NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A Virginia-based marketing research firm hired by the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents Tuesday will conduct an audit of the institution's marketing and communications initiatives this spring.

SimpsonScarborough was one of three firms that made presentations to the board's finance and audit committee Monday morning, and the agency's selection was approved by the full board Tuesday.

"We will receive a complete assessment of our marketing communications activities, along with recommendations for streamlining and increasing the efficiency and consistency of our efforts," said Shirley Luna, executive director of public affairs and marketing for SFA.

The firm's assessment will include a review of all relevant materials and two on-campus visits. The project is expected to be completed in approximately two months' time.

"SimpsonScarborough has unmatched expertise and a reputation as the leader in higher education research and strategy," Luna said. "The agency has provided consulting services for more than 1,000 colleges, universities and higher education associations throughout the United States, and their representatives frequently teach marketing, branding and media relations workshops at higher education conferences."

Tom Hayes, vice president of SimpsonScarborough, is the author of "Marketing Colleges and Universities: A Services Approach," which won the 2009 Alice L. Beeman Award for outstanding research from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

In other business, regents approved:

  • an audit services report that included campus programs for minors, NCAA external financial compliance, the SFA Charter School, and the annual audit plan;
  • review of the investment policy and strategy;
  • qualified financial institutions and investment brokers;
  • depository contracts with BancorpSouth, Citizens 1st Bank, Commercial Bank of Texas, First Bank and Trust of East Texas, Regions Bank and Wells Fargo Bank;
  • outsourcing of insurance billing for health-clinic services to Vivature;
  • acceptance of grant awards;
  • revisions to policies; and
  • submission of a renewal application for the SFA Charter School.