NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University is cooking up new transformational experiences for students in the School of Human Sciences.

At its quarterly meeting, the SFA Board of Regents approved the purchase of a mobile food lab — a gourmet food truck — that will be utilized on campus and at recruiting events such as career and college fairs.

“This mobile lab will be the first of its kind in Texas, and there are only a few nationally that are utilized as an academic laboratory,” said Dr. Lynda Martin, director of SFA’s School of Human Sciences. “We are excited to offer students this unique avenue for learning.”

The food truck trend began in Los Angeles and has become popular across the nation. According to its website, research by the National Restaurant Association shows that the food truck trend will continue to accelerate as entrepreneurs use them to enter the restaurant industry.

SFA’s mobile food lab will allow students to experience active learning in a realistic setting as well as engage and empower students to create and execute an entrepreneurial business plan.

“This type of transformational practice makes a difference in students’ lives,” Martin said. “Students working the mobile food lab will gain experience with running alternative venues, meal planning, menu creation, budgeting and more.”

The university plans to have the mobile food lab purchased and operational by January 2019.

For the second year in a row, regents avoided increasing designated tuition. Course and lab fees, which provide funds to support the actual cost of consumable supplies, service and travel related to specific courses, were adjusted to accurately reflect the costs of course delivery for 2018-19.

To simplify billing and budgeting, four mandatory fees were consolidated into a university services fee. The academic advising, library, publication and technology fees, which previously totaled $49 per semester credit hour, have been eliminated. The new university services fee was set at $73 per semester credit hour.

The student services fee, which covers a variety of services including the SFA Health Clinic, increased by $1 to $13.50 per semester credit hour for fiscal year 2019.

Room rates will increase by 2 percent effective fall 2018. Regents also approved a 1.9 percent increase in board rates. Almost half of the residence halls on campus have room rates less than $2,000 per semester for 2018-19.

The board approved renovations to the third and fourth floors of the McGee Business Building to further transform the building for the Rusche College of Business. Updates will include lobby spaces, common areas, classrooms and an innovation hub.

Regents heard reports from three design firms before selecting the Gensler firm to assess and develop programming for SFA’s athletic facilities. Gensler will evaluate existing campus athletic facilities to give direction and recommendations for improving these facilities. Designated funds will be used to fund the architectural assessment.

The largest design firm in the world, Gensler has more than 3,500 clients and has been named No. 1 on Building Design’s Top 100 list for the third year in a row. Gensler's work history includes more than 120 sports projects worldwide, including Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University, and The Star in Frisco, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The board authorized an agreement with Under Armour as the exclusive sponsor to supply apparel to SFA’s athletic program. This agreement will provide SFA with Under Armour shoes, uniforms, equipment and accessory products valued at $125,000 in the first two years and at $135,000 in years three through five. Additionally, Under Armour will pay the university performance bonuses based on the achievements of athletic teams in each contract year, and the team dealer will provide additional products valued at $10,000 each year.

SFA also will work with Paciolan — a Learfield company that is a leader in ticketing, fundraising, marketing analytics and technology solutions — to update the athletic ticketing system to a digital format. According to Robert Hill, director of athletics, the system will allow patrons to renew season passes and purchase tickets via their mobile devices. Fans will be able to present electronic tickets via mobile devices for admission to sporting events.

“In addition to increasing overall net ticket revenue, this system can be coordinated with our social media efforts and has the potential to enhance the fan experience, increase alumni and community engagement, and assist with fundraising campaigns,” Hill said.

The university will no longer print a curriculum catalog, but will work with Digarc to create a more efficient and user-friendly way of managing SFA’s course curriculum and catalog. By utilizing Digarc’s Acalog and Curriculog software, the university will offer up-to-date course information digitally. The software solution will provide a secure online process that syncs with Banner, the university’s current course information system.

The Department of Agriculture plans to build an additional livestock facility at the Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Center. To provide electricity to the facility, regents approved an easement agreement, or temporary access, with the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative. Regents also signed off on a similar agreement with Oncor Electric to relocate an electric pole on SFA property as the Texas Department of Transportation widens East Austin Street.

During the Tuesday meeting, the board also approved:

  • a four-year agreement with Oracle for purchase of the Oracle Exadata “Cloud at Customer” system with offsite backup;
  • a contract with Oracle for a budget and financial forecasting system;
  • changing the food, nutrition and dietetics degree to dietetics and nutritional sciences to better reflect the two focus areas of the degree;
  • resolutions to acknowledge review of investment policy and strategy and approve qualified financial institutions and investment brokers;
  • ratifying $325,698 in additional grant awards allocable to fiscal year 2018;
  • the release of rights for a potential invention to Dr. Matibur Zamadar, SFA assistant professor of chemistry;
  • the SFA Charter School audited financial statements for 2016-17; and
  • the 2016-17 annual financial report and acknowledged the receipt of audit services report.

Regents elected board officers for 2018-19: Brigettee Henderson, chair; Alton Frailey, vice chair; and Nelda Blair, secretary.

The board approved policy revisions and minutes from the October meetings. Regents received updates on the statutory contract (Senate Bill 20), the university’s marketing campaign and current construction.

Regents heard reports from Texas A&M University System Investments; Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the Rusche College of Business; Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of the James I. Perkins College of Education; the Faculty Senate; Student Government Association and the university president.