The great philosopher Plato once said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
I could not agree more. Sometimes, just the initial step of getting started is the motivation we need to begin the journey and set our sights on the finish line. And nearly all of you are now to that point. You’ve applied to attend Southeast, you’ve been accepted, you’ve made your college decision, you have a roommate and a place to live, you’ve attended FirstSTEP and you have a class schedule.
On Thursday, Aug. 16, I look forward to seeing many of you as our new students begin arriving and our returning students will be out in force to help move you in and welcome you to the Southeast experience.
On Friday, Aug. 17, I’ll connect with all our new students at our signature Welcome Convocation at 11 a.m. in the Show Me Center. Following, our new students will participate in Southeast 101 sessions, which again will be another opportunity to get information about life on campus before starting classes on Monday, Aug. 20. Don’t forget to stop by the Great Ice Cream Pig Out that evening where members of the Executive Staff and I will be dishing out ice cream and welcoming everyone back to Southeast!
A full day of activities is in store on Saturday, Aug. 18, which then brings us to the Welcome Back Picnic at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, in the Show Me Center and the start of classes at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 20. Visit for a Countdown to Convocation with links to all the week’s events, and I encourage you to download the Southeast app to see Southeast’s “Engage in 8!” activities, a jam-packed listing of events offered on campus during the first eight weeks of the semester.
I’m looking forward to the new academic year with great anticipation and optimism! While last year was a year of transition with budget and workforce reductions and academic restructurings, the result is we are a more nimble, innovative, progressive, stronger and well-focused university, and I’m glad each of you is here as we move forward.
We have a tremendous new leadership team in place with Student Government this year. These execs are following in the footsteps of a remarkable team led by May 2018 graduates Peyton Mogley and Dylan Kennedy over the past two years. I recently had a chance to meet with the 2018-2019 executive board members, and they have a great vision for the year. Your Student Government this year is led by Matt Rolwing, president; Eli Bohnert, vice president; Caleb Ellenburg, treasurer; Yvonne Pereira, secretary; Insley Smith, chief of staff; Justin Jacobs, Special Projects Committee chair; Karma Alvey, Student Issues Committee chair; Grace Grzywa, University Affairs chair; and Xander Goffinet, parliamentarian. Please get to know your student leaders and let them know what’s on your mind.
I would also like to highlight that this year we are implementing the Southeast SupportNET, an initiative that relies on a data-driven software technology tool to help you (our students) be successful and to assist the University as we progress toward two goals -- an 80 percent freshman to sophomore retention rate and a 60 percent graduation rate. I hope you will learn more about this initiative in the coming weeks and that this becomes a valuable resource for you, connecting you with support whenever you may need it. Also new this year is the Central Pedestrian Corridor/NPHC Plaza, which opens Aug. 16. It is a great outdoor activity space and proudly recognizes the history of National Panhellenic Council organizations on our campus. You also will find that Chick-fil-A received some updates in the University Center over the summer, and our new international village is expected to open in October. In addition, in late December, Crisp Hall will go offline for major renovations and is expected to reopen in fall 2019.
Let me close by reiterating that “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” As the new year begins, make it a point to attend class regularly beginning with the first day. Get to know your professors, ask questions, engage in classroom discussions, learn from your fellow students, study and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” You are now in the driver’s seat. Keep your eyes on the road, stay in your lane and good things will happen. Have a great year!
President Carlos Vargas