Southeast Missouri State University
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Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552



Officials break ground on River Campus

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 27, 2003 - "High above the Mississippi, Ageless in majestic flow, Rise thy halls in native grandeur, Beacon light to all below . . ."

Lyrics from the Southeast Missouri State University alma mater took on new meaning today with a groundbreaking ceremony for the River Campus, slated to become the new home of the University's School of Visual and Performing Arts. The event took place on the grounds overlooking the Mississippi River.

Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said, "The University is extremely appreciative of the tremendous effort that Governor Bob Holden and the Missouri General Assembly have put forth to make this day possible. Thanks to their vision and their relentless commitment to this project, thousands of Missourians and visitors to our state will have the opportunity to experience unparalleled performances in music, theater and dance, and outstanding artistic endeavors."

The River Campus is a cooperative project with the state of Missouri, the city of Cape Girardeau, private donors and the federal government to be constructed on the 16.6-acre St. Vincent's College and Seminary property on the banks of the Mississippi River, adjacent to the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. Plans call for the campus to include a 1,000-seat state-of-the-art performance hall, a recital hall, a regional history and art museum, rehearsal rooms, theatres, dance and art studios, classrooms and related facilities.

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. Construction on the main facilities on the River Campus is expected to begin in the spring or summer of 2004. The entire River Campus project is expected to open in late 2006 or early 2007.

"The architects are proceeding with preparation of the final River Campus conceptual designs and construction documents for many infrastructure aspects of the project," Dobbins said. "We expect that the total planning process will take about a year. Our private fund-raising is within sight of our goal. With the announcement earlier this year of additional federal monies for the project and with today's groundbreaking ceremony, the River Campus is well on its way to becoming a reality."


In December, the University's Board of Regents approved a revised conceptual design for the River Campus and a funding structure for the project. The revised conceptual plans by Jacobs Facilities, Inc., followed preliminary conceptual designs developed by then Sverdrup/CRSS, now Jacobs Facilities, Inc., which were approved by the Board three years ago.

Also in December, the Board approved a $35.6 million funding structure for the River Campus that satisfies a city ordinance requiring that the University and the state have committed sufficient funds to complete the acquisition, construction, furnishing and equipping of the joint facilities. Under the plan, the city's commitment will be funded by the University's issuing of Series A fixed rate 20-year term bonds, which will be repaid by city hotel-motel restaurant tax revenue. The balance of the construction costs will be funded by a University issue of Series B variable rate 30-year term bonds, which will be backed by state appropriations, the Southeast Missouri University Foundation and the Board of Regents.

In early March, the University's Board of Regents authorized the start of a $650,000 to $700,000 design phase for the River Campus project. With this approval, work began on the preparation of schematic design documents for the River Campus, construction documents for the Fountain Street extension to Highway 74 and related storm water detention facilities on the River Campus property, and archaeological and environmental services required for the project.

Shortly thereafter, the Cape Girardeau City Council adopted an ordinance approving an agreement with the University for the construction of Fountain Street from Missouri Highway 74 to Morgan Oak Street.

University officials said the Fountain Street and water detention designs must be completed in order to implement a $1.5 million federal earmark to the city for infrastructure work related to the River Campus project. The design and construction work on the Fountain Street extension must be done simultaneously with the preparation of the final schematic design for the River Campus in order to have the Fountain Street project completed prior to the opening of the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in late 2003.

That schematic design is also necessary in order to move forward with the design of the proposed Regional Museum, using a $2.6 million federal earmark received for the museum portion of the River Campus project.

The design and construction of the Fountain Street extension and the schematic design for the River Campus are the most recent steps in a city-University-state partnership that has brought together a "web of resources" to be used for construction and equipment for the River Campus project.

In mid-February, U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced that a total of $1.7 million in the FY2003 federal budget had been earmarked for Southeast Missouri State University and the city of Cape Girardeau, to be used to enhance the River Campus facilities.

Under the earmarks announced Feb. 13 and 14, the City of Cape Girardeau is receiving $500,000, which will be used for downtown revitalization and infrastructure improvements on and around the River Campus. Another earmark of $1.2 million for the University will be used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the River Campus facilities.

"I would like to express the University's sincere gratitude to Senator Bond and Representative Emerson for their tremendous commitment to this project and for convincing their colleagues in Washington to support this important initiative," Dobbins said. "This is not the first time our legislators in Washington have rallied support for this project. Time and again they have done what is necessary to bring federal dollars back to Missouri and to put these dollars to work in enhancing educational and cultural opportunities for our students and residents throughout the Southeast Missouri region. We owe the team of Senator Bond and Representative Emerson a huge debt of gratitude for their efforts."

Officials with the city of Cape Girardeau, who are working cooperatively with the University in the development of the River Campus as part of downtown revitalization, applauded the University's efforts for working with our Washington legislators in securing additional funding for the project.

"President Dobbins and the University have worked diligently to bring state and federal funding to our community in a way that benefits everyone," said Jay Knudtson, mayor of Cape Girardeau. "The University and President Dobbins have demonstrated a relentless pursuit of funding in ways that benefit both the University and the city of Cape Girardeau, and this translates into a winning combination for everyone."

Dr. Dale Nitzschke, former president of Southeast Missouri State University, who now serves as a federal legislative consultant for the institution, has worked closely with the Missouri Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C., to help in securing federal dollars for the River Campus.

"The February announcement is another example of the effectiveness of Dale Nitzschke's efforts on behalf of the University, the city of Cape Girardeau and the River Campus," Dobbins said.

He added that, in total, some $7.5 million in federal monies have now been allocated for various enhancements of the River Campus project. These monies, he explained, are above and beyond the $35.6 million budgeted cost of the project and cannot be spent on actual construction. These federal funds are being used to make improvements and further enhancements at the River Campus and the surrounding area that otherwise would not be possible.

Additional Federal Funding for the Project

In addition to the $1.7 million in federal earmarks announced recently, the River Campus project also is benefiting from several other federal appropriations:

  • In November 2001, Sen. Bond announced that the city of Cape Girardeau was awarded $1.5 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to build an underground water retention basin for the River Campus and to make waste water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer improvements in connection with the Fountain Street extension project from Route 74. These improvements on the western boundary of the River Campus will benefit not only the River Campus but also the entire River Campus area, said Bill Vaughn of Development Services with the city of Cape Girardeau's Planning Division. The Fountain Street extension is expected to form the western wall of the underground water retention basin on the western boundary of the River Campus. Ultimately, the Fountain Street extension will become the "front door" for the River Campus and the downtown area as vehicles enter Missouri from the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge on Route 74. Vaughn said the grant is "very much appreciated. It will be utilized." The work is expected to be completed in November.
  • In December 2001, Rep. Emerson announced that the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill contained a $1.75 million award for the River Campus to be used for planning and equipment enhancements in conjunction with the River Campus project.
  • These funds are being used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the Department of Theatre and Dance, including a computerized performing arts classroom, a theatre design classroom with dedicated computers using CAD software and related technology, and a sound system and video/sound recording equipment for a lab theatre. These monies also are paving the way for the Department of Music to purchase computerized sound and video recording and playback equipment; a high-technology workstation for a music writing center; and musical instruments, including ethnic and multi-cultural instruments useful for classroom and community outreach activities. These dollars also will help support keyboard technology enhanced studios and a music lab for composing and analyzing electronic music.

    Thanks to these funds, the Department of Art is purchasing state-of-the art equipment and software for their Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. These purchases include ceramics kilns; computer-driven looms; graphic design 3-D imaging and animation computers and software licenses; computer editing equipment; digital video and cameras; scanners; and CD burners - all representing new technology for computer-based art classes. Because of these federal monies, visual art students will see increased workstations for graphic design, including a new genre computer lab; computer-driven laser mold-making equipment and other tools for materials construction and assembly in a sculpture studio; and digital glaze and calculation and image digitizing equipment for a ceramics studio.

    The performance spaces shared by the departments of theatre, dance and music also will benefit from purchases of new sound and recording systems, professional and portable state-of-the-art theatre lighting systems, a monitor system, a Harlequin-type portable spring dance floor, and an orchestral/band shell.

  • In Spring 2001, Southeast was awarded nearly $260,000 in federal money through the Missouri Department of Transportation for development of pedestrian trails and a scenic Mississippi River overlook on the lower terrace. The dollars earmarked for the River Campus Terrace project will allow for preliminary site work and continuation of the city's popular hiking/biking trail on the property. In addition, plans call for the trail to link up to a loop that would follow Spanish Street north in the downtown area, circle around on the river side of the floodwall continuing south, and then cross Aquamsi onto the River Campus, said Al Stoverink, director of Facilities Management at Southeast.
  • "This component of the River Campus is going to be a great addition," Dobbins said, adding that the University is appreciative of Scott Meyer, District 10 Engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, for his work in facilitating funding for the terrace project.

    This project will include the construction of a pavilion overlooking the River, informational signs about the plant life and history of the site, benches and a small parking area. The Terrace project is expected to begin late this summer.

  • In June 2001, U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced that a $2.6 million federal earmark had been secured for architectural and consulting services in planning for the development of a Regional Museum at the River Campus. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the federal agency administering the three-year award. The funds are being used for architectural and consulting services for the new Regional Museum.
  • This earmark has allowed Jacobs Facilities, architects for the River Campus project, to hire a subcontractor, Lord Cultural Resources, to provide consulting services for the museum. Representatives of Lord Cultural Resources have completed a master plan for the museum; a market study of visitors and of museums at comparable institutions; and a general exhibition or interpretive plan. The consultants also are assisting with space requirements, and a designer ultimately will provide direction for the purchase of cases, fixtures, materials and other necessary equipment.

    "It's just been terrific," said Dr. Stanley Grand, director of the University Museum, explaining that the IMLS grant planted the seed for enormous growth at the museum.

    Grand said the earmarked monies are providing $700,000 in movable fixtures, furniture and equipment that will be included in the museum's permanent installations. The museum also will create a mobile museum to take exhibitions on the road to outlying areas in the region.

    These funds also have increased the professionalism of the museum and have allowed the museum to hire a registrar, a curator of collections and a museum education curator, all of whom are providing additional services, which otherwise would not exist.

    "Without these funds, we would end up with a much less finished product," Grand said. "We now have a professional staff and are taking better care of the museum's artifacts which are entrusted to our care," he said. "It's really amazing how far we have come in the last couple of years. We really appreciate the support we have received from Senator Bond, Congresswoman Emerson and Dale Nitzschke."

    Because of these funds and other federal monies earmarked for the River Campus project, Grand said, "You're going to get a much bigger and better River Campus."

State Boosts to the River Campus

In addition to the federal flow-through monies from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the University also has partnered with the Missouri Development Finance Board and the Missouri Division of Tourism in an effort to boost the River Campus project.

  • In 1999, the University received approval from the Missouri Development Finance Board to obtain $5 million in state tax credits for corporations and individuals making significant contributions to the River Campus. The University's participation in the program is allowing major contributors to the River Campus to receive over $1 million annually in Missouri tax credits. The program began in January 2000 and continues through 2003.
  • "The Board continues to be very proud of this project," said Bob Miserez, executive director of the Missouri Development Finance Board. "We are still very much in support of it. The University has done an excellent job in continuing to move this project forward and to identify other monies available. We continue to see this as a very positive project for the Cape Girardeau area."

    This year, the Board will make available over $1 million in tax credits in connection with the River Campus project, Dobbins said. The credits are available through Dec. 1 of this year, Miserez said.

  • The University also received approval in early March from the Missouri Division of Tourism Commission for affiliation status under which the University would operate an affiliated Missouri Welcome Center at the River Campus.
  • Southeast is working in cooperation with the city of Cape Girardeau, the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) in the development of the Center.

    "The Commission is excited about this new venture," said Bob Smith, deputy director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. "We are always looking for better ways to promote ourselves and better serve the visiting public in this great state."

    The 5,000-square-foot Welcome Center will be located at the entrance to the River Campus, situated along the western edge of the River Campus property off the Fountain Street extension that will connect Route 74 and Morgan Oak Street. Ultimately, the Fountain Street extension will become the "front door" for the River Campus and the downtown area as vehicles enter Missouri from the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge on Route 74.

    "The University is to be applauded for its effort with this initiative," said John Mehner, president of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce. "The Welcome Center is going to be a wonderful community asset that will benefit the entire city and region. The University really carried the ball with this project for the good of all Cape Girardeau residents and the citizens of this area."

    The University is now developing final plans and proceeding with working with the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, the CVB and the Cape Girardeau City Council in seeking federal flow-through monies through the Missouri Department of Transportation to cover construction costs associated with the facility.

    Dobbins says the affiliated welcome center concept is new in Missouri and that Southeast is the first to be awarded this status.

    "The (Missouri Division of Tourism) Commission is introducing this program to expand our ability to serve the visiting public to Missouri and to bring on like-partners to better serve that need," Smith said. "This is brand new territory for us," he said. "Missouri may be the first state to have such a program in place."

    The 10-member Missouri Division of Tourism Commission approved the concept of launching affiliated Welcome Centers in Missouri some time ago. Smith said that staff members with the Missouri Division of Tourism recommended that the application for a Welcome Center at the River Campus be approved when it was received in Jefferson City, Mo. Smith made the presentation on behalf of the University, the city of Cape Girardeau, the Chamber of Commerce and the CVB at a meeting of the Commission.

    Smith said the affiliated Welcome Center concept "adds that much more to our arsenal of appeal to the traveling public and will be of tremendous benefit to all concerned." Affiliated Welcome Centers are established in partnership with chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, and higher education institutions that offer a marketing, tourism or hospitality curriculum, Smith said.

    Dobbins says the Missouri Welcome Center at the River Campus will provide internship opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in marketing, hospitality and related fields. The Missouri Welcome Center at the River Campus will be staffed by the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitor's Bureau. The center will be a resource for information about attractions in Cape Girardeau and will provide maps, directions and brochures about regional attractions, events and accommodations. The center also will provide friendly advice about the best places to visit in the region.

    More than a quarter of a century has passed since the state opened a new Missouri Welcome Center. Currently, there are only six such facilities in the state in Hannibal, St. Louis, New Madrid, Rockport, Kansas City and Joplin.

Dobbins says the support the River Campus project has received from both its federal and state partners has been tremendous.

"It really is a wonderful example of partnering and sharing of resources," he said.

Stoverink agreed, adding that in some 25 years work in city management and at the University, he has never before experienced partnerships of this degree.

"I don't think I've worked on a project with so many different agencies working on funding for a project. It truly is extraordinary," he said. "Everybody's been adaptable and is working together toward a common goal."

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.

The River Campus project is expected to boost the regional economy, both during the construction and operational phases. A recent economic impact study estimates that during the construction phase, the project will provide 263 jobs for two years, 132 jobs in the third year, $23.1 million in direct and indirect personal income, almost $100,000 in local retail sales tax and almost $300,000 in state tax revenue. After three years into the operational phase, the River Campus is expected to increase the University's enrollment by more than 500 students and provide about 135 new jobs in the community and more than $5 million annually in additional personal income in the region.


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