There may never have been a more exciting time than now to be a Lumberjack. For starters, the past year was one of the most successful in the history of SFA athletics. Our student-athletes won a total of nine regular-season Southland Conference titles during 2014-15, earning the coveted SLC Commissioner’s Cup for the third time. That is the most conference titles in a single season in SLC history and the second highest in the nation among all Division I conferences (behind Harvard’s 11 and tied with the University of Texas). SFA also made four NCAA postseason appearances, along with seven All-Americans, 24 major conference award winners, a national runner-up and SFA’s first-ever Division I national champion – pole vaulter Demi Payne, whom you will read more about in this issue of Sawdust.
Many of our alumni and friends were on hand to witness this championship year in the making, and I hope you will continue to be a part of SFA’s winning athletic tradition. Two of your first opportunities to cheer on the ’Jacks this fall will be the annual Battle of the Piney Woods against Sam Houston State University Oct. 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston and the SFA Homecoming game against University of the Incarnate Word Oct. 31 at Homer Bryce Stadium. I hope to see many of you there.
The SFA family also is celebrating the upcoming construction of a long-awaited multi-million-dollar Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building. The Texas Legislature recently authorized funding for the building, which will allow for the expansion of STEM research and outreach programs and further cement SFA’s place as a leader in a nationwide initiative to prepare more college graduates for STEM careers. While there is much work to be done before the new building is open to students and faculty, we are already looking forward to the day classrooms and laboratories of this much-anticipated facility will be filled with Lumberjacks.
In May, the university awarded degrees to the largest graduating class in its history with 1,302 students receiving diplomas and joining the ranks of proud SFA alumni. As with all our graduates, I hope they maintain a close connection to their alma mater as they pursue their future goals and dreams.
I also am pleased to share with you that the Board of Regents recently approved a new strategic plan, affirming a yearlong process by which a shared picture of SFA’s future was developed collaboratively with the input of thousands of university and community stakeholders, including alumni. The two overarching goals of the plan, known as SFA✯Envisioned, are transformative experiences for SFA students and meaningful and sustained enrollment growth. Supporting goals are: attract and support high-quality faculty and staff; academic and co-curricular innovation; redefine university culture; and increase connections. With the expertise we have on our campus, combined with good advice from others, I am confident we will be able to meet the challenges of preparing SFA for the future and achieving the vision to which we all aspire.
As you can see within these pages of Sawdust, there is much to celebrate and take pride in at your university. Thank you for your continued loyalty and support of SFA and its students, faculty, staff and programs. We hope to see you on campus soon.
Axe ’em, Jacks!
Baker Pattillo 1965 and 1966
President, Stephen F. Austin State University