Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 9, 2003 – A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for May 27 for the River Campus, which will house Southeast Missouri State University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, and will add an unprecedented cultural and artistic dimension to the University and the region.

The River Campus is located on the site of the former St. Vincent’s College and Seminary adjacent to the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. The $35.6 million project will blend the historic 19th Century buildings with new construction. The campus will house music, art, theatre and dance and will feature a state-of-the-art performance hall with quality seating, equipment and acoustics similar to the Fox Theatre in St. Louis; a regional history and art museum; rehearsal rooms; theatres; dance and art studios; classrooms and related facilities; along with a Missouri Affiliated Welcome Center.

Elected officials expected to be on hand for the 3 p.m. ceremony, along with members of the Southeast Board of Regents, include U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond; U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson; Missouri Gov. Bob Holden; Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell; State Sen. Peter Kinder; State Rep. Jason Crowell; other area members of the General Assembly; and Jay Knudtson, mayor of Cape Girardeau.

The ceremony is open to the public.

The project is expected to get under way late this summer with preliminary site work, including environmental and program reviews required by state and federal agencies. Also late this summer, work is expected to begin on the Fountain Street extension from Route 74 and on the River Campus Terrace project, which includes the construction of pedestrian trails, a pavilion overlooking the river, informational signs about the plant life and history of the site, a recognition feature for businesses and individuals who contribute to the Emerson Bridge lighting project, benches and a small parking area. New construction is expected to begin in the spring or summer of 2005. The River Campus project is expected to open in late 2006 or early 2007.

The project is being financed through a cooperative structure with $16.55 million from the state of Missouri, $8.9 million from the city of Cape Girardeau and $10.5 million from private donors through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. The project also has received extraordinary support at the state and federal level -- $7.5 million in federal earmarks and appropriations and $5 million in state tax credits.

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents announced the purchase of the buildings and grounds of St. Vincent’s College and Seminary on May 27, 1998. The site is situated beautifully overlooking the Mississippi River. The Southeast Missouri University Foundation purchased the 16.6 acre property from the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), using a contribution for that purpose from B.W. Harrison of Cape Girardeau. St. Vincent’s College and Seminary has a long history with Cape Girardeau and the region, and was responsible for educating thousands of students, especially priests, from its inception in 1838.

Harrison has strong ties to both the University and to the St. Vincent’s property. He currently resides just north of the St. Vincent’s College property at 340 S. Lorimier, in an historic home that his wife’s father completed in 1906. His wife, the late Hazel Huhn Evans Harrison, graduated from Southeast in 1926 and was the University’s second Sagamore Queen. Both Mrs. Harrison and her mother were members of the Catholic Church and were visited in the family home on many occasions by staff from the Seminary.

Mr. Harrison’s gift to the Foundation was made with the understanding that the University would maintain the historical nature of the structures and the educational mission of the facility. Plans call for renovating 45,576 existing square feet and retaining the historical integrity of the buildings, while adding more than 100,000 gross square feet in new construction.

“There has been an educational mission at this site for more than 150 years,” said Donald L. Dickerson, president of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents. “Southeast plans to continue that rich tradition and to provide educational opportunities at the location for at least another 150 years. We believe the River Campus will become a place where aspiring artists, dancers, musicians and actors will pursue their dreams. We believe the arts will thrive in this beautiful setting.”


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