It is hard to believe another fall semester at SFA is already drawing to a close, and the holiday season is upon us. I would like to share with you some highlights from the fall and alert you to some important milestones we expect to reach next year.
First, SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture has a new leader at the helm, although he is a familiar face to many alumni. Dr. Hans Williams officially assumed the duties of dean of the college Sept. 1. He has filled a variety of roles since joining our faculty in 1993, including interim dean and associate dean of the college as well as associate professor and professor of forestry. During the 2010-11 academic year, Dr. Williams served as Regents Professor, the highest honor SFA bestows on faculty members. Dr. Williams has a long-held passion for challenging and inspiring his students and preparing them for successful careers. I am excited to see that commitment expand to include all students in the college as he embraces his new leadership role.
It is always a thrill to watch the Lumberjack Marching Band perform at our football games, both in Homer Bryce Stadium and on the road. But there was a special performance during the Sept. 16 home game against University of the Incarnate Word that we won’t soon forget. Prior to kickoff, alumni who were attending the Lumberjack Marching Band and Twirl-O-Jacks reunion performed for the crowd, and one of those taking part was 87-year-old Mary Jo Goodwin Morris of New Braunfels. Janice and I enjoyed visiting with the former Twirl-O-Jack during the game as she shared memories of her time at SFA and the bonds she formed with her classmates and fellow twirlers. This year, about 350 SFA students are making their own special memories as members of the current Lumberjack Marching Band. The Boldest Sound from the Oldest Town will once again be on international display in March when the band performs in the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. As they did in the 2013 London New Year’s Day Parade and the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, I know the band will represent our university with the utmost Lumberjack spirit, pride and tradition.
We have much to look forward to on campus as well in 2018, including the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building in July and the university’s 95th anniversary celebration in September. I hope many of our alumni and friends will take part in these events, although you never need to wait for a special occasion to visit your alma mater. We are happy to welcome you to campus anytime.
Even as we look ahead to future celebrations, we understand many in our alumni family are still struggling in the aftermath of devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey during the summer. The compassionate response by our Lumberjack family to aid in the recovery efforts has been inspiring. From on-campus blood drives, to donations of band equipment and other educational materials for impacted students, to SFA Athletics’ “Buckets for Building” campaign and other relief projects organized by student groups across campus, Lumberjacks came out in force to help Texans in need. And we will continue to offer support as the needs of those impacted by that horrific storm evolve.
Thank you for supporting these initiatives and for all you have done and continue to do to benefit SFA’s students and programs. I wish you and everyone connected with our alma mater many blessings this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
Axe ’em, Jacks!
Baker Pattillo 1965 and 1966
President, Stephen F. Austin State University