Coordinating board orders annual report on Southeast, TRCC centers

Friday, December 9, 2005

The Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education on Thursday ordered Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers Community College to annually report on the operations of their competing Bootheel education centers.

Seven board members supported the measure at the meeting in Jefferson City. Board member Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau abstained because she said she wanted to avoid any conflict of interest.

She is a graduate of Southeast. A brother-in-law serves on the Three Rivers board of trustees.

The board accepted the recommendation of higher education commissioner Gregory Fitch, who spent months trying to mediate a feud between the two colleges.

Unable to resolve the dispute, Fitch recommended that state education officials closely monitor the operation of the higher education centers in an effort to avoid unnecessary duplication of services in Southeast Missouri.

At Fitch's request, the annual report will include an analysis of the need for the various higher education centers. The report will detail budget and expenses, tuition and fees, enrollments, and program/course offerings. It also will look at student progress and services offered at the centers.

The report must be submitted to the coordinating board by July each year, Fitch said.

Southeast and Three Rivers had a long-standing partnership in which both schools taught classes at Southeast's Bootheel education centers in Kennett, Malden and Sikeston.

But the partnership dissolved after Southeast announced in February that it would take over teaching of all classes at the centers at the end of the spring semester.

Three Rivers accused Southeast of breaking a contractual agreement in which the community college paid rent to teach classes at the centers.

Southeast said Three Rivers wasn't paying sufficient rent. Southeast said it made the move to generate more revenue to cover its costs at the centers.

Three Rivers sued Southeast. The lawsuit is pending.

The community college this fall opened its own education centers in Sikeston, Kennett, Malden, Bernie, Campbell and Portageville.

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