Individuals interested in aviation will soon have the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree that leads to aircraft pilot certification at Stephen F. Austin State University, following approval by the Board of Regents during a specially called meeting Thursday.

The university plans to partner with an aviation training school to offering the new bachelor’s degree. Two aviation training firms responded to a request for proposals issued by the university, and HCH Aviation was selected as a partner.

“We are excited to partner with HCH and expand our academic offerings,” said Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president. “The aviation program will be a win for our current and future students, our partners and the community.”

According to Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of the Perkins College of Education, the university will develop and implement the aviation science degree, and courses will be offered beginning in fall 2021.

“The students will begin their flight lab at the A.L. Mangham Jr. Regional Airport, located on State Hwy. 7 west of Nacogdoches,” Abbott said. “By the end of the semester, they will have approximately 45 flight hours accumulated.”

Regents also approved the cost for tuition and fees for students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies through the university’s partnership with the Texas A&M System’s RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan-College Station. The partnership will appeal to a new group of transfer students for SFA, according to Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to diversify our offerings in education,” Gallant said. “This is likely a group of students that we could not attract if we weren’t involved in this partnership.”

The tuition cost of $4,647.75 for a 15 semester credit hours is the same rate charged by other A&M institutions offering courses on the RELLIS campus. SFA’s program on the RELLIS campus will begin in fall 2021.

After an executive session, regents approved the acceptance of an invitation for SFA athletics to join the Western Athletic Conference in 2022. The WAC is currently home to California Baptist, Chicago State, Dixie State, Grand Canyon University, New Mexico State, Seattle University, Tarleton State, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Utah Valley University. Gordon will negotiate the terms of the agreement.  

The regents also approved a reallocation of $200,000 that had been designated for computer acquisition and replacement. The funding will be used for security initiatives including an antivirus/endpoint protection solution, a multifactor authentication solution and a self-service password reset portal. A portion of CARES Act funding will be used for critical computer replacements.

Regents authorized the SFA Charter School Board to approve the Audited Annual Financial and Compliance Report. The report is examined by an independent auditor and submitted annually to the Texas Education Agency.

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