Donald L. Dickerson Named ‘Friend of University’


Photo of Donald L. Dickerson

Donald L. Dickerson will receive the 2007 Friend of the University Award from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 15, 2007ᾰDonald L. Dickerson, member of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents for 12 years and president for eight, will receive the 2007 Friend of the University Award from the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, will present the award Oct. 19 at the Copper Dome Society/ Merit Award Recognition Program in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus.

The “Friend of the University” award, which recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University, is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. When the Foundation Board established the award, it also established the criteria for the Friend of the University. The Friend of the University must have the respect of the community and the University, and must have acted to confirm their interest and involvement with the University.

Dickerson, this year’s recipient, received his bachelor of art degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 1954 and his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.   

Dickerson was first appointed to the Southeast Board of Regents in April 1993 by the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, and was elected president of the Board of Regents on Oct. 4, 1996. He served as president through December 2004.

During his service as Board president, Dickerson dedicated his time and effort to enhance University facilities, expand the University’s academic programs and accomplishments and improve the campus environment through strategic administrative policies.

“Don’s service to Southeast Missouri State University is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Dobbins. “During his dozen years on the Board, he provided the vision and leadership to significantly enhance nearly every area of the University.

“He is a true visionary who has given his heart and soul to higher education in this region,” the president said. “His tenure on the Board will be remembered as an unprecedented period of growth and accomplishment for the University. On behalf of our students, faculty, staff and alumni, we are extremely pleased to be naming him the Friend of the University as a token of our deep gratitude for his remarkable service to Southeast.

“Most significantly,” Dobbins added, “as we prepare to celebrate the grand opening of the River Campus, we recall that it was Don’s vision in 1998 that initiated the idea of transforming the abandoned St. Vincent’s Seminary property into a school of visual and performing arts. Now, with these magnificent facilities serving our students, our community, and our region, it is appropriate that the Friend of the University Award this year recognizes his leadership in bringing this dream to reality.”

Before Dickerson finished his term as president of the Board, he provided leadership for several new facility improvements for the University, including completion of the planning and funding phase of the River Campus project; planning and construction of the Seabaugh Polytechnic Building; planning for the Research Park project at the former University Farm on I-55; construction of a new entrance, plaza, student organization space, and the Skylight Terrace at the University Center; planning for a new Broadway-Henderson entrance to the campus; and construction of a transmitter to expand KRCU-FM coverage to the Mineral Area via KSEF-FM.

In addition to his service to the Board of Regents, Dickerson has served as a member of the Southeast Dean’s Advisory Council to the Harrison College of Business, the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, the Foundation Board of Directors, the Copper Dome Society and the Southeast Booster Club.  Dickerson also has been a lecturer for the Missouri Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Program.

Dickerson was presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree from Southeast during commencement exercises in May 2005. An honorary doctorate is one of the most prestigious awards presented by the University and has been awarded to only seven individuals for distinguished achievement, accomplishment or service that is recognized by peers in the field and by a broader spectrum of society.

A partner in the firm of Dickerson, Hill & Lange, LLC,  Dickerson is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Federal Bar, the Cape Girardeau County Bar, the American Bar Association and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Infrastructure Projects Completed during Dickerson’s tenure as a Regent:

  • Construction of Robert A. Dempster Hall
  • Construction of Otto and Della Seabaugh Polytechnic Building
  • Construction of New Hall (residence hall)
  • Total interior renovation of Carnahan Hall
  • Construction of the Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston
  • Acquisition, remodeling and expansion of Southeast Missouri State University-Kennett
  • Acquisition and remodeling of the Perryville Higher Education Center
  • Three expansions of the Crisp Bootheel Education Center at Southeast Missouri State University-Malden
  • Construction of Towers/Greek Housing Parking Garage
  • Renovation of West and North Towers to suite style accommodations (residence halls)
  • Renovation of Greek Housing
  • Construction of Expansion to Student Recreation Center-North
  • Construction of Expansion to Show Me Center
  • Construction of Skylight Terrace addition to University Center
  • Construction of the Facilities Management headquarters
  • Acquisition and partial remodeling of Washington School
  • Renovation of the Power Plant
  • Construction of the Charles L. Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse
  • Construction of new intramural and softball complex
  • Construction of new tennis complex (Sprigg and Bertling)
  • Construction of phase one of the multi-modal transfer (parking) facility
  • Construction of the internal campus transitway
  • Renovation of Houck Stadium, including artificial playing surface installation
  • Acquisition of First Baptist Church property for parking, South Campus Student Recreation
  • Center, Foundation offices and Innovation Center/Business Incubator
  • Developed a fiber optic “backbone” throughout the campus for information technology and provided local area network access in all residence hall rooms

Academic Achievements during Dickerson’s presidency

The University also made tremendous academic strides during Dickerson’s service on the Board of Regents. Following is a listing of some of those academic achievements:

  • Secured accreditation for Harrison College of Business by the AACSB (now listed by Princeton Review as one of the Best Business Schools in the nation)
  • Secured initial national accreditation for several other academic programs, including: Industrial Technology, Recreation, Social Work, Dietetics, Early Childhood Education, Nursing, Counseling, Engineering and Physics
  • Completed successful re-accreditation process for several academic programs, including: Teacher Education (NCATE), Music, Chemistry, Communication Disorders
  • Completed successful initial accreditation process for five programs in the Department of Communication (journalism, advertising, public relations, radio and video production.)
  • Secured 10-year overall accreditation by the North Central Association with five areas of distinction
  • Began cooperative doctoral programs with the University of Missouri
  • Began the “Southeast PM” program to permit obtaining degrees at night
  • Began several academic programs, including international business, environmental science, Master of Social Work and degrees in industrial technology
  • Began planning for Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts at the River Campus

Administrative policies developed during Dickerson’s tenure include:

  • Developed 1995-1996 strategic plan for the University
  • Developed an enhanced mission for the University, including outreach to the region through four regional campuses, an interactive instructional television network and development of a School of Polytechnic Studies to teach advanced manufacturing technology and related subjects
  • Conducted review of all academic and non-academic programs after budget cuts, resulting in reduction of more than $3.6 million in base budget savings, elimination of four academic programs, reduction of more than 40 positions and a lean administrative and academic structure
  • Maintained the University’s position as the most affordable of Missouri’s comprehensive regional institutions despite fee increases necessary to cope with unprecedented reduction in state appropriations from 2002-2004
  • Developed a revised, focused strategic plan after program review
  • Established the Missouri Research Corporation to focus on regional economic development
  • Saw enrollments grow to all-time record numbers (from 7,925 in 1994 to more than 9,600 in 2004)
  • Completed a $35 million capital campaign
  • Approved transition from “Indians” and “Otahkians” nicknames to “Redhawks”
  • Began active solicitation of federal funds, achieving more than $20 million in earmarks since 1999