The energy that’s come with the return of our students to campus this fall is a dynamic I truly enjoy! Whether it’s spending time conversing with students, attending their athletic events, sharing a meal with them or observing them actively learning, each of these opportunities gives me great pride in our student body and the good work of Southeast Missouri State University.
I am delighted to share that Southeast opened the fall 2019 semester with a record high fall to fall retention rate of 75.3% for first-time full-time students! Our six-year graduation rate also has improved to 49.7% from 2018, meaning we are making progress towards the goals we set in 2016 to retain at least 80% of all first-time, full-time students to the second year and graduate at least 60% of this cohort in six years. Our new Copper Dome Scholarship Program is proving effective with more than 70% of first-year students receiving scholarship aid, up from 30% previously. We are very proud that our new Will To Do Award will help our Pell-eligible freshmen beginning in fall 2020 in covering their unmet tuition and general fees, making their cost for tuition and general fees $0! Assisting our most financially at-risk students with resources to better provide access to higher education in our area is crucial.
So is providing a quality education, which is why reaffirming our accreditation status is so important. I would like to bring you up to date on the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Comprehensive Quality Review process in which we’ve been actively engaged. As you may know, over the past few years, Southeast has prepared for the HLC Comprehensive Quality Review as part of the University’s reaccreditation process. We are now in the home stretch of this process, and an HLC Comprehensive Quality Review team recently completed a two-day campus visit. The review team is preparing its final report that will go to the HLC Institutional Actions Council for final consideration. Thank you for supporting our institutional accreditation effort and our continuous improvement initiatives, and for contributing to our strong tradition of excellence at Southeast!
I would like to close by giving a shout-out to our tremendous student athletes who have performed exceedingly well this fall. Our volleyball team began by claiming two tournament titles early this season, most recently the Beale Street Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Our women’s soccer team is also off to a great start, and our football team opened the season, claiming the War of the Wheel for the second consecutive year, defeating rival Southern Illinois University-Carbondale before a crowd of more than 8,300 at Houck Field. The football team is now in conference play, and I can’t wait to see how all our student-athletes finish the remainder of their seasons.
Now, sit back and enjoy this edition of the magazine as you learn about the progress we’ve made over the past year in aligning our “Enhancing Recruitment and Student Success” plan with our University Strategic Plan. With higher education rapidly evolving, we are working to quickly adapt to a changing landscape. I am very proud of the work that’s been done, and with our collective vision, I am confident we will achieve all our goals.
-President Carlos Vargas