Southeast Welcomes Second Largest Student Body in School History

convocation 2015

New students react during the Welcome Convocation.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 25, 2015 – On the heels of two consecutive decades of steady enrollment growth, Southeast Missouri State University welcomes its newest students – a group focused on their future — to campus this week as it announces its first-day fall enrollment figures.

Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success, says the University’s newest students represent the cornerstone of Southeast’s focus on ensuring that students are prepared to launch extraordinary careers when they graduate.

Move-In 2015 from Southeast Missouri State Univ. on Vimeo.

Cierra Colbert of Millstadt, Illinois, enters the institution with dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Elena Nunez of Kirkwood, Missouri, arrived Thursday, aspiring to become a chiropractor and to combine her love of science and art by illustrating textbooks of the anatomy and the body in motion. Denia Peacock of O’Fallon, Missouri, envisions a career in journalism at a newspaper or magazine and hopes to get a jumpstart on that plan with experience at The Arrow, Southeast’s student newspaper. And beginning freshman Dalton Cowan of Buckley, Illinois, says mathematics is his strong suit; he hopes to study actuarial science en route to a career in the insurance industry.

Total fall 2015 enrollment stands at 11,411 today, slightly off from an historic high of 11,580 in fall 2014. First day enrollment figures indicate fewer adult learners are enrolling this semester, a trend that typically follows a lower unemployment rate. Preliminary first-day figures indicate total undergraduate enrollment at 10,082, international students at 1,130, African American students at 1,007 and Hispanic students at 198.

These students, like those who have come before them, will continue to be offered tremendous academic opportunities that propel them forward on their path to success. Despite the shrinking number of students graduating from high schools in Missouri and Illinois, Southeast remains attractive to traditional-aged students in the region as well as transfer students, Below said.

Welcome Back Picnic 2015 2

The Welcome Back Picnic offered students food and giveaways from Cape Girardeau businesses and organizations, University departments and student organizations.

According to today’s report, transfer student enrollment stands at 683 today, up from 630 in fall 2014.

“With an estimated 60 percent of jobs in Missouri requiring a two- or four-year degree by 2018, we are excited to see our transfer enrollment numbers on the rise this fall,” said Lenell Hahn, director of Admissions at Southeast. “Missouri’s goal is to have 60 percent of working-age adults with a degree or certificate by 2025.  Seeing students who have some college coursework choose to continue their education is important in meeting this goal.”

She, in part, credits the jump in transfer student enrollment reported today to new academic programs, online resources for students, staff assistance in the transfer process and community college partnerships.

move-in 2015 2

Nearly 1,000 volunteers helped new students move into Southeast’s residence halls.

“With many areas of study nationally accredited and several new degree offerings, a beautiful campus in a college town and a mid-size university with most classes having fewer than 50 students, Southeast is a true ‘best buy,’” Below said.

Quality academic programs remain the hallmark in Southeast’s student recruitment efforts, she said.

Dr. Allen Gathman, dean of Online Learning and director of the Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning, echoed Below’s comments, saying “Southeast has an unusually large number of new online programs this fall, most of them in the field of healthcare.  In addition, the Department of Psychology is beginning its online Bachelor of Arts in psychology in response to consistent demand in the region.”

The health care offerings are diverse, with a Bachelor of Science in healthcare management, a Master of Science in healthcare management, a new online specialization in healthcare administration in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, as well as four specialized certificate programs in healthcare management:  administration, quality, informatics and communications, Gathman said.

“All of these programs are designed to meet the needs of working people for advancement in their professions,” he added. “Psychology is a program that we frequently receive requests for from people in a variety of fields. As for healthcare, this is a growing part of the economy, and one that cannot be readily outsourced.  While we continue to offer face-to-face programs in pre-medicine, pre-dental, pre-physical therapy and nursing, we know that many people are already in full-time jobs where a higher degree or a certificate would allow them to advance.  For these working people, often an online degree program is the only viable means to obtain the further education they need.”

Convocation 2015-4

New students make their way into the annual Welcome Convocation.

Dr. Charles McAllister, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies, agreed with Gathman, citing Southeast’s new academic programs as a contributing factor in the University’s growing graduate student enrollment reflected in today’s report.

Total graduate student enrollment stands at 1,329, up from 1,139 in fall 2014.

“The increase in new graduate students is due, in part, to the University’s development of new graduate programs and investment in additional faculty positions in areas such as healthcare administration, technology management and applied behavior analysis,” McAllister said.

Southeast also has expanded its summer camps program in an effort to expose students to the University early and to develop their college readiness.

move-in bash 2015

Students celebrated the start of the 2015-2016 academic year at the annual Move-In Bash.

Dr. Bruce Skinner, assistant vice president for Student Success and Auxiliary Services, said Southeast had 3,192 campers this summer, up 8.5 percent over last year and almost 1,000 camp and conference participants from 2011.

“The summer camp and conference program is important for our campus as it provides a direct connection between a wide range of students and the University. For some students attending the camp this may be their first experience with the University and this provides an opportunity for the University to connect with the student,” Skinner said. “It may be this connection translates into the student attending the University in the future or it may be that this is the opportunity for the student’s family to get a feel for how the campus might be a good fit for their son or daughter.”

Two areas where Southeast has seen growth in its summer camps are for students interested in the arts, such as chamber music or the percussion camp, and in specific science/math related camps, such as robotics, Girls Go Green, and the Boy Scouts STEM camp.

Dan Noble, vice president of Options Trading with the Equity Services Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis, sent his son, Kyle, to “STEM on CAMPus,” hosted at Southeast in June for Boy Scouts in the region to earn STEM Merit Badges and Nova Awards.

“My wife and I were both very impressed with the University and the facilities, and we were thrilled to get a chance to explore a little. Kyle proudly showed us the labs that he was working in and I have to say I was very favorably surprised,” Noble said. “And LaFerla Hall is gorgeous. As a result of our time there, we have now added SEMO to the list of Universities that we will explore when the time comes, which is coming all too soon.”

Vargas at Move-In

President Carlos Vargas greeted students at the Towers Complex during Move-In.

Camps like these provide a unique academic experience where students work with University faculty on areas specific to that student’s interest and the faculty members areas of expertise, Skinner said.

“Over the past two years the campus has focused its efforts to improve the summer camp and conference experience by offering a more diverse set of programs and by further developing our partnerships with other off-campus organizations, such as the Greater St. Louis Area Boy Scout Council this summer, to bring their summer camp experience to the Southeast campus,” he said.

Southeast is accepting applications for the fall 2016 semester and students are encouraged to apply in November to meet the Dec. 1 deadline for early scholarship consideration and on-campus housing.  Apply online at