Stephen F. Austin State University Interim President Gina Oglesbee, SFA benefactor Bill Elliott and Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts Dean Dr. Gary Wurtz are surrounded by former SFA Board of Regents members

Stephen F. Austin State University Interim President Gina Oglesbee, SFA benefactor Bill Elliott and Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts Dean Dr. Gary Wurtz are surrounded by former SFA Board of Regents members David Alders of Nacogdoches; Thomas Mason of Dallas; Robert Flores of Nacogdoches; Nancy Windham of Nacogdoches; Brigettee Carnes Henderson of Lufkin; Karen Gantt of McKinney; Scott Coleman of Houston; and Alton Frailey of Katy, at the recent ribbon cutting and grand opening of the newly renovated Griffith Fine Arts Building on the SFA campus.

a standing ovation at the end of the world premiere of "How Proud the Pines" during Stephen F. Austin State University's Centennial Concert

The world premiere of “How Proud the Pines” was received with enthusiasm during Stephen F. Austin State University’s Centennial Concert at the grand opening of the Griffith Fine Arts Building. Written by composer Stephen Lias with lyrics from poems of the late Karle Wilson Baker, the masterwork performed by SFA orchestra and choir received a standing ovation.

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS – Before a packed second-floor lobby in the newly renovated Griffith Fine Arts Building Sunday afternoon, a commemorative ribbon was cut to officially open and dedicate the expanded fine arts complex on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus.
“This building has been a dream for many years, and to see it here today filled with people who are excited about the arts is wonderful to see,” said SFA Interim President Gina Oglesbee. “Today, we are not only excited to show the building off, but also to dedicate the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts.”
Local and state dignitaries joined SFA administrators, faculty, staff, students and community patrons for the grand opening, open house and Centennial Concert as part of SFA’s 100th birthday weekend of events. Among the honorees were the families of SFA benefactors Bill Elliott and Teresa Jill Adams, as well as filmmaking professor William Arscott. Newly installed plaques honoring the contributions to SFA made by the Micky Elliott Family Foundation and Adams (through the Teresa Jill Adams Art Gallery) were unveiled, along with a plaque naming the William E. Arscott Sound Stage.
U.S Congressman Pete Sessions recognized the benevolence of Elliott and his late wife Micky through contributions from the family foundation to SFA’s fine arts college for scholarships and programming.
“I suspect everyone here has ideas of what this building will be used for, and the answer is for the benefit of everyone,” Sessions said. “And the benefit of everybody is truly a gift that comes from our belief in Texas that we have a right and an obligation to be proud of who we are and what we stand for, and that we are willing to share it with the world.”
Dr. A.C. “Buddy” Himes, former dean of the College of Fine Arts and longtime advocate for the new building, presented the project vision and scope to SFA’s former Board of Regents, which gave its approval in fall 2018.
“What is clear after 100 years, especially with this new building, is that SFA is stronger than ever,” Himes said to the crowd gathered Sunday. “Now that it is complete, I believe we can all agree that this new building is a most significant enhancement to the cityscape of Nacogdoches. Everyday at noon, when the bells ring the alma mater song, we are all reminded that SFA is in partnership with this community. This is reinforced by the fact that auditoriums, theatres, art galleries and dance studios will be centers that unify all of us.”
Dr. Gary Wurtz, dean of the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts, said of all the adjectives that could be used to describe the new state-of-the-art facility, the word that came to his mind was “worthy.”
“This building is worthy of this college, and this college has done what it was asked to do for the last three decades and more,” Wurtz said, “in growing enrollment and graduating students at the highest rate on campus. Today, I ask you to celebrate the VIPs – the students who were here before and today, the faculty and staff who were here before and are here now – because they are the ones who made this building worthy.”
Wurtz told Elliott that he “changed our lives with your gift.”
“Your continued generosity through your foundation promises to look out for us in perpetuity,” he added. “You allowed us to attach your name and Micky’s to our college, which elevates us.”
Elliott commended his employee team at Elliott Electric Supply, the eighth largest electrical supplies distributor in the U.S., for being the driving force behind the creation and funding of the Micky Elliott Family Foundation, which allows continued contribution to SFA and other entities.
“We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this community and what the community has done for us for the past 50 years,” he said.
The grand opening concluded with the sold-out Centennial Concert, which premiered the original composition, “How Proud the Pines,” by Dr. Stephen Lias, SFA professor of composition. For the piece’s lyrics, he used poems by the late Karle Wilson Baker, an original faculty member and one of Texas’ most celebrated poets in the first half of the 20th century. The commissioned piece honors SFA’s 100 years of educational excellence and service.
The Fine Arts Expansion Initiative extended the Griffith Fine Arts Building along North Street. In addition to the renovations to Turner Auditorium, the state-of-the-art building has two dance studios, two new theatres, a recording studio, a sound stage, audio and video editing rooms, an art gallery, multiple classrooms, rehearsal facilities, faculty offices and the offices of the Elliott College of Fine Arts dean. The facilities house the college’s sound recording technology, filmmaking, theatre, dance and musical theatre programs.
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 36 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at