Three Rivers Community College wants to open an educational
center in Cape Girardeau County in 2008, moving onto the home turf of Southeast
Missouri State University.
The plan comes about two years after the schools parted ways
on three higher education centers they used to run together. When state funding
changed, Southeast Missouri State said it was losing money on the arrangement.
When the schools couldn’t agree on finances, control and rent, Southeast
evicted Three Rivers from centers in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett in 2005.
A lawsuit Three Rivers filed against Southeast Missouri for
breach of contract remains unresolved, scheduled to be heard next year. And
both schools have opened separate regional educational centers in southeast
The executive vice president at the Poplar Bluff-based
community college, Larry Kimbrow, said Monday the work to open an educational
center in Cape Girardeau County is “totally unrelated” to the
educational center dispute with Cape Girardeau-based Southeast Missouri.
Outside observers don’t agree: “Let’s get ready to
rumble!” wrote one person, who did not give a full name when posting an
Internet comment on the latest development.
And even those with a more measured take on the matter say
the dispute between the schools must be a factor.
“I think this is related to the lawsuit,” said
businessman Earl Norman, who has been advocating for more educational
opportunities in the Cape Girardeau region.
He said that months ago, representatives from the region met
and requested that the state fund a study to assess educational needs in the
“This really is an effort to pre-empt that study, if
you will,” he said. “I think they should sit back and wait a little
bit.” That study has not yet been commissioned.
Kimbrow said the community college has a four-county taxing
district in Butler, Carter, Shannon and Wayne counties. But it has a 15-county
service area, designated by the state, that includes Cape Girardeau County. The
Cape Girardeau plan would still need state approval.
The community college already has more than 30 satellite
locations where classes are offered, including five larger educational centers
in Sikeston, Malden, Campbell, Kennett and Portageville. The Portageville site
is run in conjunction with the University of Missouri extension center, he
“There’s been a huge outcry from residents to start a
new community college in Cape,” he said. “We have a viable program we
can take into their area.
“We didn’t do this because of the eviction at the
He said Three Rivers could offer associate of arts,
associate of applied science and associate of arts in teaching programs in Cape
Kimbrow said the Cape Girardeau center could cost roughly
$300,000 to open, with funds coming from the community college’s reserve fund,
not new taxes. It would aim to have about 200 students two years after it
An official at Southeast Missouri State University said that
institution believed interested parties had agreed that a study of the region’s
needs should be done before any steps were taken.
Art Wallhausen, associate to Southeast Missouri’s president,
argued against duplicating services in the county. He said, for instance, that
17 associate of applied science degrees are already offered in the Cape
Girardeau area by four institutions.
In addition to its Cape Girardeau campus, Southeast Missouri
has regional centers in Perryville, Sikeston, Malden and Kennett.
Kimbrow said Three Rivers could provide new educational
opportunities in the Cape Girardeau area, as well as enroll those not accepted
to Southeast Missouri.
Wallhausen said Southeast Missouri is a moderately selective
school for admissions, but said the school has a one-semester program for
students not accepted to prepare them for Southeast.
Missouri’s Commissioner of Higher Education Robert Stein
said the department had not yet received Three Rivers’ proposal. The Missouri
Coordinating Board for Higher Education meets in October and could take up the
matter at that meeting.
– Associated Press
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