The origins of the Alumni Association can be traced as far back as 1902, when the Southeast Normal Alumni Association pledged a campaign to raise $250,000 in order to rebuild the Normal School building after it had burned down two months earlier. The new building would come to be known as Academic Hall. This is one of the first recorded instances of alumni support in the university’s history. In 1948, a special committee composed of faculty, students and alumni began preparations for a two day “Diamond Jubilee” to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the university. In order to gather funds for the event, it was decided that all Alumni Association members should pay a one dollar membership fee. Thus, the idea of the alumni association as a dues-paying organization was formed.
In 1970 the Alumni Association paid tribute to the history of the university by supporting the creation of a massive mural in Kent Library which was to depict the entire history of Southeast Missouri. The mural was completed in time for the University’s Centennial Celebration in 1973. Southeast alumnus and famed Missouri journalist John Blue wrote an editorial piece on the mural and its significance.
It isn’t just the education from books, and in recent years a whole new index of learning materials, that the university has given to us. It is much more.
Here, for 100 years young people have come to learn to live with one another in a social environment that has brought breadth and meaning to their lives. They have met and mingled and married, raised families and, in the words of the university’s Alma Mater, see that their—“Sons and daughters more shall gather, here to laugh and love and grow.”
For many years of the Alumni Association’s existence there was not Alumni Director, but rather an Alumni Secretary. The job of the Alumni Secretary was to keep records, as well as reach out and keep contact with the alumni. The position of Alumni Director was not created until around 1973, and is geared towards providing a valuable and engaging relationship between the university and its alumni.
In 2010 the Alumni Association went through a radical restructuring of its membership levels. The new membership structure would consist of three levels; Members, Redhawks Members, and Founding Members. As of July 1, 2010, all former students of the university became members of the alumni association. The alumni association was no longer a dues-paying organization, and joined the recent trend of free-to-join alumni organizations.
The Aleen Vogel Wehking Alumni Center is at 926 Broadway in a building formerly occupied by Cape Girardeau’s First Baptist Church. During the fall and spring semesters the Alumni Center is generally open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays. Our spring break and summer hours are from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The building is closed during major holidays and during the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Our main phone number is 573-651-2259 and the Alumni Relations Department’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alumni Center’s Kem Statuary Hall, which once served as the sanctuary for the former church, is home to a number of sculptures and statues which came from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Longtime Regent Louis Houck acquired the statues on behalf of the “Third District Normal School” (as the University was originally known) and they were displayed for many years in Academic Hall. Many of the pieces were subsequently housed in Memorial Hall before the University acquired the church and converted it into the Wehking Alumni Center in 2007.