While we certainly wouldn’t complain about our winter weather to friends in the northern states, I think most people in Nacogdoches would agree that, by East Texas standards, it has been a cold few months on campus. The early signs of spring have been welcome sights, indeed. The spring semester is well underway, and exciting progress is taking place all across campus. You can read about some of that progress, along with interesting stories about our alumni, in this issue of Sawdust. I also would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some additional updates.
In November, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed four members to our Board of Regents, and all of them are proud SFA alumni, like you. McKinney attorney Karen Gantt, former president of the SFA Alumni Association Board of Directors, and Tom Mason, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Hillwood Development Co. in Dallas, were appointed for the first time. Brigettee Henderson of Lufkin and Ken Schaefer of Brownsville were reappointed to second terms on the board. The newly appointed regents were administered their oaths of office by District Judge Ed Klein at the board meeting in January.
In that same meeting, the regents had the honor of recognizing a special group of high-performing SFA students. They were the 40 SFA student-athletes who earned a perfect 4.0 GPA last semester. Their efforts combined with those of many other student-athletes to make fall 2017 the most academically successful semester for athletes in the history of the university. Our athletes can boast an overall cumulative GPA of 3.0, 12 teams with cumulative GPAs above 3.0, 180 student-athletes on the Athletic Director Honor Roll, 89 Southland Conference Commissioner’s List honorees and a record three Academic All-Americans. In addition, Marlon Walls, the senior engineering physics major and football safety who was featured on the cover of last fall’s Sawdust, was named Academic All-America of the Year for all of college football at the Football Championship Subdivision level. The numbers leave no doubt — Lumberjacks make great student-athletes! Some of those student-athletes will be among those attending classes this fall in the new $46 million Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building, which is on target to open in July. Under construction since fall 2016, this beautiful, one-of-a-kind facility will be a visually striking and tangible sign of the university’s strong commitment to improving the science, technology, engineering and mathematics education of Texas college students.
Just a couple of months after the STEM Building ribbon-cutting ceremony, on Sept. 18 we will celebrate the 95th anniversary of the opening of Stephen F. Austin State University. The details of the celebration are still being finalized, but I can assure you that cake and purple ice cream will be part of the agenda. This tradition dates all the way back to SFA’s opening day, when faculty and staff and about 270 students gathered outside to celebrate the 50th birthday of SFA’s first president, Dr. Alton W. Birdwell. I hope many of our alumni will be on hand that day as we take the opportunity to recognize 95 years of extraordinary history, tradition, scholarship and achievement. And I invite you to take part in upcoming initiatives that will help ensure SFA’s continued success through our 100th anniversary and beyond.
Axe ’em, Jacks!
Baker Pattillo 1965 and 1966
President, Stephen F. Austin State University