Carlos Vargas-Aburto, currently acting president of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, will become the 18th president of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau on July 1.
Vargas, who will succeed the retiring Kenneth Dobbins, was chosen following a wide-ranging search. One of the four finalists for the job was Benjamin Ola Akande, head of the business school at Webster University.
“Southeast Missouri State University is an outstanding university with a national reputation, and I am honored to have been selected as its next president,” Vargas said in a statement released by the university Wednesday.
Vargas said that when he visited the campus, “I was impressed with the institution’s long history of service to the region and its unique strengths. I know Southeast is deeply committed to being accessible and affordable, and continuing to offer accredited academic programs where graduates can meet the needs of employers.”
The president of SEMO’s board of regents, Jay B. Knudtson, said that the new president has made his mark as an academic leader and financial manager at Kutztown, where he has served first as provost, then as acting president since last July.
“For the past eight months,” Knudtson said, “he has begun to implement his strategic vision for Kutztown and his experience and his commitment to academic excellence make him the ideal choice to lead Southeast Missouri State University institution into the future.
“Having had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Vargas during the search process, and having spoken with him at length about his vision for our university, I have no doubt that he is the right choice to lead Southeast Missouri State University as we begin a new era in our history,”
Vargas began his career in higher education as a physicist and has worked at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Kent State University and Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He was selected out of a field of 46 applicants, which was narrowed first to nine, then four, before he became the unanimous choice of the regents.
Doyle. L. Privette, who led the search, said SEMO was looking for someone “who would honor the past, but will also move the university forward. We wanted someone who understood the mission of a regional comprehensive university, and what makes Southeast unique.
“We also wanted a candidate who could provide the leadership skills in helping the university community contribute to its success going forward,” Privett said. “We believe strongly we have found that unique individual in Dr. Vargas.”
Follow Dale Singer on Twitter: @dalesinger