SFA regents advance plans for conservation education facility
July 17, 2012 - Office of Public Affairs
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - An architect and construction manager at risk for a planned conservation education facility located at Stephen F. Austin State University's Pineywoods Native Plant Center were selected Tuesday by the Board of Regents.
The board selected Sutton Mitchell Beebe & Babin Architects to design the facility and J.E. Kingham Construction Company to manage the project, which is being funded entirely through private donations totaling approximately $1 million. The facility will be constructed at 2900 Raguet St.
In a separate action, the board approved naming the planned facility in honor of Tyler philanthropist Ina Brundrett, a member of both the SFA Gardens and Native Plant Center boards of advisers. The Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building will be used to develop and present environmental education programs to schoolchildren and visitors from throughout East Texas, furthering the mission of the PNPC to educate the public about growing and conserving native plants.
According to Dr. David Creech, professor emeritus of agriculture and associate director of the SFA Gardens, the planned facility will include classroom, office and storage space, as well as much-needed restrooms.
"We have about 12,000 students participate in our environmental education programs each year, and this new facility will help us connect more visitors to the natural world, even in undesirable weather," he said.
"We are also very excited that the facility will have an energy-efficient design that will meld into the existing forest and create a perfect setting for a conservation education center."
At their quarterly meeting Tuesday, the regents also approved an institutional budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13 totaling approximately $227.9 million, a 4.5-percent increase over last year. The budget includes faculty promotions, staff reclassifications and a 3-percent merit pool for faculty and staff pay increases. The adjustment marks the first broad pay increase for faculty and staff members since Fiscal Year 2010.
"We have all gone through some challenging financial times recently, but we are very pleased to be presenting a budget for the coming year that includes very strong human resources and personnel support," said Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration.
A capital infrastructure plan totaling $2.6 million also was approved for the coming fiscal year. The plan addresses capital renewal, deferred maintenance and renovation projects, including renovations to the east tower of Steen Hall, equipment replacement at the Student Recreation Center, repairs to the exterior of Human Sciences South, replacement of SFA passenger vans, and an upgrade to the heating, ventilation and cooling systems in Steen Library.
During the meeting Tuesday, the board also approved:
- Relocating the biotechnology program to the Department of Biology;
- Increasing the budget for a planned renovation of the Twilight Ballroom from $300,000 to $450,000;
- Renewing an investment management contract with Merrill Lynch for two years;
- Adjusting costs for dual-credit enrollment; and
- Ratifying additional grant awards allocable to Fiscal Year 2012 totaling more than $601,000.