NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents approved proposed changes to the institution's core curriculum at its quarterly meeting Monday.

As directed by the Texas Legislature, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board issued rules requiring a complete overhaul of core curriculum in all Texas public institutions of higher education. The core curriculum includes 42 semester credit hours of coursework that students can transfer to any higher education institution.

Dr. Richard Berry, provost and vice president for academic affairs, appointed a committee to study and recommend the new core curriculum requirements, which now includes six core objectives: Critical thinking skills, communication skills, empirical and quantitative skills, teamwork, social responsibility, and personal responsibility.

"Each department and college reviewed each core course that it offered, deleting some courses and revising others. New courses will be created, and existing courses may be revised," Berry explained. "The core objectives differ by component area, and faculty members who teach courses designated as fulfilling a component area will be responsible for assessing the objectives for that component area."

Pending THECB approval, SFA's proposed core curriculum will become effective in fall 2014.

A vote on increasing the university's admission standards was tabled after SFA President Baker Pattillo explained the need for additional time to study the issue as a result of House Bill 5. The new legislation will significantly impact high school graduation requirements, as well as the public school assessment system.

"There will be some people who say that we are not increasing the academic standards because we are down 227 students this fall, but that has nothing to do with it," Pattillo said. "We would like to see what happens with House Bill 5 before we make our recommendations.

"We are dedicated to further increasing our academic standards, and we are still interested in recommending to (the regents) that the new standards be implemented in fall 2015."

The regents approved a slate of architectural and engineering firms that the university is authorized to use for various design and engineering services. The following firms were included: Omniplan of Dallas; Sutton Mitchell Beebe & Babin Architects of Lufkin; WHR Architects of Houston; Scott and Strong of Lufkin; FAI Engineers of Fort Worth; Sparks Engineering of Round Rock; BarWin Consultants of Nacogdoches; and Terracon Consultants of Lufkin.

In addition, the university was authorized by the board to work with two concrete service providers for projects that require concrete for site repair, new construction and other associated minor alterations. The approved companies are Cox Contractors of Nacogdoches and Trinity Bay Construction & Development of Sugar Land.

In other business, the Board of Regents approved:

  • Additional grant awards allocable to Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014 totaling $100,256 and $5,985,912, respectively;
  • A resolution authorizing the administration to sell portions of SFA-owned property along Starr Avenue to the Texas Department of Transportation for a road-widening project;
  • A bond refunding resolution that allows the university to issue one or more series of bonds to refinance outstanding bonds or to use cash on hand to redeem outstanding bonds for a one-year period; and
  • Various university policy revisions.