks at Beau Rivage have been in the beverage rotation, following the director of beverages, who has taught her how to run the casino floor service bars, schedule cocktail servers, run a piano bar in the casino and make direct liquor orders.

“Following someone who is so high up in management is amazing because I get to see how the company is run and sit in on important meetings,” she said. “This also helps me see how the company makes decisions and the future for the company.”

As an intern, she participates in Resort Knowledge Days where she is learning about the responsibilities of each company’s departments and all of MGM’s properties.

“The company truly cares about the brand and wants each employee to know about the various locations,” she said.

At her first Resort Knowledge Day, she learned about hotel operations and met the vice president of hotel operations and food and beverage. She also got insights on VIP services, front services and housekeeping.

“It is important the employees know the different departments throughout the operation because MGM is very big on collaboration,” Keesee said. “Knowing each department teaches us how they all work together.”

Keesee calls the Beau Rivage “a beautiful property” with the feel of a Las Vegas venue. The property features 1,740 guest rooms and 11 food outlets ranging from fine dining to an ice cream parlor. It also offers gaming, bars, a theatre, room service, live bands and a dueling piano show, a summer circus-type show and shopping outlets.

She already has learned a lot about MGM Resorts and the value of networking.

“I also learned that working in the hospitality industry is very time consuming but also very rewarding,” she said.

“The networking opportunities that are given to the interns is amazing. We are able to sit in on executive meetings, talk to everyone in the Employee Dining Room, be introduced to everyone, and shadow different departments,” Keesee said.

Because of the importance MGM Resorts places on networking, interns are given the opportunity to shadow top-level executives if they find their position interesting. On her shadowing day, though, she plans to observe the manager of catering and banquets because she wants to better understand how this large operation works.

She said she hopes to take away from this experience a new style of management. While she previously had worked for a family-owned restaurant, the internship has allowed her to explore management on a higher scale.

Keesee became interested in pursuing an internship with MGM Resorts after recently visiting the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. After applying and a series of interviews, she landed the summer opportunity where she said she is “loving it so far.”

She’s come a long way in her educational journey at Southeast. Going into college, she says she knew nothing about hospitality management.

“I sat down with an advisor when I was struggling with school, and she asked what I was passionate about,” Keesee said. “I told her that I loved being a waitress, but I knew I could not do that my whole life. That is when I was introduced to hospitality management.”

Although she is eight and a half hours from home this summer, she is enjoying all the opportunity is affording her.

“The coast is a beautiful place. The people here are so genuine and welcoming, not to mention I only live an hour and a half from the beach. On my off days, I get in my car and head to Pensacola or Orange Beach to enjoy the white sand and blue water,” she said.

Biloxi also has a number of museums, art galleries and casinos to explore.

“Something that I enjoy doing here after work is watching baseball,” she said. “MGM owns a ballpark, MGM Park, right across from Beau Rivage, where the Biloxi Shuckers – part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization — play.

When Keesee finishes her internship this summer, she will complete here Southeast degree in hospitality management with a minor in human resources.

“My long-term goal is to get a job with MGM Resorts International, whether it be at the Beau Rivage or at a different location,” she said. “My internship has truly made me fall in love with this company and I can see myself furthering my career with them. I am hoping that a management position becomes available at Beau Rivage because I love the work environment here, and I love living on the coast. If a management position does not open up, I will see what other jobs they have to offer that I could work my  way into management.

“If all else fails, I have my foot in the door with MGM and could be transferred to another location,” she said. “I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to see where my future takes me!”


Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board members Molly Eggleston and Cindi Silvey were recently were honored by St. Louis Magazine with Excellence in Nursing Awards at their ninth annual gala reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.

Eggleston, a 2014 Southeast alumna of St. Louis, was recognized in the cardiovascular category for her work at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

“I was surprised but incredibly honored to be nominated and win,” Eggleston said. “I am truly passionate about the nursing profession and providing excellent, compassionate care for the patients I serve, and it’s an honor to be recognized.”

Silvey, of St. Louis, was recognized in the emergency department category for her work at St. Luke’s Hospital.

“I was very humbled to have been nominated, and to win this honor was a complete surprise to me,” Silvey said. “There are so many other ER nurses whose stories are more touching than mine, but I am truly touched that someone thought what I do stands out and then took the time to write about it.”

Presented by Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College and Barnes-Jewish HospitalSt. Louis Magazine’s Excellence in Nursing Awards recognize nurses from institutions across the St. Louis region for their exceptional level of knowledge, passion and dedication to their fields. This year, more than 200 nominations were reviewed by a distinguished selection committee comprised of respected leaders from such organizations as Mayo Clinic–Florida, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, and the University of Missouri. They selected 57 finalists and chose the winners in 19 categories.

Silvey, who has spent nearly two decades working in both pediatrics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and with adults in emergency rooms, becoming a nurse was a natural and perfect fit for her caregiver personality and instincts. While in nursing school, she worked as a student emergency room (ER) nurse, and she knew this is where she wanted and needed to be, Silvey said.

“There was something about helping the kids and families at a critical moment I felt was for me,” she said. “ER nursing is a huge adrenalin rush, the pace and the unexpected of each and every day is different. Every day I learn something new, see something I have never seen, perform a task I never have done. Most importantly, I get to bond with people at what may be the worst time in their life and make a difference in their overall care and outcome.”

Molly Eggleston was honored by St. Louis Magazine with Excellence in Nursing Awards at their ninth annual gala reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.

Eggleston, a 2014 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, was inspired to pursue a career in nursing at a young age listening to her grandmother tell her stories of impacting people’s lives as an operating room nurse. As a registered nurse in Mercy Hospital’s cardiovascular intensive care unit, Eggleston helps patients recover from open heart surgery and various cardiac conditions.

“The most exciting part of my job though is seeing the difference I make in a patient’s life,” she said. “When a patient walks for the first time after being in bed for weeks, breaths on their own after being on a ventilator, or when their heartbeat comes back after a cardiac arrest, it is exciting and rewarding to know I played a part in that.”

Connecting with her patients and their families is also a driving force behind everything she does and has provided pivotal experiences she carries with her every day, Eggleston said. She recalls moments such as when a patient she cared for a few years ago suffered a second cardiac arrest in the hospital while recovering from a previous cardiac arrest. She was there to help resuscitate him.

“I was there not only for the patient, but also I developed a strong relationship with his family as I helped and encouraged him through this critical illness and recovery,” she said. “I was there when he first got to the chair, when he had his first ice chips, and when he first spoke after he was extubated.”

When he developed pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, Eggleston was once again there for him and his family.

“I sat with his wife and daughter as they decided to withdraw treatment, and I quite literally shared in the family’s pain as he took his last breath,” she said. “It was a huge privilege to care for this patient and his family in their time of suffering. Remembering them has gotten me through more difficult days in critical care nursing and serves as a constant reminder of the impact I can have in a patient’s life.”

Silvey said that throughout her career, memorable moments and patients have become nearly immeasurable. She’s had so many children and adults she’s taken care of that stand out in her mind. Their stories have ended good and bad, but all have touched her life as a nurse.

In 2012, she lost her 21-year-old daughter Meghan Herndon, who was a senior at Southeast pursuing her degree in nursing, in a motor vehicle accident.

“It was the worst phone call a parent could ever get and calls I used to make when I worked at Children’s Hospital,” she said. “My nursing brain was in overload, and I really wanted to just be her mom. The problem was I knew too much about her injuries and what was to come. But I’ve taken this experience and things from her accident to help other families in dealing with similar situations.”

Cindi Silvey was honored by St. Louis Magazine with Excellence in Nursing Awards at their ninth annual gala reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.

Silvey has become a family liaison in the intensive care unit at the hospital where Meghan died, and is a speaker for grief support groups. She is also sharing her experiences and knowledge as an adjunct nursing instructor at Saint Louis University.

Being there for those in need, no matter the situation, is her true calling, Silvey said.

“It is very rewarding seeing the care I have provided either physically or emotionally to a patient that makes an impact,” she said. “It is so rewarding to see a patient walk back in the ER just to say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you’ for what you did for them.”

Eggleston recently received a scholarship from Mercy Hospital to pursue her doctorate of nursing practice at Saint Louis University and focus on her research interests in mechanical circulatory support in heart failure and cardiovascular disease in women. She said the experiences she had while at Southeast provided her a strong academic and professional foundation for the future, and she encourages students to take advantage of all the opportunities available on campus and after graduation.

“Get involved in student and nursing organizations and get involved with the Southeast Alumni Association or in the hospital you work for,” said Eggleston, who also serves as a Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board member and is an alumni mentor for Southeast’s Department of Nursing. “I have learned the most and have had so many opportunities in my career from becoming involved in my profession and staying connected to Southeast.”

Silvey added, no matter what your career or life may bring, strive to make a difference everyday regardless how big or little.

“Always talk to a patient, get to know the patient and show them you are human. It is sometimes the simplest things we do as a nurse that can make an impact on a patient or their family,” Silvey said. “Always support your co-workers and other team members. Who you work with can make or break a day. Always find something to laugh about. If we don’t laugh at work, we are not having fun. If we are not having fun, then we become tired, boring and sometimes not so compassionate or nice. When you put your head down on your pillow after a long day, ask yourself, ‘what did I do today that I know made a difference?’”

**Top Photo Caption: At left is Molly Eggleston. At right is Cindi Silvey.

The Southeast Missouri State University Partnership for Community Health Workers recently was awarded funding to increase the number of Certified Community Health Workers (CHWs) in southeast Missouri serving the population.

This partnership between Southeast and the Southeastern Missouri Area Health Education Center (SEMO AHEC) in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, works to attract, train and retain CHWs interested in serving Missouri’s population.

Twenty tuition waiver applications are now available to complete the CHW Certificate program. Applicants may register online at

“The community health worker is an important and vital part of our health care system,” said Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, professor of Spanish language and culture. “This program provides professional training opportunities to these essential workers.”

The course is composed of 100 hours of in-class training, held at SEMO AHEC. Lee-DiStefano and Laura McVay, the executive director of SEMO AHEC, will conduct the in-class training.

“SEMO AHEC is excited to partner with Southeast Missouri State University to bring this vital training to the Poplar Bluff region,” McVay said. “The CHW program definitely fits with our mission of building healthier communities. Providing training for CHWs develops an understanding of better care for community members and helps build relationships into the future.”

CHWs serve as a resource, an advocate and a support for the client in a compassionate way that is void of judgment.

“CHWs focus less on cost and symptoms and more on the overall well-being of the client as a fully empowered person,” Lee-DiStefano said.

Lee-DiStefano added, CHWs are human-centered and work with the client while respecting their needs, language, culture and individual autonomy to provide the best assistance when clients make health decisions and set goals.

If selected for the tuition waiver, recipients must agree to complete a satisfactory background check prior to accepting the tuition waiver; successfully complete the CHW training program, including practicum hours; and submit an official high school transcript or GED equivalent.

For more information about Southeast’s Community Health Worker Program, visit

The 32nd annual Horizons Summer Youth Enrichment Camps at Southeast Missouri State University kicked off this week offering local youth golden tickets to summer adventures.

This year’s Willy Wonka themed Horizons sessions are scheduled from June 18 to July 13 and provide children ages 5-14 fun ways to develop skills not covered in the traditional classroom or summer camp. They are able to explore various career fields and the responsibilities of professionals in their dream careers.

Horizons offer kids educational and fun experiences, and its diverse programming provides opportunities for the local community to engage in unique activities available at the University, said Christy Mershon, interim director of the Economic and Business Engagement Center at Southeast.

“When kids are participating in the labs, they are just so excited, and it’s very cool to see that love of learning,” Mershon said. “Each course uses a hands-on approach to learning that incorporates laboratory experiments and physical activity.”

This year’s lineup includes new programs, along with returning favorites, including “The Greatest Show – Musical Theatre Camp,” “Super Cool Med School,” “CSI–Southeast,” “Let’s Run Off to the Circus,” “Kids Going Green,” “Junior Veterinarian,” “Advanced Robotics,” “Weird Science,” “Ceramics: A World of Pure Imagination,” “Grossology” and “Space Adventure.”

Courses are held on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University and the surrounding areas, and are taught by Southeast faculty and students, and community leaders, said Mershon.

One of this year’s whimsical and exciting camps is “Let’s Run Off to the Circus,” with instruction by Melinda Held, director of youth programming at The Edge of Cape Girardeau.

“We offer a full aerial arts curriculum intermixed with creative fun play all in a noncompetitive, nurturing environment,” Held said. “We explore, compare and contrast aerial silks, slings, trapeze and the hoop, or ‘lyra.’”

Along with circus fun including balancing, juggling, obstacle courses and games, campers focus on building a strong foundation of safety, strength and skill in a supportive and creative environment.

Held integrates life skills into her classes such as confidence, focus, teamwork, respect, imagination, memory, discipline and coordination.

“Horizons provides amazing educational, active and fun camps to the community,” Held said. “We thought that Horizons camps were a perfect way to let the community know what we have to offer at The Edge.”

Little Horizons classes are available for children 5-8, and traditional Horizons programs are available for youth ages 9-14. Morning, afternoon and all-day sessions are available.

Horizons registration is now open. All classes are $100 plus lab fees. For registration information, including the full lineup of classes, visit or follow Southeast’s Continuing Education on Facebook at

For more information, contact Continuing Education at Southeast Missouri State University at (573) 986-6879 or email

Southeast faculty and staff are encouraged to consider registering to be a Southeast 101 Leader in August on Academic Engagement Day.

As a Southeast 101 Leader, you will have the opportunity to attend Convocation and welcome our new students as part of Opening Week activities. After the completion of Convocation, you will help guide a group of new students through their Southeast 101 session, providing them with information and tools to be successful during their first year on campus. Faculty members will be assigned a group within their college.

This is a wonderful opportunity to interact with our new Redhawks and be a part of the exciting Academic Engagement Day.

For more information and to register, visit

For questions, contact New Student Programs at (573) 651-5166 or

Southeast Missouri State University’s Conservatory of Theatre and Dance will offer two sneak peeks of its upcoming performance of “An American Hero” in New York City with two non-ticket dress rehearsals of the show at Southeast’s River Campus.

Dress rehearsals are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 17 and 18 in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre. While there is no cost to attend and tickets are not necessary, donations will be accepted, and reservations are required. To reserve a seat, please call (573) 651-2149. Donations, which are not required, can be made online by visiting In addition, cash and checks will be accepted at the performances, with donations going to help support the cost of travel for 30 Southeast students and faculty to New York City the following week.

The dress rehearsals at the River Campus will set the stage for Southeast’s original production, “An American Hero,” to be in the national spotlight when it is performed as part of the 15th season of the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) July 23-29 in the Acorn Theatre in New York City.

Performances will offer theatre lovers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a powerful, jazz-inspired musical that tells the story of an Irish immigrant during World War II offering a human perspective never before told.

“There are countless stories of love and loss during World War II, but this story is unique, culturally diverse, in its perspective of the war through the eyes of an Irish immigrant who chooses to go against the will of his homeland, fighting for his new country, suffering great loss, and in the process becoming a reluctant American hero,” said Dr. Kenn Stilson, co-author of “An American Hero” and chair of The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University.

Produced by Southeast Missouri State University, “An American Hero” is an official selection of the 2018 New York Musical Festival. Thirty Southeast Missouri State University students and faculty will travel to New York City to perform “An American Hero” on 42nd Street, just off Times Square and the Broadway district. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. July 23, 9 p.m. July 26, 1 and 5 p.m. July 27, and 1 p.m. July 29 at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd Street. For tickets, visit or call the Box Office at (212) 352-3101.

A Southeast alumni “Mix ‘n Mingle in the Big Apple” is planned for 6-8 p.m. July 25 at Foley’s New York Pub & Restaurant, 18 W. 33rd Street, in New York City. Appetizers will be provided, and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $10. To register, visit here. For more information contact Jay Wolz, director of Alumni Relations, at (573) 651-2930 or

“It’s a traditional, warm story about an unconventional topic — immigration and PTSD during World War II,” says Director Michael McIntosh, assistant professor of musical theatre, directing and acting at Southeast Missouri State.

Many people are unaware Ireland was neutral during World War II, Stilson said. Between the wars, they gained their independence from England after centuries of oppression.

“They were not pro-Nazi and pro-Fascism, but they hated the British,” Stilson said. “In fact, they hated them so much that Irish men and women who did choose to fight in the war were considered traitors. After the war, they and their families were outcasts. Their countrymen wouldn’t hire them, and their families were discriminated against throughout society. Their children were bullied in schools—even by their teachers. It was only in 2013 that the Irish government officially pardoned soldiers who left to fight the Nazis.”

Stilson says this tragic, intense drama will tug at heartstrings as the leads, “Thomas” and “Mary,” portray love and humanity that transcend all.

McIntosh calls the production “emotional,” saying audiences will get to follow the Irish immigrant as he decides to join the U.S. Army during World War II, a controversial decision with Irish immigrants at the time.

“We get to watch him fall in love, storm the beach at Normandy and ultimately suffer from PTSD (then called ‘battle fatigue’) when he comes home,” McIntosh said. “It’s an important and powerful story, especially in light of the current immigration issues facing our country.”

The dramatic musical centers on the optimistic Irish immigrant, who joins the United States Army, falls in love with and marries a spirited American woman, before being sent to fight in World War II, where he becomes the reluctant recipient of the Medal of Honor. Along the way, he learns the depths of his love of family, the sacrifices of heroes and the true meaning of becoming an American.

Complementing the story line is the music, which is different than that typically associated with musical theatre and with all the hallmarks of Ireland.

“It has a lot of Irish elements, especially through the use of the fiddle,” says Music Director and Conductor Jenna Lee Moore, assistant professor of musical theatre at Southeast. “There are a lot of different harmonies and vocal textures throughout the show that almost give the ensemble numbers a choral feel.  The music is meant to take you back in time to the 1940s, while still having modern influences.”

Accompaniment, orchestrated by Steve Sensenig, is provided by a five-piece New York-based orchestra; Moore is featured on keyboard. Other musical elements include a violin, woodwinds, French horn and percussion. Performances will feature ensemble pieces as well as solos and duets throughout the musical.

“This is very exciting for all of us,” Moore said.

“An American Hero,” including the script and music, was co-written by Southeast Missouri State University 2017 graduate Cody Cole of O’Fallon, Missouri, and Stilson.

The company consists of current Southeast Conservatory students and professional alumni, faculty and staff. Stilson said he’s not aware of other undergraduate programs performing in the NYMF, adding this offers the students valuable experience.

McIntosh said the invitation for “An American Hero” to be performed at the NYMF “proves, once again, that our incredibly talented and well-trained students can hold their own with current New York City professionals. Around 500 professional actors auditioned for An American Hero in NYC. The competition is intense, and our students shine.

“It’s an incredibly amazing opportunity for our students and another reason why the Conservatory is such a great place to learn,” McIntosh said. “Our students will graduate with a solid, impressive New York credit that will give them a head start on their careers.

Stilson said Southeast’s Conservatory of Theatre and Dance is thrilled and honored to be part of the NYMF.

“There are a lot of musical festivals around the world, but this is the top one for us,” he said.

The New York Musical Festival nurtures the creation, production, and public presentation of stylistically, thematically, and culturally diverse new musicals to ensure the future vitality of musical theater.

Now in its 15th year, the Festival is the premier musical theater event in the world. The preeminent site for launching new musicals and discovering new talent, the Festival provides an affordable platform for artists to mount professional productions that reach their peers, industry leaders, and musical theater fans. More than 90 Festival shows have gone on to productions on and Off-Broadway, in regional theaters in all 50 states, and in more than 24 countries worldwide. Festival alumni have received a wide array of awards including the Tony Award® and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2013, NYMF received a special Drama Desk Award in recognition of its work “creating and nurturing new musical theater, ensuring the future of this essential art form.”

NYMF is the flagship program of National Music Theater Network, Inc., a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization. 2018 NYMF is sponsored by The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, PRG, TheaterMania, Clear Channel Outdoor, Tinc Productions and Fox Stage Productions and is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The NYMF PASS is a great way to experience The New York Musical Festival. With a NYMF PASS, you can get into the theater before individual ticket holders. Passes also offer the exclusive ability to book tickets before they go on sale to the public. Individual tickets on sale now.

The 2018 New York Musical Festival will take place July 9-Aug. 5. For more information, please visit:

*Full List of Company:

Production Team:

Kenneth L. Stilson (Book and Producer), chair of The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance

Cody Cole (Music and Lyrics), 2017 musical theatre graduate of St Louis Missouri

Steve Sensenig (Orchestrations), professional orchestrator and musician

Michael McIntosh (Director), assistant professor of musical theatre, directing and acting

Jenna Lee Moore, (Musical Director/Conductor), assistant professor of musical theatre

Amber Marisa Cook (Scenic Designer), assistant professor of theatre – costume design

Phil Nacy (Sound Designer), associate professor of theatre history and sound design

James M. Miller (Costume Designer), assistant professor of costume design and a freelance designer

Deana Luetkenhaus (Costume Designer), costume shop supervisor for The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance

Christopher Haug (Technical Director), technical director and lighting designer for The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance

Thomas Gilman (Stage Manager), senior theatre major of Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Bart Williams (Fight Director), assistant professor of theatre

Tonya Wells (Southeast Marketing/Graphics), director of University Marketing

Krista Mayfield (Southeast Marketing/Graphics), graphic arts specialist with University Marketing

The Conservatory of Theatre & Dance (Executive Producer)

Southeast Missouri State University (Executive Producer)

Southeast Missouri University Foundation (Executive Producer)

The Holland School of Visual & Performing Arts (Executive Producer)

Kathy Mangels (Producer), vice president for finance and administration

Rhonda Weller-Stilson (General Manager and Producer), director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts

Angela Wilson (Producer), director of development with the Southeast Missouri University Foundation

Tamara Howell (Producer’s Representative), Conservatory staff

Corie Williams (Production Assistant), sophomore musical theatre major of Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Emma Weller-Stilson (Production Assistant), high school junior of Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Adeline Howell (Production Assistant), sophomore of Dallas, Texas


Adam Schween (Thomas), junior musical theatre major of Germantown, Tennessee

Jose Alpizar (Paddy), 2018 musical theatre graduate of Collierville, Tennessee

Josslyn Shaw (Mary), sophomore musical theatre major of Mount Carmel, Illinois

Julia Slomski (Rosie), junior musical theatre major of Woodstock, Illinois

Ellen Carr (Nancy/Dorlores), 2018 acting graduate of Collierville, Tennessee

Kamron Underwood (Finn/Newman), sophomore musical theatre major of Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Rowan Van Horn (Baker), sophomore theatre major with an acting option of Webster Groves, Missouri

Ries Lundstrom (McGarity), sophomore musical theatre major of Granite City, Illinois

Andrew Freeland (Basilone), sophomore musical theatre major of Pikeville, Kentucky

Mason Ramsey (Jacob/Knappenberger), junior musical theatre major of Festus, Missouri

Nick Kuchem (Peters), junior musical theatre major of Washington, Missouri

Joe Schimsa (Mr. Park/Anderson), senior musical theatre major of Pacific, Missouri

Phillip Meinecke (Krauss), sophomore musical theatre major of Marengo, Illinois

April Bassett (Betty), junior musical theatre and theatre design/technology of Rockaway Beach, Missouri

Abigail Becker (Peggy), junior musical theatre major of Independence, Missouri

Hollynn St. Clair (Phyllis), sophomore musical theatre major of Wentzville, Missouri

Madison Jackson (Charlie), sophomore musical theatre major of O’Fallon, Missouri

MacKenzie Hamilton (Ensemble), junior musical theatre major of Valley Springs, California

Andrew Feigenbaum (Ensemble), sophomore musical theatre major of O’Fallon, Missouri

John Pletka (Ensemble), 2016 musical theatre graduate of Yorkville, Illinois

Bart Williams (Ensemble), assistant professor of theatre

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents voted June 12 to offer Dr. Carlos Vargas a new three-year rolling contract to continue as President of Southeast Missouri State University.

According to Board President Donald G. LaFerla, the new contract, effective July 1, 2018, runs through June 30, 2021. No salary increase or additional compensation was awarded with the new contract.

Board President LaFerla noted that the new contract is consistent with the contract structure the Board of Regents approved at its June 26, 2017, meeting and was based on the Board’s assessment of the University’s accomplishments and University President Vargas’ leadership during the past year.

“This University is very fortunate to have a man of Dr. Vargas’ character and credentials as our president, and we want him to know how much we appreciate what he means to us,” LaFerla said.

Some of the accomplishments Mr. LaFerla cited include:

  • The University’s continued progress toward its retention and graduation goals, noting that retention and graduation rates reported in fall 2017 were both at the highest rate since the University began tracking the data.
  • The institution’s success in securing three new program-specific accreditations from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Dance, and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education – all of which attest to the quality and rigor of academic programs at Southeast.
  • The development of multiple new graduate and undergraduate programs such as the Bachelor of Applied Science, new undergraduate Agriculture options, and the Master of Science in Cybersecurity.
  • Execution of the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program which exceeded participation goals endorsed by the Board of Regents.
  • The University’s ability to increase giving and identify new donors through initiatives led by University Advancement and the Department of Athletics.
  • The implementation of the new SE Alerts communication/notification system.
  • The University’s efforts to continue implementing innovative solutions to enhance enrollment and create alternate pathways to degree as evidenced by the addition of new Transfer Mentor Program partners and the corporate degree partnership with TG Missouri.

“I feel honored that the Board of Regents has renewed my contract,” Vargas said. “I continue to be committed and excited to work with the University community to enhance the visibility and recognition of Southeast Missouri State University.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson addressed concerns of area agriculture leaders in a listening session June 13 at Southeast Missouri State University’s David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center.

Parson, a cattle farmer from Bolivar, Missouri, said he is proud to be both a farmer and governor, touting agriculture as the number one industry in the state.

“I know how important this area of the state is to agriculture,” he said.

In a roundtable discussion with area members of the Missouri Farm Bureau, area legislators, Southeast President Carlos Vargas and Dr. Julie Weathers, chair of the Southeast Department of Agriculture, Parson took questions on a range of issues impacting the agriculture community. They included the importance of infrastructure and broadband access, the need for safe water and skilled labor, financial security for farmers, agriculture education and the future of agriculture programs for youth.

Parson said Missouri needs good roads, bridges, rail lines and ports to get its agriculture products to market and warehouses, pointing to the condition of secondary roads as those in greatest need of improvement.

“We can’t keep kicking this can down the road.” he said. “We have to address this issue to prosper and grow.”

Gov. Parson visited with Southeast agriculture students at the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center.

In addition, he advocated for the private sector to partner with Missouri colleges and universities to prepare students with the tools they need to successfully enter the workforce.

“You are going to see a huge emphasis on that out of the governor’s office,” he said.

Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said, “We are a committed and willing partner. We want to be part of the solution. We are very committed to training and preparation for students to be successful.”

Vargas said the University should develop academic programs to meet the needs of the region and that the “intellectual capital around the region needs to be utilized” in the creation of new programs, such as water resource management, to meet emerging trends.

The governor also said he is supportive of educating youth about agriculture, citing declines in people pursuing agriculture-related professions.

“We need young people to get involved in farming,” he said, adding that the financial structure needs to be examined to make agriculture an affordable profession to pursue.

Gov. Parson addresses agriculture issues as part of his listening tour.

Dr. Julie Weathers, chair of the Department of Agriculture at Southeast, told Parson and agriculture leaders on hand that Southeast boasts a 98 percent job placement rate among its agriculture graduates.

“This is their future, and we are excited to be a part of it,” she said.

Parson also advocated for broadband access in rural areas in response to a comment from a farmer who said it is difficult to run a farming operation in an area where internet access is “mediocre at best.”

“Broadband is a huge issue, and we need to figure out how to get it implemented for rural Missouri,” Parson said. “We will do everything we can to make it move forward.”

Parson concluded the listening session, saying, “It is our time to make sure we make Missouri a better state so our children have the same opportunities” we did.

**Top Photo Caption: From left are Dr. Julie Weathers, chair of the Southeast Department of Agriculture; Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University; Missouri First Lady Teresa Parson; and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents Tuesday, June 12, granted post-professorial merit to 10 faculty members and promoted five faculty members to the rank of professor and 16 to the rank of associate professor with tenure. In addition, eight faculty members received non-tenure track merit.

The action came during a closed session meeting of the Board and was based on reviews by appropriate review bodies. All merit, promotion and tenure designations are effective with the 2018-2019 academic year.

Post-professorial merit is a voluntary additional step in the current merit process approved by the Board of Regents in October 2002. Under the bill, faculty become eligible to apply for post-professorial merit five years after attaining the rank of full professor and may repeat the process during the fifth year after any previous successful application. Successful applicants must meet the same criteria as required for promotion to professor and follow the same process of peer and administrative review.

Those approved for post-professorial merit in their designated department are as follows:

  • Allan Bornstein, Department of Biology
  • Kevin Hampton, Department of Music
  • Kenneth Heischmidt, Department of Management and Marketing
  • Tahsin Khalid, Department of Elementary, Early, and Special Education
  • Leisa Marshall, Department of Accounting
  • Kang Hoon Park, Department of Economics and Finance
  • John Scheibe, Department of Biology
  • Sophia Scott, Department of Polytechnic Studies
  • Anthony Varnon, Department of Accounting
  • William Weber, Department of Economics and Finance

In related action, the Board granted promotions to 21 faculty members during the same closed session meeting.

Faculty members promoted to the rank of professor in their designated department are:

  • Toni Alexander, Department of Modern Languages, Anthropology, and Geography
  • D. Susan Kendrick, Department of English
  • Melissa Odegard-Koester, Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling
  • Gangaraju Vanteddu, Department of Accounting
  • Yumin Zhang, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics

Faculty members promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure in their designated department are:

  • Gabrielle Baffoni, Department of Music
  • Christopher Baldwin, Department of Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion
  • Jennifer Bengtson, Department of Modern Languages, Anthropology, and Geography
  • Hyeon Cho, Department of Human Environmental Studies
  • Susan Davis, Department of Elementary, Early, and Special Education
  • Rebeccah Kurzhals, Department of Biology
  • Kimberly Louie, Department of Modern Languages, Anthropology, and Geography
  • Stephen Nettelhorst, Department of Psychology
  • James Newman, Department of Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion
  • Quantella Noto, Department of Management and Marketing
  • Peter Oman, Department of Mathematics
  • Adolfo Ramos, Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation
  • Francis Tayie, Department of Human Environmental Studies
  • Emmanuel Thompson, Department of Mathematics
  • Nicolas Wilkins, Department of Psychology
  • David Yaskewich, Department of Economics and Finance

In addition, non-tenure track faculty members approved for merit in their designated department are:

  • Roxanne Dunn, Kent Library
  • Jonathan Hayes, Department of English
  • Natalie Holley, Department of Communication Studies
  • Bronik Matwijkiw, Department of Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion
  • Pamela Mills, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics
  • Alicia Scott, Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation
  • Scott Thorne, Department of Management and Marketing
  • Christine Warren, Department of English

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents Tuesday, June 12, approved a $114.2 million operating budget and $37.05 million in auxiliary operating budgets for the University, both for fiscal 2019, which begins July 1.

The budget includes tuition and fee rates assessed to students for the 2018-2019 academic year approved by the Board in May. The budget also takes into account expense reductions, revenue increases, the previously Board approved academic restructuring changes, and the realignment of Academic Affairs operational and instructional budgets.

The approved budget is based on a 7.7 percent reduction in state appropriations from FY18 amounting to a $3.37 million decrease for Southeast after one-time withholdings and $1.16 million in costs to continue operations, including mandatory increased retirement contributions.

Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said the University has budgeted for a 7.7 percent reduction in state appropriations in its FY19 operating budget based on former Governor Eric Greitens’ proposed budget. Although the Missouri House and Senate have approved a bill calling for public higher education funding to remain at the FY18 level after one-time withholdings, this bill has not yet been signed, he said.

The $114.2 million operating budget includes $890,000 in revenue increases for FY19 from a small tuition increase for the coming year, an increased overhead contribution from auxiliary operations and an increase in program and web course fees.

The University also has committed to $5.44 million in expense reductions to meet the FY19 budget need. They include scholarship program changes, employee benefit changes, salary and benefit savings from future faculty and staff replacements and vacancies, instructional cost reductions and personnel and operating budget reductions across all divisions. These reductions include eliminating positions in all employee groups across the University, eliminating instruction at the Malden campus and institutional reorganizations.

The budget, which offers no salary increases for FY19 due to budget constraints, includes estimated income of $40.17 million in state appropriations, accounting for 35.5 percent of the University’s total operating budget. The budget also includes estimated income of $69.01 million in student fees, accounting for 60.9 percent of Southeast’s total general operating budget and $4.1 million from other sources, accounting for 3.6 percent of the total budget.

The Regents also approved the fiscal 2019 operating budgets for the University’s “auxiliary” units, totaling $37.05 million. These self-supporting operations include such units as Southeast Textbook Services, the Student Recreation Center, the Show Me Center, the University Center, Telecommunications, Residence Life, Parking and Transit, and KRCU-FM National Public Radio.

Vargas noted that the budgets for Residence Life and Textbook Rental incorporate rate increases approved by the Board in February.

**Photo Caption: Vice President for Finance and Administration Kathy Mangels discusses the budget during a presentation to the Board.