CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, March 4, 2015 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today announced the appointment of Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, acting president at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, as the 18th president of Southeast Missouri State University. He will assume the presidency on July 1, 2015.
The appointment of Vargas culminates a comprehensive and wide-ranging search process that began following the announcement in September 2014 that President Kenneth W. Dobbins will retire effective June 30, 2015.
“Southeast Missouri State University is an outstanding university with a national reputation, and I am honored to have been selected as its next president,” Vargas said. Vargas said that as he became more familiar with the university, he was impressed with various aspects of Southeast including its core mission, accreditation efforts, online programs and the diversity of its students.
“When I visited the Southeast Missouri State University campus, I was impressed with the institution’s long history of service to the region and its unique strengths,” Vargas said. “I know Southeast is deeply committed to being accessible and affordable, and continuing to offer accredited academic programs where graduates can meet the needs of employers. I look forward to working with the Board of Regents, the faculty and staff to support the individual and collective objectives of the institution.”
Jay B. Knudtson, President of the Board of Regents, said Vargas has distinguished himself as an academic leader and fiscal manager since joining Kutztown University in 2006 as its provost and then acting president. “For the past eight months, he has begun to implement his strategic vision for Kutztown and his experience and his commitment to academic excellence make him the ideal choice to lead Southeast Missouri State University institution into the future.”
“Having had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Vargas during the search process, and having spoken with him at length about his vision for our university, I have no doubt that he is the right choice to lead Southeast Missouri State University as we begin a new era in our history,” Knudtson said.
Vargas was named acting president of Kutztown University by the institution’s Council of Trustees, July 1, 2014, following Kutztown University’s succession plan for acting president. He served as the provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, and had been the school’s chief academic officer since 2006.
Prior to his tenure at Kutztown, Vargas was at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs. He previously served in several roles at Kent State University (Ohio) for a total of 18 years, including the director of the program on electron beam technology. He was also Kent’s associate dean for research, interim assistant dean for research, and he served as interim assistant dean for the School of Technology. He started his tenure at Kent State in 1985 as a professor, and continued to teach until his departure from the university.
Vargas began his career in higher-education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), from which he received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics. While at UNAM, he was a senior associate researcher for the Institute of Geophysics, and held the same role for UNAM’s Institute of Physics.
He earned his Ph.D. in physics and aerospace science from the University of Michigan and he has Master of Science degrees from Michigan in physics and in aerospace science. He is married to Pam Vargas, who currently serves as executive director of Kutztown University Research Center, and they are the parents of two children.
Doyle L. Privett, former president of the Board of Regents, served as chair of the Presidential Search and Screening Advisory Committee. The Board secured Parker Executive Search to assist with the presidential search, and the Presidential Search and Screening Advisory Committee was appointed. The committee was comprised of regents, administrators, faculty, staff, students and members of the community. Privett said there were a total of 46 applicants for the position, and the Presidential Search and Screening Advisory Committee met Jan. 22nd to choose 10 of the applicants to be interviewed in St. Louis February 2nd and 3rd.
“Nine applicants actually participated in the process,” Privett said, “where all of the members of the committee were present and interviewed each of the individuals face-to-face. Each interview was about an hour and 15 minutes long and included questions about their leadership style, philanthropy, fundraising history, the role of athletics and their personal history. From those nine, the committee invited four to campus during the weeks of February 16th and 23rd for a very extensive interview process that allowed for all of the campus community to have a chance to see and interact with those candidates and to submit evaluations via the presidential search website.”
The members of the Board of Regents then reviewed all the evaluations submitted by faculty, staff, students and community members, considered four candidates and met Saturday, February 28th. The members of the Board of Regents unanimously selected Vargas as the 18th president of Southeast Missouri State University. At the conclusion of the process, Privett said, Vargas stood out as the ideal candidate to lead Southeast.
“Our goal from the start of the search process was to identify a candidate who would honor the past, but will also move the university forward,” Privett said. “We wanted someone who understood the mission of a regional comprehensive university, and what makes Southeast unique. We also wanted a candidate who could provide the leadership skills in helping the university community contribute to its success going forward,” Privett said. “We believe strongly we have found that unique individual in Dr. Vargas.”