Donald G. LaFerla of Carthage, Missouri, was unanimously elected President of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents following an election during a meeting of the Board today.
In addition, Edward P. Gargas of Dexter, Missouri, was unanimously elected Board vice president. Both will assume their new roles Jan. 1.
LaFerla succeeds Jay B. Knudtson of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as Board President, and Gargas succeeds Kendra Neely-Martin of St. Louis, Missouri, as Board Vice President.
“I have a lot of history here,” LaFerla said. “From a personal perspective, I hope to continue that. I would be honored to serve. I will do everything in my power to move forward the job Jay Knudtson has done. I hope to succeed here with the help of Ed. I will dedicate the next year to do the best job I can. My phone is always on. Any time anyone has any concerns, I am always willing to listen.”
Likewise, Gargas said he is looking forward to serving in his new leadership role alongside LaFerla. He said he is surrounded by people with Southeast ties, including his wife, best friends and many of those with whom he served in the Missouri National Guard.
“It will be an honor to serve and learn from Don,” Gargas said.
Knudtson announced his intentions not to seek re-election as Board President, saying the time was right to step aside so as to allow for an orderly transition to occur on the Board. Knudtson, former Cape Girardeau mayor, was appointed to the Board in 2013 and began his role as Board President on March 1, 2015. He will continue to serve on the Board in 2018 in his final year of a six-year term that runs through Jan. 1, 2019.
Current Vice President Neely-Martin’s six-year term on the Board expires Jan. 1.
Knudtson praised the skills newly elected Board President LaFerla brings to his new Board role.
“I have known Don LaFerla for nearly 10 years and have worked with him in various capacities. Don LaFerla is a born leader with a tremendous passion for Southeast Missouri State University, and I have complete confidence in his ability to serve as Board President of this fine University, and I look forward to working alongside him, Vice President Gargas and the entire Board through the remainder of my term,” Knudtson said.
About Donald G. LaFerla
LaFerla was appointed to serve on the Board by former Missouri Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon in December 2013 with a term expiring Jan. 1, 2019. He is a retired corporate officer and vice president of administrative services with Leggett and Platt, Inc., in Carthage.
LaFerla is a 1961 graduate of Southeast Missouri State College, the forerunner to Southeast Missouri State University, with a Bachelor of Science in biology and geology. He went on to earn a certificate in systems analysis and data processing from St. Louis University-Metropolitan College. LaFerla is a member of the Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital Board, having been both president and vice president. He also is a member of the McCune-Brooks Healthcare Foundation Board, having been both vice president and secretary-treasurer. He serves on the Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board, the Missouri Southern State University Foundation Board and the Carthage Community Foundation, where he has been president. He has previously served on the Missouri Hospital Association Board, the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce.
LaFerla and his wife, Gloria, who is also a Southeast alumna, are the parents of two sons, Jeffrey and Michael, and three grandchildren, Peyton, Cameron and Jadyn.
About Edward P. Gargas
Gargas was appointed by Nixon in September 2015 with a term expiring Jan. 1, 2022. He is director of Operations and Sales for Bagby Wealth Management in Dexter.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University, a Master’s in Business Administration from William Woods University and a Master’s of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. In addition to his experiences in the banking and insurance industries, Gargas has served as Project and Marketing Manager for KMC Construction/ServiceMaster and as Regional General Manager for NewWave Communications.
Gargas is a commissioned officer in the Missouri National Guard and currently holds the rank of colonel. He is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has received four Army commendation medals and many other awards for his performance and service. His assignments in the military have included brigade commander, deputy brigade commander, brigade operations officer, battalion commander, battalion executive officer, battalion operations officer, division engineer and company commander.
He is a member of the First Baptist Church in Dexter as well as various other community and civic organizations, including the American Legion and the Dexter Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Tina have one son, Nate.
**Top Photo: Donald G. LaFerla, left, and Edward P. Gargas, right