NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Facilities at Stephen F. Austin State University will bear the names of a Nacogdoches couple and a former SFA regent after the individuals were honored Tuesday by the SFA Board of Regents.

The chemistry building was named in honor of SFA benefactors Dr. Robert and Kathy Lehmann.

"Dr. Robert and Kathy Lehmann are a part of this university," said Dr. Baker Pattillo, university president. "They have dedicated time, expertise and financial resources to the university, and we are honored to express our admiration and gratitude to them with this recognition."

Robert established the Lehmann Eye Center in Nacogdoches 40 years ago. As an ophthalmologist, he is recognized for his contributions in the advancement of surgical techniques in the management of eye diseases and has been instrumental in bringing new technology to the field of ophthalmology.

His wife, Kathy, attended SFA and serves as the administrator of Lehmann Eye Center. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

The Lehmanns have contributed to student scholarships and to the advancement of SFA programs including fine arts, modern languages, hospitality, athletics, nursing, the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Women in STEM initiative. 

"Kathy and I are extremely honored for this recognition and feel SFA has been a tremendous blessing to us, to our community, to all of East Texas and beyond," Dr. Lehmann said.

The Robert and Kathy Lehmann Chemistry Building houses the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

"This is very exciting and a great opportunity for the department to improve the learning experiences for chemistry and biochemistry majors as a result of the Lehmanns' generosity," said Dr. Michael Janusa, chair of the department.

The three-story glass atrium of the Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building, currently under construction on the campus, will bear the name of the late regent Barry Nelson.

A 1971 graduate of SFA, Nelson was appointed to the SFA Board of Regents Feb. 14, 2013. As chair of the board's Building and Grounds Committee, Nelson was instrumental in the planning phase of the STEM Building and was adamant that the building needed an iconic atrium, Pattillo explained.

"Barry Nelson was the driving force behind this project," Pattillo said. "He had a love and appreciation for higher education. Naming the atrium in his honor will ensure that Nelson will be known and remembered for years as thousands of students utilize this building."

Nelson was unable to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility on Nov. 7, 2016, but a speech he had prepared for the occasion was read. He passed away the following day.

The building is scheduled to open in fall 2018.

Regents also approved the construction of a new greenhouse at the SFA Gardens' Pineywoods Native Plant Center on Raguet Street.

In 2016, crop science was added to the core curriculum, increasing student traffic to the greenhouse and SFA Gardens facilities.

"This greenhouse will serve as a hands-on experiential learning space for SFA students and will provide great academic and research opportunities," said Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The greenhouse addition, which will comprise approximately 7,200 square feet, will include site preparation, greenhouse kit, controllers, greenhouse and propagation accessories, security fencing and additional utilities. More than $180,000 in donations has been raised to build the facility.

Additionally, to reflect changes in the field of human dimensions in forestry, regents approved a name change of the Master of Science in resource interpretation to the Master of Science in resource communications.

In other business, one year ago, regents approved a designated tuition rate of $192 per semester credit hour for the 2016-17 school year. On Tuesday, regents approved retaining the same designated tuition rate with no increase for the 2017-18 school year. Tuition rates also were set for students who enter the university during the school year and elect to participate in a fixed-rate tuition plan.

Regents approved a change in the fees for excessive credit hours.

"The university does not receive funding from the state for students who have exceeded by 30 hours the number of semester credit hours required for the degree program in which they are enrolled, or when they enroll in a course that they've previously been enrolled in two or more times," said Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration. "We are authorized by the state to charge those students the equivalent of out-of-state, non-statutory tuition, which is $458 per semester credit hour."

Regents set the fees for excessive hour tuition and the charge for courses repeated three or more times at $200 per semester credit hour, in addition to the regular tuition and fees regularly charged. Regents also approved changes in course and lab fees for fiscal year 2017-18.

Room rates for the majority of students living on campus this academic year will increase by 0.5 percent. Due to ongoing upgrades and improvements in Hall 20, including a scheduled replacement of the building's HVAC system, room rates for that residence hall will increase 5 percent.

Regents approved a 1.7 percent increase in board rates. "The administration and our food service provider, Aramark, negotiate rate increases on the basis of the Food and Beverage element of the Consumer Price Index, published by the U.S. Department of Labor," said Steve Westbrook, vice president for university affairs. "The index increased to 1.9 percent, but we negotiated a 1.7 percent increase."

Regents ratified $486,689 in additional grant awards allocable to the fiscal year 2016-17. The funds are a portion of approximately $6 million for the fiscal year.

In other business, the board approved faculty and staff member appointments and changes of status at its meeting Tuesday.

In the College of Fine Arts, the board approved the appointment of Jack Heifner as visiting professor of theatre. They also approved appointments of Monique Nunn, Student Success Center coordinator, and Samantha Hosea, counselor in Student Affairs Support Services, as well as assistant football coaches Benjamin Beasley, William Best, Jake Brown, Jeffrey Byrd, David Gary Crowton, Jeremy Hammock, Thomas Howe, Joshua Lawson, Terry Mills and Jeremy Moses.

Changes of status approved included Flora Farago, from instructor to assistant professor of human sciences, James I. Perkins College of Education; and Christopher Alan Scott, from web design specialist to coordinator of web services, University Marketing Communications. Gavin McCarty, manager of the SFA Post Office, was approved to also serve as interim director of printing services.

Regents approved the fiscal year 2015-16 annual financial report and acknowledged the receipt of the audit services report. In a special telephone meeting on Jan. 23, regents approved the SFA Charter School 2015-16 audited financial statements.

During the Tuesday meeting, the board approved:

  • an agreement with Oncor Electric to construct an electric feed to provide power to the new housing operations facility on University Drive;
  • the transfer of a water well at SFA's Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Center from SND Operating LLC to the university to support livestock operations;
  • acceptance of a gift from the estate of Alfred E. Danheim Jr.;
  • a resolution to acknowledge review of investment policy and strategy;
  • qualified financial institutions, investment managers and brokers; and
  • the Education Advisory Board Student Success Collaborative Contract amendment to include travel costs through Dec. 30, 2020.

Regents also elected board officers for 2017-18: David Alders, chair; Brigettee Henderson, vice chair; and Alton Frailey, secretary.

Regents approved policy revisions and minutes from the November meeting. They received updates on the electricity contract, Senate Bill 20 and the university's branding campaign. Regents heard reports from Texas A&M University System Investments, the Faculty Senate, Student Government Association and the university president.