Vargas begins new era at Southeast

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Carlos Vargas-Aburto officially started as Southeast Missouri State University's president last week.

And, boy, did it start off with a bang.

Vargas began his tenure, as anyone would expect, by making the rounds of the campus and the city, meeting people and asking questions.

If the new president was hoping for a quiet and smooth first month in charge, he isn't getting it. In his first week came a surprising announcement that athletic director Mark Alnutt was leaving Southeast for a deputy athletics position at the University of Memphis.

Alnutt's announcement is no reason for panic. Changes are expected. People move on, and people are replaced. But it was a surprise to just about everyone in Cape Girardeau that the university now has a vacancy in a very important position.

Welcome to Cape Girardeau, Dr. Vargas. Life as a university president is certainly never boring. Nor is it routine.

Vargas, of course, replaces Kenneth Dobbins, who had a long and successful run at Southeast, including 16 years as the school's president.

Vargas, 66, was acting president of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. The new president was raised in Mexico City, where he received a bachelor's degree in physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He earned a doctorate in physics and aerospace science at the University of Michigan. Vargas appears to be a service-driven leader, who wants to carry out the wishes of the board of regents and the community rather than establish his own agenda.

"I'm not the person who likes to go someplace and change things," Vargas told Southeast Missourian reporter Katie Lamb. "I like to see how things operate. And I adapt to things. If they're working, I'm perfectly comfortable with that. If not, then, based on what I observe, then we talk about possible ways of changing.

"I am so impressed with the university, so I'm always worrying about making sure that I make the right decisions, that I live up to the expectations that the community has. I want to make sure that I do my best job in the leading the institution at this point and make sure we continue to excel."

We wish Vargas the very best going forward.

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