Dobbins Accepts Five-Year Contract Offer to Continue as Southeast President


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 29, 2003 – Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins today accepted a new five-year contract to continue as President of Southeast Missouri State University, according to Donald L. Dickerson of Cape Girardeau, President of the University’s Board of Regents.

Mr. Dickerson said the Board of Regents decided at its June 27 executive session to offer Dr. Dobbins the new contract, based in part on the Regents’ observations of his “outstanding leadership over the past four years” and in part on the results of a comprehensive performance review involving both on-campus and off-campus constituents of the University.

The Board President added that the decision on Dobbins’ contract was also made since Dr. Dobbins was beginning the last year of his contract and due to “the high level of demand in the national marketplace for chief executive officers with Dr. Dobbins’ outstanding financial expertise” – demand caused by the financial issues that public colleges and universities nationwide have experienced over the past two years.

“The Board knows that Dr. Dobbins has been approached by several universities about taking other positions in higher education. We appreciate his loyalty to Southeast, and we did not think it right that he continue as one of the three lowest-paid presidents among Missouri’s public four-year institutions, based on the latest Coordinating Board for Higher Education survey,” Mr. Dickerson explained. “At some of our sister institutions, even new CEOs with no prior presidential experience are better paid than our president.”

Under terms of the agreement signed today, Dr. Dobbins will receive the same 2% plus $500 base salary increase as other University employees for Fiscal Year 2004 – a contract amount of $143,810 base pay. In addition, his current monthly housing allowance of $1,000 and an annuity payment of $20,000 annually will continue at those levels.

Mr. Dickerson said that in order to make Dr. Dobbins’ total compensation more comparable to other public university chief executive officers in Missouri, and to reflect the Board’s desire to keep him in the presidential leadership position at Southeast, the Board voted to provide one-time funds for Dobbins to add four years of his service as an Air Force officer to his service record with the Missouri State Employee Retirement System (MOSERS), as permitted by MOSERS regulations. The cost to Dr. Dobbins of purchasing the four years of service will be $64,000. This cost will be defrayed by the University over a four-year period, using one-time dollars. This does not increase his base salary, and the contract stipulates that he must serve as president until June 30, 2008, or must repay a pro rata amount to the University if he does not.

Dr. Dobbins became the 17th president of Southeast Missouri State University on July 1, 1999. He came to Southeast Missouri State University in 1991 as Vice President for Finance and Administration and served as Executive Vice President from July, 1993 until his appointment as President after the resignation of President Dale F. Nitzschke.

Mr. Dickerson explained that the Board of Regents initiated the process of reviewing the performance of President Dobbins in April, as required by Board policy at the conclusion of a Southeast President’s fourth year in office. The review process was conducted by Dr. Patricia Ryan and the staff of the Office of Institutional Research. Survey forms and scan sheets were mailed to all full-time faculty and staff and to a representative sample of students.

In addition, the Board sent letters requesting written comments about Dr. Dobbins’ performance to a cross-section of individuals beyond the campus community who interact regularly with the President of the University and who may be in a position to evaluate his performance – legislators, other elected officials, major donors, University Foundation Board members, National Alumni Council members, and members of other external groups.

Mr. Dickerson said the report on this review process was received by the Board on June 27. “The Board is pleased that the overall results of the review indicated a very positive assessment of Dr. Dobbins’ leadership, with more than half of both employee and student respondents (53.4% and 60.8%, respectively) rating his overall performance as high or superior (6 or 7 on a 7-point scale).”

Mr. Dickerson noted that the Institutional Research report to the Board stated that the President’s overall performance median score (most central scores) from the employee group, as well as from the All-student group was 6, the second highest possible score. The mode score (most common score) for both employees and students was 7, the highest possible rating.

“The positive assessment from the campus was echoed by our off-campus constituents, whose comments indicated that the President is effective in representing the University’s interests in Jefferson City, with donors and prospective donors, and with area community leaders,” Mr. Dickerson said.

“In summary,” the Board President said, “the majority of responders indicated respect for Dr. Dobbins and clear recognition of the skills he brings to the position. Many acknowledged the President’s financial expertise as an asset in dealing with the current fiscal crisis within higher education. These responses coupled with the comments provided by external constituents attest to a high general level of satisfaction with President Dobbins.”

Mr. Dickerson added, “In addition to the laudatory written comments which were provided by many University faculty, staff, and students, some individuals offered a number of valuable suggestions to Dr. Dobbins on ways he might improve his performance and the University’s operations. The Board has discussed these ideas with Dr. Dobbins and will be working with him to implement the constructive comments received from these constituencies.”

In announcing the new contract, Dickerson noted that during Dr. Dobbins’ four years as President, the University has achieved a record Fall Semester enrollment of 9,352 students, and built a new residence hall for the first time in over three decades. Southeast also launched a number of significant initiatives in such areas as institutional planning, academic program enhancement, facilities construction and renovation, and outreach to the region.

In the area of planning, Dickerson said, Southeast completed most of the goals envisioned in its 1995 strategic plan and developed a new five-year plan.

In the area of academic program enhancement, he continued, the University created the School of Polytechnic Studies, began work on curricular and organization structures for a proposed new School of Visual and Performing Arts, and launched several new academic degree programs, including bachelor’s degrees in Fine Arts, Management Information Systems, and Manufacturing Engineering Technology and a master’s degree in Engineering Technology.

In the area of facilities improvement, Dickerson said, Southeast under Dobbins’ leadership secured state appropriations for the new River Campus, constructed the Otto and Della Seabaugh Polytechnic Building, renovated the Café Court and built an expanded dining area at the University Center, and completed the first two phases of a plan to renovate a deteriorating Houck Stadium — installation of an artificial grass playing surface and repairing and painting the façade. The institution also completed construction of an addition to the Student Recreation Center and new outdoor recreation facilities, including a varsity softball field; and a renovation of all units in the Group (Greek) Housing complex.

In the area of outreach to the region, Dickerson continued, Southeast partnered with the state and local community to build a new $4.5 million facility for the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center to serve Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid Counties; renovated and dedicated a building to serve as the Kennett Area Higher Education Center; and acquired, renovated, and opened a building for the Perryville Area Higher Education Center.

“The Board of Regents believes that this record of accomplishment, coupled with Dr. Dobbins’ financial expertise, the respect he has achieved among leaders in our service region and government officials in Jefferson City, and his record of positive relationships with major University donors, warrants his five-year contract under the terms we have agreed upon,” Dickerson said.

“Despite the ongoing crisis in state funding for higher education,” he concluded, “the Board and I look forward to another five years of progress under Ken Dobbins’ leadership.

President’s/Chancellor’s FY 2002 Compensation Comparisonas of May 2002

Institution  President/Chancellor   Total Compensation (w/o Housing) University of Missouri – Columbia   Richard Wallace $212,938  Truman State University Jack Magruder   $200,534   Northwest Missouri State University  Dean Hubbard   $199,372  University of Missouri – Rolla  Gary Thomas   $197,618  Harris-Stowe State College   Henry Givens, Jr.   $193,690  Southwest Missouri State University  John Keiser   $184,588  University of Missouri – Kansas City   Martha Gilliland   $183,768  Missouri Western State   James Scanlon   $179,837  University of Missouri – St. Louis  Blanche Touhill  $179,584  Lincoln University  David Henson   $167,443  Southeast Missouri State University   Kenneth Dobbins   $160,500  Missouri Southern State   Julio Leon   $146,913  Central Missouri State University   Bobby Patton   $145,000  

  Source: Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, President’s/Chancellor’s Compensation Survey, FY2002.