NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University will be closed and eligible employees furloughed for four days in the coming months to help meet an immediate required state budget reduction of more than $1 million. The Board of Regents on Tuesday approved closing the university April 21-22, May 27 and July 1.

Staff members classified as "exempt" will be allowed to expend accrued vacation time for the required furlough days or take leave without pay. "Non-exempt" staff members may choose to expend accrued vacation and/or compensatory time or take leave without pay.

SFA faculty members will not be affected this budget cycle because their current contracts do not allow for furloughs. Administrators indicated that future faculty contracts will include such a provision. SFA personnel considered essential to the operation of the university will be required to work during the furlough days but must expend four days of appropriate leave time prior to Aug. 31.

On Dec. 6, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the house sent a joint letter to the heads of state agencies directing them to reduce state appropriations by an additional 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2010-11. This 2.5-percent reduction is in addition to a 5-percent biennial reduction that was ordered in January 2010.

"Times are difficult, and I truly appreciate what the administration has done to come up the least painful way to address the state budget reduction," Regent Scott Coleman said.

The furloughs will result in a planned reduction in salary expenses of almost $600,000. Additional savings also are expected to result from closing the university on those four days, which have been scheduled so that the impact on the university's academic programs will be minimized.

The remaining $425,000 in the state budget reduction will be spread across all other areas of the university, including $200,000 from academic affairs, $100,000 from university affairs, and $100,000 from finance and administration. The biggest impact to academic affairs will involve cuts to the summer budget.

The SFA administration will now turn its attention to the legislative House bill, which reflects a reduction in general revenue funding of almost $20 million in the next two years. President Baker Pattillo said the administration will report on an expected reduction in the Fiscal Year 2011-2012 budget at the next Board of Regents meeting in April.

"There will be many difficult decisions made over the next several weeks and months, not only as we deal with the immediate reduction, but also as we prepare for the reductions that will be necessary in the development of our budget for the next fiscal year," Pattillo said. "I remain confident that we will work through these issues and emerge from these challenges more focused than ever."

The Board of Regents also approved the following items at the meeting Tuesday:

  • issuing a request for quotations to develop a new master plan for the university;
  • contracting with Mooring Recovery Services to provide restoration services in the event of emergencies such as wind damage, flood or fire;
  • naming a new 8-acre garden near the intersection of University Drive and Starr Avenue after the late Gayla Mize, a longtime SFA supporter;
  • Fiscal Year 2010 annual financial reports for the university and the SFA Charter School;
  • Resolutions to approve qualified financial institutions and investment brokers; and
  • grant awards from Sept. 15 to Dec. 21, 2010.