A new Division of Communication and Contemporary Culture being established at Stephen F. Austin State University will house two new academic programs within the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, as well as a future research center.

The new division, which was approved by SFA's Board of Regents at a meeting Tuesday, will incorporate programs in both Communication Studies and Global Media and Contemporary Culture, according to Dr. Richard Berry, SFA provost and vice president for academic affairs. The new division will place the university on the cutting edge of developments in these disciplines, while strengthening degree offerings and opportunities for research and interdisciplinary work in these fields.

"This is a great leap of progress for SFA," Dr. Berry said. "The changes will have no adverse impact on students, either at the undergraduate or graduate level; indeed; the changes will only expand students' opportunities and deepen the programs in which they are enrolled."

The university's philosophy program, currently part of the Department of English and Philosophy, also will be housed within the new division. At their meeting Tuesday, regents approved a new name for the department, which will be called the Department of English beginning Sept. 1, 2009, when the organizational changes go into effect.

Dr. Brian Murphy, dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, said the planned reorganization is the result of a yearlong process that included input from faculty, as well as external consultants.

"We are carving out an identity for innovative programs that address national needs and a cutting-edge curriculum that prepares students for the contemporary marketplace," the dean said. "Our goal is to establish a program of national reputation."

Regents also approved the demolition of the building on the future site of the new $13 million Dewitt School of Nursing. The university awarded the contract for demolition to Inland Environments of Kingwood, and the work is expected to be completed by early 2009. A ground-breaking ceremony for the new facility is planned for late January.

"Everyone is very excited about this project, and the demolition of the existing building is the necessary first step in this construction project," Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration, said during the meeting.

Regents also approved the purchase of a property located at 3028 Raguet St., adjacent to the Pineywoods Native Plant Center. The purchase price was $392,000.

The administration requested additional funding of approximately $8,100 for electrical upgrades to the Baker Pattillo Student Center, which are needed to accommodate the new HVAC units being installed in the older part of the building. The increase was approved by the regents and brings the total amount of the contract with Kingham Construction for the HVAC replacement to approximately $2.96 million.

The Board of Regents approved an agreement between the university, SFA gardens and Friends of the SFA Gardens. The agreement establishes Friends of the SFA Gardens as an independent support group for the university.

Among the faculty appointments approved by the regents in the College of Liberal and Applied Arts were: Matthew Babcock, visiting assistant professor of history; Marilyn M. Gruebel, visiting assistant professor of government; Linda Levitt, assistant professor of communication; and George Dustin Lawhorn and Sudeshna Roy, instructors of communication. The following changes of status also were approved for the college: Deborah E. Bush and Nancy S. Fox, from adjunct faculty to lecturers of English and philosophy; and Joe R. Lansdale, from adjunct faculty to writer in residence.

The following faculty appointments also were approved: Calee J. Holcombe, visiting lecturer of accounting; Nugget Cunningham, assistant professor of educational leadership; Heather Ann Small, visiting professor of music; and Michelle Pack Klein and Sherry A. VanMeter, clinical instructors of nursing.

Regents approved the following athletic appointments at their meeting Tuesday: Sean Patrick Longergan, assistant track coach; Michael Trae Manny, assistant soccer coach; Chadwyck Massengale, assistant baseball coach; Jared Byron May, assistant football coach; and Troyce Solley, athletic trainer. Changes of status in athletics include: Johnny R. Cardenas, from assistant baseball coach to head baseball coach; Sanford Miller, from senior trainer to assistant director of athletic sports medicine; and Brette Tanner, from assistant men's basketball coach to assistant head men's basketball coach.

The following staff appointments also were approved: Elisabeth J. Miller, admissions counselor; Rhonda Crim-Tumelson, coordinator of alumni communications; Christy M. Leduff, Early Childhood Lab teacher; Amber Low Middleton, institutional research analyst; Nicole L. Nelson, associate director of institutional research; Jacquelyn E. Vose, information technology services programmer analyst I; Jackson Floyd Brown, program director - Academic Assistance and Resource Center; Winston Baker, director of residence life; Jennifer J. Ewing, career counselor and research coordinator; and Damon C. Derrick, staff attorney.

Staff changes of status approved by the regents include: Melissa Eddings, from coordinator of school relations to admissions counselor; Mitzi Blackburn, from alumni affairs assistant to director of alumni activities and events; Jill Milem, from senior counselor to assistant director of counseling services/clinical director; John H. Lewis, from professor of economics and finance to interim vice president for development and professor of economics and finance; Kreg Mosier, from library systems administrator to manager of library web services; Ron Watson, from assistant to assistant director of physical plant; Lynda S. Langham, from legal assistant to general counsel to associate registrar; and Urisonya Roberson, from coordinator to director of multicultural center.

Regents also approved the following retirements: Mary Carns, associate professor of government; Thomas M. Houston, associate professor of music; Michael Legg, professor of forestry; and Wanda C. Mouton, associate professor of communication.

During committee meetings Monday, regents heard reports on ongoing and future construction projects at the university. Representatives of the architectural firm Perkins + Will presented the results of their recent assessment of academic space needs for the Department of Chemistry. The firm offered the board four possible solutions, including the construction of a new multi-story science building or expansion and renovation of existing academic facilities.

In other business, the SFA Board of Regents approved:

  • the Summer II and Fall 2008 small-size class list;
  • deleting the Bachelor of Science in agriculture with a major in agronomy and the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science with majors in gerontology;
  • several contracts with a list of firms to provide hourly architectural and engineering services to the university;
  • the annual audit plan, audit charter and report;
  • continuation of a contract for retail fuel purchases at discounted prices;
  • a contract extension with Collegiate Licensing Company to identify and protect the university's official logos and marks;
  • the purchase of a portion of the university's natural gas needs from Centerpoint Energy Services; and
  • revisions to various university policies as recommended by the general counsel.