CAPE GIRARDEAU - Students attending the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center still don't know who will teach general education classes next fall at the Center.
The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents took no action on a proposed agreement with Three Rivers Community College which would authorized the resumption of a partnership between the two institutions for teaching courses at Sikeston as well as centers at Malden and Kennett.
SEMO announced Feb. 25 it was terminating its partnership with TRCC at the end of the current semester and that the University would offer upper and lower-division courses leading to a Bachelor of General Studies degrees at the three education centers beginning this summer.
According to the University's initial announcement, TRCC would continue offering technical courses leading to the Associate of Applied Science degree as well as customized training and workforce development programs.
TRCC officials protested the change in the structure.
On Monday, TRCC President John Cooper met with SEMO President Dr. Kenneth Dobbins and Coordinating Board for Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Gregory Fitch in Sikeston. The group met for about five hours to discuss the possibility of re-establishing the agreement between the two institutions and the conditions that would have to be met by each school.
SEMO Board President John Tlapek of Cape Girardeau called the agreement an excellent start but said the draft was too vague to guarantee the needs of the students, the region and the University would be met. The board took no formal action on the plan at Thursday's conference call meeting.
"We must first make certain we have a clear understanding of responsibilities so that future disagreements will not occur between the two institutions to the detriment of students," Tlapek said.
Among issues of concern cited by the University was that Southeast was responsible for all the operating costs of the centers - an annual expense of over $1.1 million - and was losing about $800,000 annually. The loss, the University stated, was because the majority of courses at the centers are taught by TRCC, which received the bulk of student fee revenue without having to bear the operating costs.
In the proposed agreement developed by Fitch and the presidents of SEMO and TRCC, Southeast would offer 40 percent of the freshman and sophomore courses at each of the centers and TRCC would offer the other 60 percent. In addition, TRCC would dedicate all funds received from a $5 per credit hour technology fee paid by its students at the centers to maintain the computer technology at the three centers.
Among other issues are long-rang planning of sequences of course, establishment of enrollment targets before classes are canceled and problems involving financial aid, TRCC textbook rental systems and billing problems.
Although the board did not adopt the proposal, University officials stated to demonstrate good faith as the talks continue it would invite TRCC to teach a limited number of courses for the summer terms at the three centers.