NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents voted Friday during a telephone conference meeting to grant SFA President Dr. Scott Gordon the temporary authority to suspend university policies and take any necessary lawful action to help cope with COVID-19 without obtaining prior board approval.

Brigettee Henderson, chair of the Board of Regents, said the authority will automatically terminate once the university resumes normal operations, unless terminated earlier by the board.

“This global pandemic has already caused significant disruption to the university’s operations,” Henderson said. “The situation requires the university’s swift action to help minimize the impact to SFA’s students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders. Granting this authority will help speed up that response time.”

Henderson also recognized SFA’s administrators, faculty and staff for their diligence in dealing with the national emergency.

“Our campus community is to be commended for all the work they are doing to serve our students,” Henderson said. “The main priority is to keep everyone safe while also ensuring our students complete the necessary coursework to progress in their degree program. It has been no small task to convert classes to an online format, but that has been accomplished.”

The university announced March 19 that courses will continue to be taught in an online or distance format for the remainder of the spring semester, as well as throughout the summer semesters.

“Although we have faced many challenges during the past few weeks, we also have seen the SFA and Nacogdoches communities come together,” Gordon said. “Although our students are not here in Nacogdoches physically, they are foremost on our minds. We will continue to do whatever is possible to ensure their educational needs are met.”

During the meeting, the board also approved a wireless networking upgrade and the guidelines for use of the environmental service fee.