Southeast to Inaugurate Dr. Carlos Vargas as 18th University President


Vargas softballSoutheast Missouri State University will affirm its past, define its purpose and look to the future when it inaugurates Dr. Carlos Vargas as the 18th president of the University May 5 in the Show Me Center.

The inauguration is scheduled for 2-3:30 p.m. with a reception to follow till 5 p.m. The campus-wide event is open to the public, and all are welcome. A live stream of the event will be available at

The ceremony will feature a keynote address presented by a mentor of Vargas, Dr. Tomás Morales, president of California State University-San Bernardino.

The inauguration will open with Southeast students Andrea Cox and Austin Cordell presenting a welcome. Southeast’s Air Force ROTC Straight Arrow Drill Team will post the colors, and Southeast student Andrew Thomas, a senior vocal performance major, will sing the National Anthem.

The ceremony will feature a processional of Southeast faculty and professional staff followed by a video presentation of historical University highlights produced by University Communications and Marketing. Peter Jacobsen, 2015-2016 Student Government president, will present greetings from the students. Dr. Willie Redmond, professor of economics, will present greetings on behalf of the faculty and staff, followed by Vicki Boren, president of the Alumni Association, who will deliver greetings from the alumni.

After the keynote address, Board of Regents President Jay Knudtson will present Vargas with the Presidential Medallion, after which President Vargas will deliver his inaugural remarks.

The ceremony will close with Andrew Thomas singing the Alma Mater.

Inauguration events will begin that morning with a full slate of activities.

  • Tours of the Academic Hall dome will be available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors should check in at the President’s Office in Academic Hall Room 144.
  • Campus shuttle tours will be offered at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon beginning at the Show Me Center. Narrating the tours will be Dr. Frank Nickell, assistant director of the State Historical Society of Missouri in Cape Girardeau and associate professor emeritus of history and director of the Center for Regional History at Southeast.
  • Open houses are planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the College of Education, Scully Building, The EDvolution Center; Donald L. Harrison College of Business, Robert A. Dempster Hall; Kent Library, main floor; and the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, River Campus. Tours and refreshments will be available at each location.
  • Students will gather at Academic Hall at 11 a.m., where food, music and free T-shirts will be available. At 12:45 p.m. they will assemble and march together to the inauguration at the Show Me Center.
  • Student participants in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) spring break seminar at the Washington, D.C., think tank will display a research presentation of their work at 11 a.m. on the Show Me Center upper concourse. The seminar and associated UI498 Senior Seminar course examines global issues in foreign policy, food security, global health and challenges in civil society that will profoundly affect the world by 2035.

Vargas farmVargas was named president of Southeast Missouri State University March 4, 2015, and took the reins July 1. After serving as acting president at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Vargas replaced Southeast’s 17th President Kenneth W. Dobbins, who retired June 30.

“The inauguration of a new president at Southeast Missouri State University is a celebration of the history of this great institution – the start of a new chapter in Southeast’s 143-year tradition,” said Bill Holland, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation and chair of the Presidential Inauguration Committee. “An inauguration is a time of celebration and anticipation, a moment when an academic institution can showcase its role to a wide audience.”

This ceremony places Southeast front and center, and highlights the University’s importance to this region, he said.

University inaugurations are steeped in age-old tradition, Holland said. Though they vary widely from one institution to another and from one president to another, inaugurations reflect the history and traditions of higher education, such as the coat of arms, university mace, academic regalia, and processional march, which date back to the Middle Ages. An event distinguished by great ceremony, a presidential inauguration stands out as celebratory milestone in a university’s life, he said.

Vargas and Rowdy in Busch“The inauguration is designed to showcase the importance and value of the University to the region we serve,” Vargas said. “Bringing together community leaders, dignitaries, friends of the University, and academic representatives from throughout the Midwest will offer a unique moment to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements and our success.”

The inauguration signifies the formal investiture of leadership.

“As I accept the Presidential medallion, I will pledge to continue on a path of educational excellence charted by not only the 17 presidents who preceded me, but also by the outstanding faculty and staff that have assisted in educating thousands of students since its founding in 1873,” Vargas said.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

“I hope everyone will feel free to come as they are, no matter where they’re coming from or going to after the event,” he said. “It is open to all and we welcome everyone.”

Details regarding all the arrangements are available at the inauguration website at .  While R.S.V.P.s are not required, they will help with proper preparations, University officials said.

About President Carlos Vargas

The appointment of Dr. Vargas by the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents culminated a comprehensive and wide-ranging search process that began in the fall of 2014.

For more information about Vargas and his career in higher education, visit