As a regional center for commerce, medical care and education, Cape Girardeau has a well-deserved reputation for getting things done. Many important projects have advanced after going through a vetting process that engages community discussion and review. That process has been underway for quite some time regarding the possibility of establishing a community college here in addition to Southeast Missouri State University.
Absent from these discussions has been Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo. An estrangement that began a couple of years ago when Southeast and Three Rivers ended their cooperative programs at centers throughout Southeast Missouri continues to this day. So when Three Rivers announced, without benefit of local input, that it intends to open a center in Cape Girardeau, it looked like a pre-emptive shot.
Why propose a center when the needs-assessment report hasn't been issued? Three Rivers' plan, which requires approval from the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, hasn't been formally proposed to the CBHE. And any such proposal would need to include a needs assessment.
Rather than an independent course of action by one community college, future students will be best served by a coordinated effort. That's the CBHE's job. The Three Rivers plan will be a test of the CBHE's resolve.