Southeast’s Sikeston Campus Celebrates 10 Years of Success


Banquet Planned for Jan. 31 at Sikeston Armory

Photo of the Sikeston Campus

This month, the Sikeston campus celebrates its 10th anniversary and its continued growth and success in the Sikeston community.


Jan. 16 , 2008 – Groundwork for Southeast Missouri State University – Sikeston, originally called the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center, began more than 35 years ago, when Sikeston community members recognized a need for, and made a commitment to make higher education available in their community. Southeast Missouri State University has worked with the Sikeston community to help them realize this dream for more than two decades, ultimately resulting in the Sikeston campus. This month, the Sikeston campus celebrates its 10th anniversary and its continued growth and success in the Sikeston community.

Southeast will celebrate the start of the tenth year for the Sikeston campus at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Sikeston Armory. Missy Marshall and Lori Fowler are co-chairs of the event.

The program will include Southeast President Kenneth W. Dobbins who will discuss the growth of the Sikeston campus, and students will share their experiences and thoughts on the advantage of having a campus in Sikeston.

One of those students will be Greg Hill, a nontraditional student who has been well served by the Sikeston campus. Hill is enrolled full-time in spring classes at Sikeston as a human resource management major and plans to graduate in May 2012. In addition to being named to the Dean’s List last summer, he is a parent and employed full time, working 12-hour shifts at Good Humor Bryers. Hill says he would like to continue working for Good Humor after he completes his degree.

Hill, who earned his G.E.D., says he loves to travel, has been bunge jumping and hopes to parachute this year. He is the father of four children, ages 16, 15, 8 and 7. 

Also speaking at the banquet will be Julie Milam Riley, one of the first students to attend classes at the Sikeston campus. Riley has completed both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree through Southeast and is currently employed by Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

Three companies will be recognized for providing newly endowed or restricted scholarships.  These scholarships are awarded to students enrolled in classes at the Sikeston campus who meet the criteria for each scholarship.

Sponsorships for the event are available at three levels.  Individual tickets are $30.  For more information on the banquet, contact Jan Jackson at the Sikeston campus at (573) 472-3210 or e-mail Jan at

A Decade of Higher Education in SikestonSoutheast initially offered lower-division coursework to the community at the Sikeston Area Vocational-Technical School. In 1994, the Sikeston Public Schools, City of Sikeston, Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers Community College partnered to provide further higher education and technical training programs to the Sikeston community.

As their educational opportunities increased during the 1990s, the community realized the need for a permanent structure to house the higher education programs. With the assistance of area legislators, the community received $1.5 million from the State of Missouri to begin construction of the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center. Sikeston voters also voiced their support by overwhelmingly approving a $3 million sales tax issue in 1998, providing additional funding for construction of the center. Also in 1998, a temporary facility opened in a building donated by the City of Sikeston.

In August 2000, the newly constructed Sikeston Higher Education Center opened, with an enrollment of nearly 500. The 33,000-square-foot building features eight classrooms, a science lab, computer lab, ITV classroom, electronics lab, industrial maintenance lab, manufacturing lab, customized training lab, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) lab, and a student resource/study room.

By fall 2004, enrollment at SAHEC had exceeded 750, and Sikeston voters approved a continuation of the sales tax for $2.1 million to fund a building addition. Construction of the nearly 11,000-square-foot addition was completed in December 2005. The expansion included four additional classrooms, office space and a 3,000-square-foot child development lab, which provides child care for infants through preschool. In addition to serving students and employees, the child development lab is available to families in the community as well. The lab also provides experience for students earning degrees in child development.

 An existing manufacturing lab also was converted to a computer lab and science laboratory during the expansion.

In 2005, classes began solely being offered by Southeast Missouri State University. In 2006, the center’s name changed from the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center to Southeast Missouri State University – Sikeston.

Programming at the campus includes 100 to 400 level University studies courses and graduate courses in education. Other courses, including online courses, enable students to complete requirements for several degrees entirely at the Sikeston campus, including bachelor of science degrees in human environmental studies, child development and interdisciplinary studies, as well as a bachelor of general studies degree.

In fall 2007, Southeast, in cooperation with Missouri Southern State University, began offering course requirements for completion of an associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene. Renovations, funded through legislation, were made to existing space to provide a state-of-the-art dental hygiene training lab for the program. The new lab will be unveiled at a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house Jan. 31.

Later this year a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education grant will pave the way for an outdoor classroom in connection with the campus Child Development Center. The outdoor classroom will allow children to explore and experience science, math, music, art, sensory and block play in designated learning centers in an outdoor setting. The goal is to create a nature exploration area where children can connect with the natural world.

“The Sikeston campus has so much to offer, for both the recent high school graduate and the older, non-traditional student,” says Jan Barkett, an alumna of the Sikeston campus and registered nurse who now serves on the center’s advisory board. “People who might not otherwise attain higher education have the opportunity to study here in their own community. The location, convenience and class schedules allow students to obtain college credits while working or caring for their families. The Sikeston campus is a wonderful resource in this region, and as the number of students attending the campus continues to grow, so does our pride in this outstanding facility.”

In addition to having the opportunity to complete several degree programs without ever setting foot on the Southeast campus, students at the Sikeston campus are offered additional services associated with the main campus as well, according to Judy Buck, director of the Sikeston campus.

“Students can pick up and return textbooks at the Sikeston campus; have access to library resources, including delivery and return of resources using Southeast courier service; access to tutoring; assistance from computer lab assistants; on-site advising; and scholarships and other financial assistance,” Buck said. “At least 17 local scholarships are available to students attending classes at the Sikeston campus that were established by area donors,” she added.

“Enrollment at the Sikeston campus continues to grow,” Buck said. “The opportunities provided to many individuals who would not otherwise be able to complete a college degree is a dream come true for many.”

Ethel Turk, a lifelong Sikeston resident and a senior majoring in business administration and minoring in social work at the Sikeston campus, agrees, and appreciates how accessible it is for people in her community to get an education at the campus.

“I wish we’d had this years ago when I was a teen – I’d be out by now,” Turk, a non-traditional student, said. “I like not having to do all that traveling to earn your degree. It gives a lot of opportunities for people to advance that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

While Turk is now planning to move on and complete her degree at the main campus, she has nothing but praise for the campus where she started. Reflecting on the 10 years since the Sikeston campus was established, she feels the campus has done a lot for her hometown.

“The campus is great for our area,” she said. “There are many people who think it’s hard to go to school, but this campus makes it possible. This is a great place to start. The students and faculty are great, and they really work with you.”

Turk also appreciates the support the community has shown for the campus.

“I’m thankful for all the donors who have supported the campus and the scholarships for students,” she said. “I hope the campus celebrates many more anniversaries, and the strong support it receives from the community continues.”

The Sikeston campus not only serves the educational needs of Sikeston residents, but also residents in more than 10 counties in Southeast Missouri, as well as residents in northwest Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas and Texas. In fall 2007, 768 students from 23 counties and 71 communities, ranging in age from 15 to 68, were served at the Sikeston campus.