Southeast President Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins and Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri Army National Guard, signed an agreement on Aug. 14 to launch the program at Southeast.
Show Me Gold will allow Southeast students to graduate with a degree in their selected field as well as earn an officer position in the Missouri Army National Guard.
Students who sign a contract with the Missouri Army National Guard and take advantage of the Show Me Gold program will be qualified as a captain by their junior year at Southeast. Students will graduate as second lieutenants.
Dobbins said Southeast was the first university in the state to be approached by the Missouri Army National Guard about the Officer Leadership Program.
"That's really very, very good for us," Dobbins said. "It provides the leadership that you need, leadership courses and development that you need to be an officer and at the same time the individuals in Show Me Gold will get their degree. So they, in fact, will then fill their captain rank."
Staff Sgt. Steven Bell expects the decline in the number of officers in the Missouri Army National Guard to reverse after the program is implemented.
"This was our way to fill our officer ranks," Bell said. "We still have to fill our ranks no matter what. Our mission is still there, no matter how it dropped in the active component. We still have a mission of what we need, so this is going to help secure our future with leaderships."
The leadership courses offered through Show Me Gold will be available to any Southeast student, whether or not they sign a contract with the Missouri Army National Guard.
Dobbins and Bell expect full classes of 20 to 25 students when the program begins next fall. Once the program is fully implemented, they expect between 100 and 125 students per year.
Students and soldiers who may consider attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., due to the federal ROTC program it offers, will have the option to attend Southeast and participate in the Show Me Gold program, Bell said.
"That's going to just bring them all right here to this school," Bell said.
The Missouri Army National Guard sponsors the Southeast football team, and recruiters already are on campus spreading the word of Show Me Gold.
"We're going to have all these individuals that are in the Missouri National Guard talking about this Missouri state university," Dobbins said.
The partnership between Southeast and the Missouri Army National Guard will work in favor of both parties, said Dobbins. The program will come at no cost to the university, Southeast will gain more prospective students and the Missouri Army National Guard will gain officers.
"That's a win for students that want to be citizen soldiers and also for the Missouri National Guard," Dobbins said. "I am, and I think that the Board [of Regents] is very concerned about making sure that we provide a source for commissioned officers in the Missouri National Guard. Because it's not only for our country, it's for the state of Missouri."
The Missouri National Guard and Military Appreciation Redhawk football game will take place during Family Weekend at 6 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Houck Stadium.
During the game, Southeast will pay special tribute to those soldiers protecting the United States at home and overseas. The Redhawks will wear special-edition tribute uniforms, and fans in attendance will receive a giveaway, courtesy of the Missouri Army National Guard.