NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Stephen F. Austin State University board of regents concluded its quarterly meeting Monday during which it announced it will schedule a special meeting next month to make a decision on system affiliation, approved funds for renovation of the first floor of Steen Library to create the Lumberjack Learning Commons, and approved a new name for the Department of Geology.
On Sunday, regents heard reports from Madison Gartman, president of the Student Government Association; Alison Reed, chair of the Staff Council; Dr. Lorenzo Smith, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; and Erika Tolar, president of the SFA Alumni Association board of directors. They discussed the strengths and weaknesses of responses from the four systems being considered for affiliation — Texas A&M University System, Texas State University System, Texas Tech University System and The University of Texas System. Questions from SFA student, staff, faculty and alumni groups were gathered and submitted to all systems Sept. 27.
Gartman, Reed, Smith and Tolar said that once their group members learned all four systems would allow SFA to maintain its name, brand and culture, they began to assess the systems’ other responses. Their assessments can be found at sfasu.edu/system.
The regents will study these findings and meet again in November to determine the next steps for system affiliation. That date will be announced soon. Affiliation with a system will require enabling legislation. The 88th Texas Legislative session begins Jan. 10, 2023.
In other business, regents approved the reallocation of $1.5 million from the campus space realignment and renovation project budget for the renovation of the Steen Library first floor to establish the Lumberjack Learning Commons. The renovations include creating a makerspace for maker technologies, relocating the Office of International Programs from Dugas Liberal Arts North, finishing the relocation of the Student Success Center, and adding new digital signage.
Additional funds were approved for the removal of Hall 16 and increased expenses associated with the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts expansion due to inflation and the reintegration of a patron drop-off drive.
Regents also approved changing the name of the Department of Geology to the Department of Earth Sciences and Geological Resources. Department faculty members believe this name change will better reflect the disciplines within that department and bring it more in line with current professional and academic trends impacting those disciplines.
Interim President Dr. Steve Westbrook reported on the exceptional item requests in SFA’s legislative appropriations request submitted to the Legislative Budget Board for consideration during the 88th Texas Legislature. The LAR requests the following appropriated funds for fiscal years 2024 and 2025:
- $130 million for campus capital renewal and modernization
- $23.4 million for additional institutional enhancement funds for salary equity
- $2 million for first-generation student support
- $1.7 million for JacksTeach, SFA’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher preparation program
- and $1.07 million for the Arnold Center for Entrepreneurship.
Westbrook said these requests were in line with requests made by other institutions of higher education.
Regents also acknowledged receipt of the audit services report and approved:
- curriculum changes
- additional grant awards totaling $172,312 for fiscal year 2022 to date and $6,533,749 for fiscal year 2023
- policy revisions
- and the minutes of previous meetings.
Regents heard general presidential, staff, faculty and student reports from Westbrook; Reed; Dr. Chris McKenna, chair of the Faculty Senate; and Cayenne Alexander, chief justice for Student Government Association.