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Stephen F. Austin State University

News

SFA regents approve budgets, new doctoral degree

Although Stephen F. Austin State University leaders will not be sure of the amount of state funding the university will receive until a budget is approved by the Texas Legislature, regents approved increases in fees to prepare for a predicted shortfall. A 4.95 percent tuition and fee increase was approved for the 2011-2012 academic year, along with an increase in room and board rates of approximately 3 percent.

The tuition and fee increase will amount to an additional $11.55 per credit hour. A student taking 15 hours will pay approximately $173 more as a result of the increase. This amount includes a $4.55 increase per credit hour in designated tuition, a $2 per credit hour increase in the technology fee, and an academic advising fee of $5 per semester credit hour.

"We do not take any increase in tuition or fees lightly, and we have made every possible effort to cut corners in areas across campus, so that when we are forced to increase rates, we can make the increases as small as possible," said Dr. Baker Pattillo, SFA president. "A $22 million budget shortfall is being predicted for the next two years, and we must be prepared for that possibility."

Convenience fees for credit-card payments through the SFA website were approved by the regents, along with increases in late registration fees, and course and lab fees.

Regents approved a change in the installment payment plan for tuition and fees so that students may make three payments of approximately one-third each throughout the academic term.

A summer 2011 budget of approximately $4.5 million was approved that allows SFA to comply with requests made recently by the Texas Legislature that state agencies return 5 percent, and then an additional 2.5 percent, of state-appropriated funds.

"Part of the challenge was trying to economize during the middle of an academic year," said Dr. Richard Berry, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "The goal was to reduce the summer 2011 budget by $1.1 million with as little impact to the students as possible."

Regents approved a five-year Quality Enhancement Plan budget recommended by the on-site team of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The team visited the campus as part of the university's reaffirmation of accreditation process.

An existing doctoral program in the James I. Perkins College of Education leads to a Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership. A new program was approved by regents that will allow students to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational leadership.

"The proposed Ph.D. will include four courses that are research based and prepare the candidates to serve as faculty in institutions of higher education or as specialists in agencies engaged in research and policy," Berry said.

Minimum student credit hours for the Ph.D. will be 69 hours, while the Ed.D. requires a minimum of 66 credit hours.

With the addition of the Ph.D. in educational leadership, SFA now offers a total of four doctoral degrees. Other doctorates are in forestry and in school and behavioral psychology.

The Regents selected the firm Perkins + Will to update the campus master plan. Perkins + Will, one of three firms that made presentations to the Regents on Monday, recently completed a $7.35 million renovation to SFA's historic Chemistry Building.

"We have a very good relationship with Perkins + Will, and they are very familiar with our campus," said Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration.

"They did a good job with our chemistry building, which involved a very quick implementation. They also have a very forward thinking, visionary approach."

Regents approved a request by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to purchase an X-ray diffraction system for $134,426. The equipment is being purchased with research development funds and departmental funds from the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

Regents also approved:

• List of small-size classes
• Changes in the graduate and undergraduate curriculum
• Additional 2011 grant awards totaling $1.3 million
• Policy revisions.