The heat wave that settled over East Texas this summer fortunately gave way in late August just as we began welcoming students to SFA for the start of the fall semester. It's been 45 years since I first stepped foot on the SFA campus as a student, and the start of a new academic year invariably invokes the same feelings of hope, renewal and anticipation I experienced during that transformative time.
I enjoyed reminiscing with alumni at SFA Road Show events in May and June and invite you to join us for more exciting SFA happenings this fall. We will celebrate the university's 99th birthday with cake and purple ice cream Sept. 19 at the Stephen F. Austin statue in Sesquicentennial Plaza. The Battle of the Piney Woods football game against Sam Houston State University Oct. 1 at NRG Stadium will mark the end of an era in this historic football rivalry. I hope you will grab your purple spirit gear and join us in Houston to cheer on the Jacks, our cheer and dance teams, and the always great Lumberjack Marching Band. Homecoming Week is set for Oct. 24-29 and will culminate in the football game against Utah Tech University in Homer Bryce Stadium. These events are all great opportunities to engage with fellow SFA alumni and support our current students and programs.
Next, I'd like to update you on a matter that has been the subject of discussion on campus lately. As I shared with faculty and staff at our fall convocation, the SFA Board of Regents is moving forward with a formal inquiry into the possibility of SFA affiliating with one of the state's existing university systems. In the coming months, a board subcommittee will engage with representatives of the Texas A&M University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and University of Texas systems to discuss governance, financial and other issues surrounding a potential affiliation. Simultaneously, my administration will lead a comprehensive process to solicit input from faculty, staff, students, alumni and community representatives to be shared with the board. I support the board's willingness to examine this potential, and I hope you will consider contributing your own thoughts to this important discussion at sfasu.edu/system. The regents will hear reports from campus groups at their quarterly meeting in late October and anticipate making a decision concerning an affiliation before the end of the year. The timing of the search for SFA's next president will be contingent upon this decision.
And last, but certainly not least, our centennial year promises to be like none other in SFA's history. Plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary are well underway, with numerous events designed to pay homage to the university's past and our beloved Lumberjack traditions. A lot has changed since that September day in 1923 when 270 promising students arrived for SFA's first day of classes, but the proud legacy of scholarship and service they started thrives on our campus to this day. Thank you for the important part you have played in that shared history and for your continued support of our alma mater. I hope to see you back on campus soon.
Axe 'em, Jacks!
Dr. Steve Westbrook '81 & '89
Stephen F. Austin State University