657 to Receive Degrees at Southeast Fall Commencement Dec. 15

Southeast Missouri State University will hold its fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 15 during which 657 students – 528 undergraduates, 122 master’s degree candidates and seven specialist candidates – will receive their degrees.

Southeast will hold two commencement ceremonies in the Show Me Center. Candidates in the College of Education, Health and Human Studies and the Harrison College of Business and Computing will participate in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Candidates in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and the Holland College of Arts and Media will take part in a 2 p.m. ceremony.


Zora Mulligan, Missouri commissioner of higher education, will deliver the 10 a.m. address. Jay B. Knudtson of Cape Girardeau, a member of the Southeast Board of Regents, executive vice president and bank board director of First Missouri State Bank and a member of the fall 2018 graduating class, will present the 2 p.m. address.

In total, 192 students will graduate with honors — 38 will graduate summa cum laude (3.9 to 4.0 cumulative grade point average); 58 will graduate magna cum laude (3.75 to 3.89 cumulative grade point average); 91 will graduate cum laude (3.5 to 3.74 cumulative grade point average); and five will graduate with honors in associate degrees. Students who have earned Latin Honors, Academic Distinction in the Department of the Major or completed the Jane Stephens Honors Program, will have that information displayed below their name on the scoreboard as they cross the stage during their commencement ceremony, as well as printed in the program.

Also recognized during the ceremony will be 11 students graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and 11 Honors Scholars.

Zora Mulligan

The morning commencement speaker, Mulligan, was appointed Commissioner of Higher Education by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in August 2016. As commissioner, she oversees the work of the Missouri Department of Higher Education to strengthen the state’s higher education system, expand college access for students and increase the percentage of Missourians who earn a degree or professional certificate.

Mulligan previously served as assistant commissioner, general counsel and legislative liaison for the Missouri Department of Higher Education from 2007-2010. During that time, she participated in the development of the state’s coordinated plan for higher education; assisted in establishing policies to implement landmark higher education legislation, including a new need-based financial aid program; and conducted a review of the state’s public college and university facilities to develop a process for prioritizing capital projects.

Mulligan served as the executive director of the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) from 2010 to 2014. MCCA represents Missouri’s 12 community colleges and provides professional development opportunities for community college employees at all levels and assists community college leaders in developing consensus on shared issues.

Most recently, Mulligan was the chief of staff for the University of Missouri System.

Mulligan holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and psychology from Drury College and a master’s degree in education and juris doctor from the University of Kansas.

Jay Knudtson

The afternoon commencement speaker, Knudtson was appointed to the Board of Regents in January 2013 by Missouri Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon to serve a six-year term. Knudtson served as president of the Board of Regents from March 2015 through December 2017.

Knudtson, former mayor of Cape Girardeau and a 2006 recipient of Southeast’s prestigious Vandiver Show Me State Award, is executive vice president and bank board director of First Missouri State Bank and a member of the executive team that launched the bank in 2002. He previously served for 13 years as senior vice president of Bank of America in Cape Girardeau. Knudtson was born and raised in Minnesota and has spent most of his professional career living and working in Cape Girardeau.

He has studied at the Graduate School of Banking in Boulder, Colorado; the Graduate School of Real Estate Finance in Dallas, Texas; the University of Minnesota; and Southeast Missouri State University.

He served as chairman of the board of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce in 2015 and was the recipient of the prestigious Rush H. Limbaugh award in that same year. He is past treasurer and executive board member of the Cape Girardeau Chamber.  He also is chairman of the I-66 Corridor Committee, past chairman of the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Board, past president of the Cape Girardeau Noon Lions Club and past member of the Easter Seals Board.  He served as chairman of the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet Board of Directors and on the Homeland Security Committee for the State of Missouri.

In 2014, Ingram’s Magazine identified Knudtson as one of “50 Missourians You Should Know,” and in 2015, he was honored with the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation “Impact Award.”


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