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Dispute divides Missouri colleges.

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (AP) -- A feud between Three Rivers Community College and Southeast Missouri State University over jointly run regional sites has resulted in a permanent divide, as the community college is opening six new educational centers of its own.

The two schools used to run three regional educational centers together, but SMSU said it lost about $1 million in the 2003-2004 fiscal year on the arrangement. A dispute began last year about costs and how many classes each school should oversee.

After rent issues couldn't be ironed out, SMSU evicted Three Rivers in February from the higher education centers in Malden, Kennett and Sikeston. The schools had shared teaching responsibilities.

"It was absolutely unethical and unprofessional the way they did this," Three Rivers president John E Cooper said, noting that Three Rivers previously had agreed to shoulder more of the costs at the centers.

"In the best interest of the communities and the students, we did what we had to do," said SMSU President Kenneth W. Dobbins.

Missouri higher education officials tried to mediate, but when that was unsuccessful, Three Rivers opted to open six new centers of its own. Earlier this year, the community college also filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against SMSU.

Three Rivers' centers in Portageville and Bernie are offering summer classes. The other four centers--in Sikeston, Malden, Campbell and Kennett --will be open for the fall.

Meanwhile, SMSU dropped tuition for first-year students and sophomores at its educational centers in Malden, Kennett and Sikeston from about $154 to $110 per credit hour.

Three Rivers responded by lowering its tuition to $89 per credit hour for students, or $59 per credit hour if they live in the four-county taxing district for the community college.

The original union was intended to allow students a chance to take lower-division courses at community-college prices, with the four-year school opportunities for students who were interested in upper-level or graduate work.
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Publication:Community College Week
Date:Jul 4, 2005
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