Southeast president Ken Dobbins talks about the River Campus

Friday, July 20, 2007
Senator Rod Jetton, left, and Southeast Missouri State University president Dr. Ken Dobbins shook hands after Friday's, Feb. 24, 2006, press conference announcing the end of their dispute over funding for the SEMO River Campus project.

Perched on the bank of the mighty Mississippi River, the River Campus overlooks the great river and the equally striking Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. When completed, the new visual and performing arts center will provide four performance spaces altogether, one in the beautifully remodeled chapel in the old seminary building. The new campus promises to bring new life to Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri State University. Business Today recently spoke with the president of the university, Dr. Ken Dobbins on the issue.

Business Today: How do you think the River Campus will impact the area?

Dobbins: Well, let's talk about the students first. About four or five years ago, there were fewer than 20 theater majors. Now, because of the River Campus, there are 85. We're looking to get about 40 more freshmen coming in. Through economic study we've found for every 100 new students, that puts $1 million back into the economy.

We're going to have a great performing arts series; it will be three series. The touring series which will feature professional groups, our symphony series which will have ours and the St. Louis symphony, and choirs. And we have the theater and dance series which is all ours.

BT: Ticket sales

KD: There are 950 seats in the performance hall. We're currently selling season tickets. We've got master tickets for all three of the series combined, and individual tickets for the three different series. There are 480 top price tickets and 440 of them have already been sold as master season tickets. Add, for example, the touring series that has sold over 175 tickets, and we will have sold almost two-thirds to three-fourths of the theater seats before the seats are even in there. And it isn't just city residents, the mayor of Caruthersville has bought tickets. We've had ticket sales in New Madrid and Sikeston. The River Campus is not going to affect just Cape Girardeau, it's going to affect the entire region. There are many people not from this city, or this county, that are coming to the River Campus. It's going to bring a lot of activity to local businesses. It's a real opportunity for our region to have cultural activities and it's important for the students to participate, to experience, as well.

BT: Final thoughts

KD: It will definitely be an economic driver for the downtown area, but for the west side, too. We are the retail and restaurant hub of the area. People will come to the show then go eat, or eat and then go to the show. It is going to impact all of it.

I am just excited as can be. It's already exceeded my expectations and I think we are going to have a wonderful experience. It's going to be great for the community, great for the region, and great for the students.

A tentative grand opening for the River Campus is scheduled for October 21 at 3 p.m., the Sunday of Southeast's Homecoming weekend.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: