Southeast Regents Extend Contract of President Vargas


Dr. Carlos Vargas speaks at 2021 Admitted Student Day.

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents voted at its July 27 meeting to offer Dr. Carlos Vargas a new three-year rolling contract to continue as President of Southeast Missouri State University.

“Southeast Missouri State University has benefited greatly from the leadership of University President Vargas,” said Board President Edward P. Gargas. “He is a tireless advocate for the University in the Cape Girardeau community and throughout the state, and the Board felt it appropriate to extend his tenure as University President.”

According to Gargas, the new contract, effective July 1, 2021, runs through June 30, 2024. The Board also voted to approve the same salary increase for Dr. Vargas that the Board approved for all University employees at their June 25, 2021 meeting.

Board President Gargas noted that the new contract is consistent with the contract structure the Board of Regents approved at its June 26, 2017 meeting and that the action concludes the annual evaluation of the University President, which included a self-assessment report and an assessment by the Board of the University’s accomplishments and University President Vargas’ leadership during the past year.

Some of the accomplishments Mr. Gargas cited include:

  • The University’s continued progress toward its retention and graduation goals, noting that the University’s fall 2020 retention rate of 80 percent met the goal set by the University President after his arrival at Southeast, and is the highest rate since the University began tracking the data. The graduate rate of nearly 51% recorded in fall 2020 represents an improvement of about 2-points over the last two years.
  • The institution’s work to reduce barriers to admissions by providing admissions options for students who self-report high school information; expanding test-optional admission and scholarship options; eliminating the domestic student application fee for undergraduate and graduate students; and in response to COVID-19 developing a pathway for new international students to start their academic program as online students.
  • Successful reaccreditations in several academic disciplines and areas of study, including, but not limited to social work, nursing, sport management, business and theater.
  • The University’s designation as a Yamaha Institution of Excellence, one of the first institutions in the country to receive this designation, recognizing the Holland College of Arts and Media as a premier destination for performing arts.
  • The University’s success in securing resources totaling more than $9 million for repairs, renovation and replacement of the remaining 10 high-priority underground utility tunnels; nearly $500,000 for the creation of a new critical care simulation lab to be developed in collaboration between Southeast’s Department of Nursing and SoutheastHealth; and almost $2 million for enhancements to the University’s computer science and cybersecurity programs.
  • The completion of Bond Refunding resulting in gross savings in debt service of nearly $5.1 million over the remaining life of the bonds.
  • Southeast’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that allowed the University to start and end on time without campus closures or interruptions; and included the delivery of face-to-face classes, the execution of nine graduation ceremonies, the ability to support student activities and the completion of athletic competitions.
  • Redhawk Athletics won the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Cup, the first in University history.

“Since Dr. Vargas arrived at Southeast in 2015 he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the University,” Gargas said. “Despite having to lead through many difficult situations such as budget reductions and COVID-19, he has helped the University achieve many successes and positioned Southeast well for success now and in the future. The passion that he and First Lady Pam Vargas have for the institution is unmatched and we are delighted to have both of them at Southeast. University President Vargas has the full support of the Board and we are grateful for all he has done and will continue to do.”


Vargas joined Southeast Missouri State University as its 18th President on July 1, 2015.