Southeast Missouri State University celebrates 150 years

2020 Academic Hall Aerial
2020 Academic Hall Aerial (Source: Southeast Missouri State University)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – In March, Southeast Missouri State University begins a year-long sesquicentennial celebration of its 150-year history of educating students and helping launch their careers.

March 22, 2023, marks 150 years since Missouri Gov. Silas Woods officially signed the bill to establish the Third District Normal School in southeast Missouri.

The Third District Normal School opened its doors to 57 students in 1873. Southeast has since evolved into a comprehensive, master’s-level regional public institution with 10,000 students and nationally and internationally recognized academic programs. More than 90,000 students have transitioned into alumni.

“Just as we did in 1873, SEMO helps students transform their lives, and their education often changes the trajectory of their entire family. In addition to the impacts our graduates have on their communities, the University has an economic impact of nearly a billion dollars annually in Missouri,” said Southeast President Dr. Carlos Vargas. “ Southeast has always sought to be a partner for our state and to provide a high-quality education without a high cost to determined students who are on the same mission we are—to significantly contribute to the development of the region and beyond.”

A birthday party will kick off the year-long sesquicentennial events on March 22 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

A brief ceremony followed by a street fair will honor the institution’s birthday.

The event along Normal Avenue between Academic Hall and Kent Library will include birthday cake, music, historic displays and videos.

More than 80 booths of student organizations and academic departments will provide games, limited giveaways and hands-on learning activities.

Many events are scheduled throughout the sesquicentennial with the theme “Making History” to honor the university’s achievements and mark other milestone anniversaries of academic programs and facilities.

The sesquicentennial celebrations will culminate on April 8, 204, with a solar eclipse where Cape Girardeau is in the center of totality. The sesquicentennial website at will share details about upcoming events, historical moments throughout Southeast’s timeline, and thoughts and memories shared by students and alumni.

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