NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents has approved an institutional budget for Fiscal Year 2014 totaling approximately $237.09 million, which includes a 3-percent merit pool for faculty and staff pay increases for the second consecutive year.

The planned allocations represent a 4-percent increase over last year's institutional budget. A $4.98 million capital plan also was approved by the board at its quarterly meeting Tuesday. The plan includes capital renewal, planned maintenance and renovation projects throughout campus.

"We have developed a very sound budget, and, frankly, considering the economic challenges we have worked through in previous budget sessions, I was very pleased to present this 2013-14 operating budget to the board," said Danny Gallant, SFA vice president for finance and administration. He added that pay increases for faculty and staff members represent one of the university's highest strategic plan initiatives.

The board also selected the Texas-based marketing and creative design firm Richards/Carlberg to provide requested marketing services for the university. Representatives from the firm presented to the Finance and Audit Committee on Monday, along with two other firms being considered.

Richards/Carlberg has done award-winning creative work in the area of higher education, including extensive re-branding campaigns for University of Houston-Downtown, University of St. Thomas, University of Houston-Clear Lake and Lone Star College.

"The committee heard excellent presentations Monday, but the Regents were especially impressed with recent case studies presented by Richards/Carlberg, in particular their work with higher education institutions in the Houston area," said Shirley Luna, executive director of the Office of University Marketing Communications. "In the coming months, the university will be working hand-in-hand with the team from Richards/Carlberg on an extensive new marketing initiative for SFA."

During the meeting Tuesday, the board also approved:

  • the re-election of the university president, general counsel, director of audit services and coordinator of board affairs, all positions that report directly to the regents;
  • a licensing agreement with TreeSearch Farms, who will join several other nurseries in selling "Purple Pride," a new type of Chickasaw Plum tree for which SFA researchers have filed for patent protection;
  • selection of various legal firms for inclusion on the university's pre-approved list of outside counsel in the fields of intellectual property, immigration, public finance, bond issuance and finance;
  • an extension of SFA's contract with the Texas General Land Office to supply natural gas to the campus;
  • changing the name of SFA's Office of Public Affairs to the Office of University Marketing Communications;
  • negotiating with First Southwest Company for bond issuance-related services;
  • renewing a contract for servicing of the Perkins Loan Program with Xerox Education Services for two years;
  • entering into a contract with Accent Food Services for the provision of vending services;
  • new grant awards allocable to Fiscal Year 2013 that total approximately $418,000 and financial aid awards that total approximately $543,000; and
  • investment of university funds with those of one or more other higher education institutions in order to the meet provisions of new state legislation.