NACOGDOCHES, Texas — During a one-day special-called meeting, the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents selected Kirksey Architecture to create a new forestry, agriculture and interdisciplinary facility and promoted Piero Fenci, professor of art, to professor emeritus.
Regents awarded a contract for an initial amount not to exceed $5.6 million to architectural engineering firm Kirksey Architecture for designing SFA’s new forestry, agriculture and interdisciplinary facility at the Todd Agricultural Research Center. Kirksey Architecture built the Cole STEM Building and is overseeing renovations to the Griffith Fine Arts Building.
In 2021, the 87th Texas Legislature approved $45 million in capital construction assistance projects funding for SFA to build a new forestry and agriculture facility. As part of system affiliation, The University of Texas System offered another $35 million for a total of $80 million to build SFA’s new forestry, agriculture and interdisciplinary facility.
Also during the board meeting, Dr. Steve Westbrook, SFA president, presented the recommendation promoting Fenci to professor emeritus.
“It would really be impossible to measure the impact that Piero has had on hundreds of students during his time here,” Westbrook said.
Fenci, who is a Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts Dean’s Circle Endowed Professor award recipient, has been with SFA since 1975 and has distinguished himself as both an artist and an educator. His ceramic vessels have been featured in Ceramics Monthly, American Ceramics, The Contemporary Potter, and Clay and Glazes for the Potter. In 2004, he founded the first university program in contemporary ceramic art in the history of northern Mexico at la Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua in Chihuahua City, and he continues to travel there to mentor the program.
Fenci has earned an international reputation as a ceramist, exhibiting his work from coast to coast and in Italy, Russia and Mexico. He was named “Texas Master” by the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, becoming the fourth person (and the first ceramist) in the state to be honored with the award.
“Thank you to the board and the university for making it possible for me to have a glorious career here in Nac,” said Fenci, who is scheduled to retire Aug. 31.
“I am not leaving, though,” he added. “I love this emeritus position because I can continue to mentor my students. I am here and will continue to be supportive of you all. Just give me a holler.”
Fenci lives and shares a studio with his sculptor wife, Elizabeth Akamatsu. His work is represented in private and public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York; and in the Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler. His latest exhibition, “Grand Voyage: The Art of Piero Fenci,” runs through September at Dallas’ Museum of Biblical Art.
For more information, visit sfasu.edu/regents.