After a months-long effort, the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents approved negotiations with a new food service provider for the campus.

With objectives that include reimagining or replacing SFA’s East College Cafeteria and contributing to student satisfaction and enrollment growth, regents heard presentations by representatives with the current food service provider, Aramark, as well as competitors Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services and Sodexo.

A request for proposals for the food service contract, valued at approximately $73 million over seven years, was issued by SFA in November 2020. Aramark, Chartwells and Sodexo were the only three companies that submitted proposals.

Regents voted to authorize SFA President Scott Gordon to negotiate with Chartwells and, should the need arise, to subsequently enter into contract negotiations with Sodexo. Dr. Brandon Frye, SFA vice president for student affairs, expressed appreciation to a committee of SFA employees, as well as Envision Strategies, an external consulting firm, for their assistance with the project.

“Student access and success are top priorities for SFA, and we look forward to working with the selected vendor, after the contract is finalized, to advance those priorities through our dining services program and services,” Frye said. “We will work to ensure a smooth transition to the selected vendor.”

Chartwells is the food service provider for several Texas universities including Texas State University, the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas A&M University at College Station.

Regents also approved a housing allowance program that will give students even more reason to be part of SFA’s on-campus residential community. Qualifying new students can receive a housing scholarship of up to $3,000 per semester for up to two years.

“We want students living on campus,” Frye said. “Research shows the more engaged students are and the more active they are in university life, the better their chances for success.”

Based on the recommendation of a Campus Climate Steering Committee, regents approved a Diversity and Inclusion Statement to affirm the university’s commitment to creating an environment that respects, honors and values diverse experiences and perspectives.

The statement reads: At SFA, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is more than words—it is actions. We believe diversity and inclusion are keys to promoting more engaged individuals locally and globally. We at SFA are committed to amplifying a campus culture that nurtures belonging and embraces similarities while celebrating that every Lumberjack will be different. Those differences are valued, acknowledged and supported purposefully.

The 46-member committee includes faculty, staff, students and administrators.

“Our goal is to create welcoming learning environments and promote access and opportunity for all,” said Dr. Michara Delaney Fields, SFA’s chief diversity officer.

A STEM Research and Learning Center quasi-endowment of $500,000 will provide funds to support student scholarships for incoming freshman and returning students majoring in a STEM field within SFA’s College of Sciences and Mathematics. The funds also will support initiatives that reflect the teaching and learning mission of the STEM Research and Learning Center.

Regents approved utilizing solely private donations to replace the turf and track at Homer Bryce Stadium and voted to name the field in honor of former SFA regent Jimmy W. Murphy. Regents also approved the naming of three areas in the Loddie Naymola Basketball Performance Center at William R. Johnson Coliseum: the Dr. Robert and Ruth Carroll Sports Medicine Offices, the Coach Harry and Tillie Miller Fan Observation Area, and the Joe Max and Jane Green Lobby.

Regents approved grant awards and a LaNana Trails campus project to reconstruct the trail on the university campus. The initiative is part of a Texas Department of Transportation project valued at more than $1.8 million, and SFA is contributing $362,255 as a 20% institutional match.

Regents acknowledged receipt of the audit services report and also approved:

  • curriculum changes
  • the summer 2021 budget
  • policy revisions
  • and the minutes of previous meetings.

Regents heard from reports from President Gordon; Chris Moore, the president of the Student Government Association; and Dr. Andrew Lannen, chair of the Faculty Senate.

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