NACOGDOCHES, Texas — During its three-day quarterly meeting, the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents made plans for the anticipated passage of the bill making SFA a member of The University of Texas System.
As the regents met, Senate Bill 1055 was undergoing its second reading on the House floor of the 88th Texas Legislature in Austin. When it completes its third reading, the bill will be forwarded to Gov. Greg Abbott for signature.
“We don’t anticipate any issues,” said Dr. Steve Westbrook, SFA president. “It’s just a matter of process. It is one of the most universally agreed upon pieces of legislation we’ve encountered.”
Westbrook thanked state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, and their staffs.
“They have worked tirelessly on behalf of the university on what is a complex piece of legislation,” Westbrook added.
He also thanked Dr. Charlotte Sullivan, SFA’s director of governmental relations, and her counterparts at the UT System along with UT Chancellor James Milliken and UT Board of Regents Chair Kevin Eltife.
“This new era will be a game changer for the university and the citizens of Nacogdoches County and East Texas,” Westbrook said.
The SFA regents proceeded to make recommendations to keep the transition process moving once the bill is signed by the governor.
“We want to be well positioned for the transfer of management and control and make it as seamless as possible,” Westbrook said. “You won’t even see the lights flicker.”
Transfer of management and control to UT System
SFA is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. For SFA to retain its status as an accredited institution, SACSCOC requires that any governance change receive the prior approval of SACSCOC’s Board of Trustees, and that any approved governance change occur within 30 days of its approval.
The regents unanimously recommended that, should the legislation filed to create Stephen F. Austin State University, a member of The University of Texas System, become law and SACSCOC approve the change in governance at its June 2023 meeting, the UT System Board of Regents takes necessary action to accept management and control of SFA when transferred by the SFA Board of Regents effective no earlier than July 1 and no later than July 28, with a target date of July 1. This transfer includes SFA’s operations, real property and other assets.
The SFA regents also granted the SFA president the authority to suspend university policies as needed to manage SFA from April 26 until management and control are transferred to the UT Board of Regents.
Appointment of an interim SFA president
The SFA board will still be the governing body of the university on May 31, the date of Westbrook’s retirement. The SFA regents will collaborate with the UT System to appoint an interim president most likely at a special-called SFA board meeting May 10, during which Westbrook’s retirement will be accepted by the regents.
The interim president will serve until the 11th president is named by the UT System, which will conduct the presidential search after the legislation is signed by the governor.
Other board actions
Regents also acknowledged receipt of the audit services report and approved:
• curriculum changes
• grant awards totaling $8,240,994 for fiscal year 2023
• policy revisions
• and the minutes of previous meetings.
Regents heard general presidential, faculty, staff and student reports from Westbrook; Dr. Chris McKenna, chair of the Faculty Senate; Alison Reed, chair of the Staff Council; and Jada Cartwright and Nathan Lyons, Student Government Association president and vice president, respectively.
For more information, visit sfasu.edu/regents.