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President: Three Rivers will be part of higher education center

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

(Photo)
The Three Rivers Community College campus in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
(Daily American Republican file)
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- As he stood next to a Poplar Bluff hotel he plans to turn into a worker retraining center Monday, Three Rivers Community College president Devin Stephenson said he will not give up on plans to also establish new facilities in Cape Girardeau County.

He said the college was not included in negotiations with Southeast Missouri State University and Mineral Area College when the institutions drafted proposals for a higher education center.

"They left us out," he said.

Stephenson said he is drafting a counterproposal to include the three institutions. He said he also wants to include the city of Jackson and Saint Francis Medical Center in the conversations.

He said he will have a meeting with Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins and Mineral Area president Dr. Steven Kurtz within the next two weeks.

(Photo)
Three Rivers Community College president Devin Stephenson and Roberty Drury are seen during a news conference Monday in Poplar Bluff. Drury Hotels made a multimillion dollar donation to the school.
(Paul Davis ~ Daily American Republic)
"A proposal that does not include [Three Rivers] will not be approved," he said.

Monday, Stephenson accepted a multimillion dollar donation from Drury Hotels, one of the businesses represented on the 11-member coalition that has been evaluating higher education in the county. The hotel chain donated the Poplar Bluff Pear Tree Inn and neighboring restaurant on North Westwood Boulevard.

Stephenson said he plans to use the two facilities totaling 76,320 square feet for worker retraining programs and to build technology programs for allied medical and criminal justice programs. He said he also wants to use the hotel restaurant to launch a culinary arts program.

Drury Southwest president Dennis Vollink said Three Rivers' expansion will benefit the region.

"When they expand, they help the employment," he said.

A new higher education center in Cape Girardeau will also bring more employment, he said. As the coalition works out the details, he said his focus is expanding opportunities for students.

"Something is going to happen that is going to be great," he said.

Stephenson said he supports putting a facility in Jackson. If the university locates there, the city will donate 15 acres off U.S. 61.

"There needs to be a teaching site there," he said.

He said he wants to include Saint Francis Medical Center to help expand allied medical programs.

"The real question that needs to be asked is why were they left out," he said.

Saint Francis spokeswoman Felecia Blanton said hospital officials have met with the college president.

"We're open to any and all sources that would provide additional education for any number of health care professions," she said.

Dobbins said he did not deliberately leave Three Rivers out of discussions. He said it was more practical for Southeast and Mineral Area to base their proposal on their established relationship at the Perryville Higher Education Center.

"Instead of reinventing the wheel, we thought it would be wise to do a pilot for three years," he said.

He said he planned to include Three Rivers as the center evolved, depending on demand for its services. He said he is willing to listen to Stephenson's proposal, but said it will have to be "seamless" and easily accessible for students.

Southeast's plan calls for technical training at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, where Mineral Area already offers programming. Locating a facility for general education courses in Jackson away from the career center would be less accessible for students, he said.

"It'll be more difficult for students to get back and forth," he said.

Southeast is looking to establish a center near West Park Mall that would be ready by fall 2010.

Stephenson said he could convert a facility on U.S. 61 near Interstate 55 by January 2010. He said the college has accomplished similar projects in the past.

During the summer of 2005 the college opened centers in six locations throughout Southeast Missouri, including Sikeston.

"We know how to do that better than a regional college," Stephenson said. "We know how to do that better than a technical school."

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

One University Plaza Cape Girardeau, MO

2080 Three Rivers Boulevard Poplar Bluff, MO


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Points to consider...

"They left us out," he (Stephenson) said.

In March 2005, TRCC was unwilling to help shoulder the cost of operating Southeast's higher education centers while benefiting from offering freshman- and sophomore level college courses. In 2005, TRCC officials accused Southeast of kicking them out , and now TRCC's new president is complaining about feeling left out...what's next???

http://www.semissourian.com/story/157524...

"During the summer of 2005 the college opened centers in six locations throughout Southeast Missouri, including Sikeston."

http://www.trcc.edu/about/campuses.php

Let's see...Campbell, Kennett, Malden, Portageville, and Sikeston. How long was #6 open, and why did it close?

Also, this isn't the first time TRCC planned on coming to Cape Girardeau...

http://www.semissourian.com/story/124477...

It's not the first time TRCC wanted to partner with SFMC...

Three Rivers refused to enter into a partnership with SEMO and couldn't come to terms with Saint Francis Medical Center.

Three Rivers Community College won't offer nursing classes in Cape Girardeau because the college and Saint Francis Medical Center can't agree on a contract.

http://www.semissourian.com/story/113406...

On July, 26, 2009, the MO Auditor's report story included details revealed for 2006, 2007, and 2008 re: TRCC. Obviously, three years of accounting nightmares cannot be resolved in one month, plus a few days. An institution that wasn't reconciling bank accounts, wasn't aware of assets, wasn't monitoring inventory, etc., now wants to open another facility. The coalition needs to read the full audit report before the next meeting. Three consecutive years of TRCC not following standard accounting principles speaks volumes.

"We know how to do that better than a regional college," Stephenson said. "We know how to do that better than a technical school."

Really?

http://www.semissourian.com/story/155749...

http://auditor.mo.gov/press/2009-71.pdf.

-- Posted by NewsToMe on Tue, Sep 1, 2009, at 9:50 AM

Stephenson is a slick sellsmen.

He and TRCC have no track record in the Cape/Jackson area and he thinks he can come to Cape/jackson and set up shop.

I think he needs to get TRCC in order first and I would think his board would want that also.

We know how to do it better than a Regional College and a Technical school????

These organizations he is refering to (SEMO,CTC) have been doing a Great job for years in the Cape/Jackson area.

Who does he think he is??? and Where did he come from in Alabama.

-- Posted by hide-and watch on Tue, Sep 1, 2009, at 11:16 AM

"NewsToMe," in brining up all that old business, under old administration, you failed to point out what Dr. Stephenson has tried to do with SEMO: http://www.semissourian.com/story/153589...

Also, don't forget how the new TRCC board dropped the lawsuit with SEMO.

I think Dr. Dobbins track record needs to be examined closely by the coalition.

-- Posted by Chief 'Broom on Tue, Sep 1, 2009, at 11:37 AM

Follow the money, my friends.

-- Posted by Chief 'Broom on Tue, Sep 1, 2009, at 12:03 PM

Oh give me a break folks! The only thing Dobbins is interested in his money and how flashy he can make Southeast.

Stephenson tried singing "Kum By Yah" with Dobbins back in the spring when they sign some sort of a degree agreement. But obviously Dobbins talk of the two schools working together was just another in his same slick lines.

Stephenson seems like an honest guy who genuinely cares about the students. He has apparently enthused the folks at Three Rivers --- look at their great enrollment increase this fall. All Dobbins could muster at Screamo is a measly 1.3 percent increase!!! Something must be going in the right direction at TRCC!!

You know - I think Dobbins is probably a little intimidated by Stephenson and company. Slick Dobbins can't roll over this new guy the way he did the old president and has evidently rolled over the fella from MAC!

Dobbins can't be trusted as far as you can run from one new fountain at Screamo to another!

-- Posted by irishmolly on Tue, Sep 1, 2009, at 10:00 PM

Here's something to consider regarding "Dr. Dobbins track record needs to be examined..."

In spring 2005, Dr. Dobbins had the foresight and integrity to see that something had to change for the benefit of our university, students, and the service region. TRCC's steadfast refusal to pay an equal share of the operating costs could no longer be tolerated. Examine the link below and then applaud Dobbins' efforts.

http://www.semo.edu/news/index_6048.html

I'm sure some people would prefer not to talk about "all that old business and the old administration" and just look at what TRCC's new president has tried to do. Just as Obama inherited all the problems of the Bush administration, so goes it for Stephenson, like it or not.

To be sure Stephenson won't continue to feel "left out" here's a little tidbit for "Hide & Watch" since you asked were Stephenson came from in Alabama. Seems he had a problem with state auditors there...

"The Snead State Community College position became vacant last year after state auditors found problems with the way former President Devin Stephenson used school money (more than $180,000) to renovate a home he lived in. The home, owned by Snead State Community College, was renovated without taking bids for the work, and Stephenson failed to make monthly rent payments as required, auditors found. Chancellor Roy Johnson transferred Stephenson to Bevill State Community College." Hmmm...

http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/in...

http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/in...

-- Posted by NewsToMe on Wed, Sep 2, 2009, at 8:26 PM

Dr. Dobbins, the man who you are linking press releases for, is clearly in the wrong here for excluding TRCC. I'm sure you understand the nature of a press release - it's a one sided story designed to promote a college. Your simple investigation works makes you appear to be Dr. Dobbins himself, "newstome" Fortunately, Dr. Dobbins doesn't make the decisions for what Cape County needs in terms of community colleges.

-- Posted by Chief 'Broom on Wed, Sep 2, 2009, at 8:49 PM

I find it interesting that NewsToMe said that Dobbins had "foresight and integrity". Excuse me but where does trying to schnooker the Missouri General Assembly on funding for the River Campus fall under the category of "intergrity"? And I seem to recall comments in this and other forums about the need for upgrades in classrooms and programs at Screamo at the same time Dobby was building useless fountains on campus. Give me a break -- is that taking care of your university.

I keep hearing that Dobby's own Board of Regents may be looking at sending him packing down the river because of his lack of leadership and for his obvious disregard for working with others in the region. Dobby obviously can't play in the same sandbox with others because he has to be the bully and kick sand in people's faces.

What is Dobby afraid of? Is he afraid a Community College will tarnish his "wonderful" reputation? Will they take away students and therefore money from his pockets? Get real. All you have to do to see that community colleges and universities can play in the same sandbox is to look at the relationship between Missouri State and the community college in Springfield? Or look at the way big Mizzou can work with others? Instead of hurting a university, community colleges help the university and the town. Dobby is an arrogant man who thinks he can control the university and Cape County!

-- Posted by irishmolly on Thu, Sep 3, 2009, at 10:15 AM

Not to detract from the truth being spoken above, but I think it's important to note that the press release for Southeast provided earlier was written in 2003, yet it was updated Aug. 31, 2009, perhaps specifically to be linked after this article. Dobbins, going on a smear campaign against Stephenson is not going to resonate with the community. We need options and quite frankly, Dobbins' resume is a candle in the sun compared to Stephenson's when it comes to partnerships.

-- Posted by Chief 'Broom on Thu, Sep 3, 2009, at 1:37 PM


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