Southeast Missouri State University and Mineral Area College look to resolve dispute

For some students in Cape Girardeau County, right now the future is murky when it comes to a community college education.
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - When you think of community college, you may see it as an affordable way to get a higher education degree.

For some students in Cape Girardeau County, right now the future is murky when it comes to a community college education.

It’s because of a dispute between SEMO and Mineral Area College.

The partnership between Three Rivers Community College and Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau is coming to an end. The Cape College Center allowed students to take classes for college credit towards a degree at either school .

Now, Mineral Area College based in Park Hills, is replacing Three Rivers, and would like to be able to offer a two year degree without SEMO’s involvement.

These would be degrees in trade or health professions.

President, Dr. Joe Gilgour said it could benefit students in Cape County.

“We have met with school districts in Cape County and surrounding areas and overwhelmingly they tell us that the Cape College Center is confusing for students, students often don’t know which college they’re going to,” Gilgour said.

Gilgour’s goal is to make a stand-alone community college.

“We really don’t feel that us just taking the spot of Three Rivers Community College in that setting is good for students. Financially it could work, somewhat, it would be a little bit of a stretch. we really don’t feel like it’s a good setup for students,” he said.

Southeast President, Dr. Carlos Vargas said having a separate college offering general education classes could negatively impact the university and he’d rather move forward in a partnership like Three Rivers.

“And provide students with access to general education by sharing revenue and expenses to operate that way and by having the students be able to receive some of the support services the university has in place,” Vargas said.

A mediator with the Coordinating Board for Higher Education is working with both schools to help them try to reach an agreement.

“We hope that they will sit down with us and hopefully agree to the existing agreement and ways to actually enhance it and do it jointly because I think that’s going to benefit the students in this region better than anything else,” Vargas said.

If SEMO and Mineral Area College don’t reach an agreement, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education will make a final decision.

Until that decision is made, the students will not know where they are going to school.

Southeast’s Vice President said they’re working with current CCC students to offer them scholarships to continue their education at the university.

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