KENNETT, Mo., April 30, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University-Kennett will celebrate May 5 both the dedication of the Doyle L. Privett Science Lab and the retirement of Southeast’s 17th President Kenneth W. Dobbins and First Lady Jeanine Larson Dobbins.
The events are scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Kennett Campus, 1230 First Street in Kennett, Missouri. The reception and tours of the facility will immediately follow the dedication ceremony. The public is invited.
The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents Feb. 28 named the science lab at Southeast Missouri State University-Kennett for Privett, a Kennett resident, a member of the Southeast Board of Regents for 16 years, former president of the Board and chief financial officer of Kennett National Bank.
“I am very grateful to the Board and to President Dobbins for recognizing me with this honor,” Privett said. “The Kennett campus means a lot to me and I am proud every day when I drive by and see what the citizens of Kennett have made possible for anyone in our community that wishes to continue their education.”
Southeast Missouri State University – Kennett was dedicated June 30, 2000, and serves the southern Bootheel of Missouri and Clay, Green and Mississippi Counties in northeast Arkansas. The City of Kennett purchased the facility, a former Kroger grocery store, valued at $750,000 and donated it to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. The City of Kennett then invested $450,000 in renovating the building for educational purposes. Privett has been instrumental in the continued growth of Southeast’s Kennett campus through fundraising efforts, and he has served for a number of years as the chairman of its Advisory Council.
The Doyle L. Privett Science Lab opened at the Kennett campus in fall 2004. Located on the east side of the building, the lab serves students enrolled in biology, microbiology, anatomy I and II, physical science and chemistry courses. The 1,212-square-foot lab – which includes both a laboratory area and prep room — was completed thanks to a Delta Regional Authority grant and private donations made during fund-raising efforts in 2002 and 2003.
“The Science Lab was a very important addition to the Kennett campus. The goal of offering complete bachelor’s degrees on the Kennett campus would not have been possible if it weren’t for the addition of a state-of-the-art science lab,” said Marsha Blanchard, director of Southeast Missouri State University-Kennett. “Some bachelor’s degrees, such as elementary and middle school education, and agribusiness, require students to take biology, chemistry and physical science courses that have a lab requirement. The science lab is one of the most scheduled and used rooms on campus due to the number of lab science courses offered every semester.”
Blanchard said she is pleased to have Privett’s name associated with the science lab.
“Doyle has been actively involved in Southeast Missouri State University – Kennett since the concept was simply an idea. Through the years, he has been involved on a regular basis offering leadership and support to the Kennett campus. Doyle’s consistent contributions have definitely made an impact on the lives of many who have had the opportunity to earn a University degree at the Kennett campus,” Blanchard said.
Privett was first appointed to the Board of Regents in December 1994 by Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan to fulfill an unexpired term. He was reappointed to the Board in 1997 and served until January 2004. Five years later, in April 2009, Privett was again appointed to the Board by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to serve a six-year term. He served as president of the Board from 2013 to 2015.
“For almost two decades, he has spent countless hours in service to our students, faculty and staff, and the region, and the University community has benefited greatly from his dedication,” Dobbins said.
Dobbins commended Privett for his commitment to ensuring residents in the Bootheel region are provided access to a quality, affordable education, noting that Southeast has seen significant growth at each of its regional campuses in Kennett, Malden and Sikeston, Missouri, during Privett’s service to the University.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, the Kennett Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the board of directors of Kennett National Bank. He currently serves as president of the Kennett Industrial Development Authority, and is the recipient of the Daily Dunklin Democrat 2004 Community Service Award.
Privett received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in accounting from Southeast in 1973. He is a member of the Missouri Society of CPAs and served on the group’s board of directors. He also served as president of the Southeast Chapter of CPAs.
He is past president of the Kennett Chamber of Commerce and the Kennett Jaycees and has served on the boards of the Dunklin County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center and the Boy Scouts of America District Council. Privett also has served as an elder, church treasurer and junior high youth group leader with Kennett Presbyterian Church.
He has been married to his wife, Bonnie, since 1974. They are the parents of Brian and Brooke, who are both Southeast graduates, and they have one grandson. Their son Brian, who is a 2003 graduate of Southeast with a double major in biology and chemistry, is an ophthalmologist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and their daughter Brooke received an undergraduate degree in music and one of her two graduate degrees from Southeast. Brooke was the first, and also the longest-serving Rowdy the Redhawk mascot in Rowdy’s short history. Today, Brooke is employed in International Student Services at Southeast Missouri State University.
The events in Kennett May 5 also will recognize the retirement of Southeast President Kenneth W. Dobbins and First Lady Jeanine Larson Dobbins. Last September, President Dobbins announced he will retire effective June 30, after serving nearly 16 years as president. Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, acting president at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, has been named the 18th president of Southeast Missouri State University. He will assume the presidency on July 1.
Dobbins was named president of Southeast on July 1, 1999. He previously served as the University’s Vice President of Finance and Administration from 1991 to 1993, and Executive Vice President from 1993 until his appointment as president. During his presidency, record enrollments have occurred in the University’s service region due to the establishment of regional campuses in Kennett and Sikeston and a higher education center at Perryville serving place-bound students in and near those rural communities.
Mrs. Dobbins has served as First Lady of Southeast Missouri State University since her husband, Kenneth W. Dobbins, became the 17th president of the University in 1999. In addition to serving as First Lady, Mrs. Dobbins has had an extensive career in education, specifically in the area of early literacy education. From 1991 until her retirement in 2010, Mrs. Dobbins was instrumental in bringing innovative, research-based approaches to teaching reading to Missouri students. She is the founder and was the first director of the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program (MSELIP), and she worked tirelessly to ensure that Missouri children received a firm foundation in reading.
Dr. and Mrs. Dobbins have a son, Paul Larson Dobbins, and a daughter-in-law, Stacey Borage Dobbins, who are both Southeast graduates, and two grandsons, Lincoln Kenneth Dobbins and Brady Larson Dobbins.