- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (AP) - The only two colleges in southeast Missouri say they’re strengthening their working relationship to provide better educational opportunities for residents in the area.

The presidents of Three Rivers College and Southeast Missouri State University recently met to share their plans for the future, the Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1w9nrc6 ). They say that next year, Southeast will return to the Three Rivers’ main campus in Poplar Bluff with a new office.

“Right now, you can pursue baccalaureate degrees, and in fact, a couple of masters degrees, without ever leaving Poplar Bluff. And for quite a while now, Southeast has not had a presence there,” said Dr. Wes Payne, the new Three Rivers president.

The two school leaders estimate that it’s been about four years since Southeast has been on the Poplar Bluff campus and more than a decade since the schools have had a good working relationship.

Dr. Ken Dobbins, president of Southeast, said the college is looking forward to moving back to the Three Rivers school location. He said that this time around, the partnership will provide more distance-learning programs mixed with face-to-face communications between professors and students.

Payne credits the Southeast president with taking the first step in repairing the schools’ relationship. Payne said the schools are also looking for more ways to collaborate to improve education in Missouri.

Both men agreed that trust is important as the schools move forward in working together.

“I think we all have to make sure that we understand there’s a role for all of us,” Dobbins said. “It’s not just Three Rivers. It’s not just Southeast. There’s a role for all of us to form that network of higher education.”

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Information from: Daily American Republic, http://www.darnews.com

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