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SEMO Holds First Ever Homecoming Block Party on 150th Anniversary, Announcing Transformational Plan

Southeast Missouri State University President, Dr. Carlos Vargas addresses the crowd at the base of the steps of Academic Hall on Fri. Oct. 13th, 2023.
John Moore
Southeast Missouri State University President, Dr. Carlos Vargas addresses the crowd at the base of the steps of Academic Hall on Fri. Oct. 13th, 2023.

Among the excitement for the first-ever Homecoming Block Party, there was something even bigger planned, as Southeast Missouri State University celebrated its history and 150th anniversary with a crowd of students, alumni, community members, faculty, and staff.

Southeast Missouri State University President Dr. Carlos Vargas made the much anticipated big announcement to help SEMO transform into the next chapter.

"We are formally launching today the public face of the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in our history. Our goal for this campaign is $60 million. And tonight, I am happy to report that we already are at 64% of our goal of the way to achieve this milestone because of support from our alumni and friends", said Vargas.

Citing the rapid change in business and technology currently underway, he said the University isn’t insulated from these factors, and must also change, adapt, and innovate to revolutionize learning and continue preparing students for successful careers. Vargas said the University must also make prudent and profound investments in academics, technology, facilities, and athletics.

Among the several announcements of projects and partnerships, he noted:

  • A partnership with IBM and construction to start this year of a new Cyber Command Center to enhance SEMO’s respected cybersecurity program
  • A new health sciences facility is currently being designed to be built where Dearmont Hall now stands. This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $10 million with 65% ($18.4 million) financed with non-federal governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. Details are available at https://www.hrsa.gov/
  • Continued and expanded partnerships with businesses and organizations that will benefit student experiential learning
  • Work to raise funds for the next phase of the Houck multipurpose development which includes the press box
  • Work to raise funds to finalize a third arts complex building at the River Campus to locate all arts students in learning at Missouri’s only campus dedicated to art, dance, music, and theatre
  • Plans for a benefit comedy show with SEMO’s notable alumnus Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles

The event concluded with a duet between Haley Hudson, a BFA musical theatre major at the Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, alongside Sydney Sutton, a Freshman BFA musical theatre major, singing 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

SEMO’s University Foundation is spearheading the Transforming Lives campaign to focus donor investments on the programs, ideas, and priorities that will transform SEMO and its students. Campaign information can be found at SEMOtransforms.org.