CAPE GIRARDEAU -- A Sikeston businessman was named the 2003 "Friend of the University" by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.
Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, presented the award Saturday to Donald C. Bedell, chairman of the board of Health Facilities Management Corporation, at the annual President's Council dinner at the Show Me Center.
The "Friend of the University" award, which recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University, is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.
When the Foundation Board established this award, it also established the criteria for the Friend of the University. The Friend of the University must be a person who has the respect of the community and the University, and whose actions have confirmed their interest and involvement with the University.
In fall 2001, Bedell made a seven-figure gift to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation to support the establishment of a premier performance hall at the River Campus. The hall, which is expected to be the "crown jewel" of the River Campus, will be named in Bedell's honor. His gift is the largest single cash gift in the 18-year history of the University Foundation, the largest given to the River Campus project, and the largest ever made for a new facility at the University.
"We are honored to name Don Bedell as this year's Friend of the University," said Kenneth W. Dobbins, Southeast president. "Mr. Bedell is a special friend of Southeast Missouri State University, and his generosity has served as a bridge to the success of our, River Campus campaign. In addition, he is a generous supporter of scholarships and our athletic programs at Southeast. We are extremely fortunate to have supporters with the level of commitment shown by Don Bedell. We deeply appreciate his continued dedication to Southeast Missouri State University."
The performance hall, a Regional Museum, and other facilities will be built on the Southeast River Campus, which will be the site of the University's School of Visual and Performing Arts. Dobbins said the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall will enable the city and University to develop a first-rate cultural arts program series including: national symphony orchestras, such as the St. Louis Symphony; professional jazz ensembles; touring companies of Broadway musicals and plays; off-Broadway shows; professional ballet and other dance companies; festivals of music, art, dance and theatre; and performing arts programs for minority youth.
Dobbins said the technical support and the quality of the facility will be unique in the region.
"Bedell Hall will be the only such professional venue in the outstate region between St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee," he said.
The River Campus is located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, between Morgan Oak Street and the new Highway 74-146 Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge currently under construction. The property includes 50,000 square feet of existing interior building space and 16.6 acres of real estate. The site was acquired by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, using funds donated by B. W. Harrison of Cape Girardeau and Salem, with the understanding that the property will be preserved and used for educational purposes.
Plans call for the renovation of the existing major buildings on the River Campus, while preserving their exterior appearance, and the creation of approximately 100,000 gross square feet of new space, including the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall.
Upon completion of the project, in addition to Bedell Hall and a Regional Museum, the site will include classrooms, faculty offices, lecture and recital halls, rehearsal rooms, music practice rooms, a recording studio, a music library and technology center, a small laboratory theatre, a 500-seat flexible theatre, storage areas, dance studios, specialized studios for various art areas, concession and dining areas, and other support facilities.
Bedell Performance Hall will be one of several facilities on the River Campus classified as "joint facilities" under an agreement between Southeast Missouri State University and the City of Cape Girardeau. Other joint facilities are a performance theatre with approximately 500 seats, the regional museum, and a public access scenic overlook of the Mississippi River. These joint facilities will be operated under the supervision of the River Campus Board of Managers appointed jointly by the City of Cape Girardeau and the University's Board of Regents.
The joint facilities and other University facilities on the site, subject to availability, will be available for community meetings, touring exhibits, service clubs, charitable activities and other public uses.
The River Campus is a cooperative project with the State of Missouri, the City of Cape Girardeau, private donors and the federal government. Total cost of the project is estimated at $35.6 million. The cooperative financing structure calls for $16.55 million from the State of Missouri, $8.9 million from the City of Cape Girardeau and $10.15 million from private donors through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.
Dobbins said it appears that the University will be in a position to break ground on the River Campus site early this summer so that the new entry to the property off the Fountain Street extension will be ready when the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge opens in late 2003. The River Campus is expected to open in late 2006 or early 2007.
From 1970 to 1975, Bedell was a co-founder and executive vice president of a nursing home management company that developed and managed six nursing homes with a total capacity of 498 beds. During this period, he also developed 10 long-term care facilities under contracts with other parties.
In 1975, Bedell founded, and until it was sold in 1981, was president of Health Projects, Inc., in Sikeston, Mo., a nursing home management firm which operated 13 nursing homes with a total capacity of 1,304 beds.
Bedell's founded his company, Health Facilities Management Corporation, in 1984. The company operates 33 nursing homes in Missouri, Arizona and Arkansas with a total capacity of 3,334 beds.
Since 1981, Bedell has been president and owner of various other business enterprises, including a management company for real estate operations, country western music management, recording contracts and publishing and restaurant management.