NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents took the first steps toward constructing a new, multi-story freshman residence hall and adjacent parking garage by selecting both an architect and construction manager for both projects at a meeting Tuesday.

Acting on the recommendation of the building and grounds committee, the board decided to enter into negotiations with the Houston firm Kirksey Architects for design services and the Nacogdoches-based J.E. Kingham Construction Company to complete the construction. Alternate firms also were chosen should the university fail to reach an agreement with either company.

The new parking garage is expected to be completed by July of 2010, with the opening of the new residence hall planned for a year later in time for the fall 2011 semester. Both structures are to be erected in the area of Garner Apartments, located south of East College Cafeteria near the intersection of East College Street and Wilson Drive.

Regents also approved a $5 increase in designated tuition for the 2009-10 fiscal year, raising the rate from $106 to $111 per semester credit hour. SFA President Baker Pattillo said the tuition increase is necessary to fund promised faculty and staff pay raises, as well as to offset costs associated with the addition of two new academic buildings at SFA.

"We have carefully considered the university's needs, as well as the needs of our students, parents and employees, and I think the recommendation we are making to the board today represents a fair price," Pattillo said.

Room-and-board rates for students also will increase in the coming fiscal year. Regents approved an average increase in room rates of 4.78 percent, along with a 1-percent increase in the cost of meal plans.

The board also voted to expand SFA's new Purple Promise Program to allow students whose annual family income is $30,000 or less to attend SFA free for up to four years. The program is available to all incoming freshman who meet the income threshold, complete a specified number of credit hours each semester and maintain certain academic standards.

A $760,000 increase in the construction budget for the new Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing was approved by the board Tuesday. The budget increase was the result of a $260,000 donation and the promise of another $500,000 gift intended for the purchase of instructional equipment that was not originally included in the project budget. The increase brings the total cost of the new facility scheduled to open in early 2010 to $13,760,000.

At the meeting Tuesday, regents also voted to:

  • Allocate $200,000 for development of the corner of North and East College streets, which is to include a water feature.
  • Change the name of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Gerontology to the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis to better reflect the various disciplines now included in the department.
  • Enter into a 5-year contract with the architectural firm of Morgan, Hill, Sutton and Mitchell to provide architectural services on an hourly basis as needed for various campus projects.
  • Use $500,000 in construction cost savings to purchase additional furniture for the new Early Childhood Research Center, which is scheduled to open in July.
  • Adopt a fiscal year 2008-09 summer budget totaling $5,412,632.
  • Slightly increase student library and technology fees.