Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins became the seventeenth president of Southeast Missouri State University on July 1, 1999 after serving as the University’s Vice President of Finance and Administration from 1991 to 1993, and Executive Vice President from 1993 until his appointment as president. He previously held several positions in higher education administration at Kent State University in Ohio.
During his tenure at Southeast, academic programs have been enhanced including the establishment of the College of Science, Technology, and Agriculture and the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts which opened in Fall 2007 on the new River Campus. A comprehensive review of all academic and non-academic programs has been accomplished to maintain quality and minimize student fee increases in the face of significant state appropriation reductions. Southeast continues to be recognized nationally for many of its outstanding accredited academic programs. For the eighth year in a row, Princeton Review recognized the Master of Business Administration program on its list of “Best Business Schools.” GetEducated.com listed Southeast #1 on the list of “Top 10 Ranked Best Values Online MBAs-AACSB-Accredited”; Southeast is recognized in the top tier of the Midwest best regional universities in U.S. News Best Colleges for 2012; and Southeast was again named among the “Best in the Midwest” by Princeton Review. Additionally, StateUniversity.com ranked Southeast the safest public college campus in Missouri, Militaryfriendlyschools.com lists Southeast among the top schools that embrace veterans as students, and recent freshmen survey data indicate that new students applied only to Southeast at a rate three times the national average.
Enrollment has increased significantly since a 20-year-low in 1994 when some 7,900 students attended Southeast. In Fall 2005, enrollment topped 10,000 for the first time, and stood at more than 11,500 in 2011. Additionally, record enrollments in higher education have occurred in the University’s 25-county service region during his tenure due to the establishment of new regional campuses in Sikeston and Kennett and a higher education center at Perryville serving place-bound students in and near those rural communities.
During Dr. Dobbins’ presidency, more than $300 million in capital construction and building improvement projects have enhanced the University. The Seabaugh Polytechnic Building and the $58 million River Campus were constructed. Additionally, The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to promote entrepreneurship and enhance the region’s economy opened on the campus in 2005; Southeast dedicated its new, state-of-the-art David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center in 2009; two new 300-bed residence halls were constructed in 2002 and 2009; and the University currently is in the midst of more than $90 million in capital renovation for maintenance and repair projects including the renovation of the historic 106-year-old Academic Hall, the remodeling and upgrades to the Magill and Rhodes sciences complex and a new residence hall.
Dr. Dobbins has served a two-year term as president of the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), the organization for presidents and chancellors of Missouri’s public colleges and universities, and is the senior member of the organization. In 2007, he was selected to serve a three-year term on the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Board of Directors, an organization which represents over 420 U.S. public college and university members and more than 3.7 million students or 56 percent of the enrollment at all public four-year institutions. He was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the organization in 2008, chaired the organization in 2010-2011, and currently serves on the executive committee as past chair of the AASCU Board. Also, for the past eight years, he has served as one of four faculty members for the week-long AASCU New Presidents’ Academy, and currently chairs the Finance Committee of the American Academic Leadership Institute. He previously served three years as president of the Ohio Valley Conference and is currently a member of the Conference finance subcommittee. In addition, he is a vice president of the executive board of the Greater St. Louis Council, Boy Scouts of America, and in 2010, he was awarded the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a Boy Scout volunteer by a council.
He earned his B.S. degree in accounting from the University of Akron (Ohio) in 1971 and served as a commissioned officer and civilian executive in the U.S. Air Force for almost 10 years. He received the M.B.A. degree in 1979 from Old Dominion University (Virginia), and the Ph.D. in higher education administration in 1987 from Kent State, where in 2011, he was awarded the Alumni Leadership Award for the College of Education, Health and Human Services Annual Hall of Fame Awards He is also a Certified Public Accountant in Ohio.
Dr. Dobbins and his wife, Jeanine Larson Dobbins, Founder and Director Emeritus of the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program based at Southeast, have a son, Paul, and a daughter-in-law, Stacey, who are both Southeast graduates, and a grandson, Lincoln Kenneth Dobbins.