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Board of Regents names Gina Oglesbee interim president, accepts Dr. Steve Westbrook's second retirement

Gina OglesbeeSFA's Board of Regents accepted the May 31 retirement of President Steve Westbrook and named Gina Oglesbee, vice president for finance and administration, as interim president beginning June 1. Oglesbee will serve as interim president until a new president is named. She will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

"The SFA community has worked with Gina for almost 20 years," said SFA Board of Regents Chair Karen Gantt. "She has a deep knowledge of the university's business operations, finances, culture and traditions, and she is an ideal candidate to lead SFA in its transition to The University of Texas System."

Oglesbee participated in the system affiliation evaluation process last fall and has been closely involved with the work surrounding the transfer of management and control of the university into the UT System. She served as a member of the SFA/UT Transition Steering Committee and as a member of the Core Transition Support Team. She was the chief audit executive at SFA for 17 years before being named as the vice president for finance and administration in April 2022. Oglesbee is a certified public accountant and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Administration from SFA.

Sylvans win 64th annual Southern Forestry Conclave

Sylvans posing with trophy

The Sylvans, SFA's forestry club and timbersports team, claimed top honors at the 64th annual Southern Forestry Conclave in March, marking the fifth consecutive conclave SFA has been crowned. The accomplishment also marks the team's eighth win of the past nine conclaves and 17 wins total.

"I told the team going into this year's Conclave there was only one team we needed to worry about this year - SFA," said Dr. Jeremy Stovall, Bone Hill Distinguished Professor of Silviculture and Sylvans faculty advisor. "Winning the previous four conclaves wasn't by chance. We'd put in the practice, worked hard to earn and raise money for the right equipment, did our homework, and learned our events inside and out."

Griffith Fine Arts Building hosts fall grand reopening

Interior of the Griffith Fine Arts buildingThe expansion and renovation of SFA's Griffith Fine Arts Building was completed in time for the start of the fall semester, with a grand reopening and ribbon-cutting set to take place during the centennial anniversary weekend in mid-September.

"Naturally, we grew more eager as the summer progressed to take up residence in the new and improved Griffith Fine Arts Building," said Dr. Gary Wurtz, dean of the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts. "It's the talk of the town! This summer, I took a group of about a dozen alumni on a private tour, and they were both thrilled and proud of what they saw."

The building was vacated in spring 2020 to allow for demolition followed by renovation and new construction over the following three years. The project involved renovations to Turner Auditorium. The state-of-the-art building also has two dance studios, two new theatres, recording studio, sound stage, audio and video editing rooms, an art gallery, multiple classrooms, rehearsal facilities, faculty offices and the offices of the College of Fine Arts dean. The facilities house the college's sound recording technology, filmmaking, theatre, dance and musical theatre programs.

SFA's education college joins national organization for educator preparation

SFA's James I. Perkins College of Education has joined the University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation Coalition, a national organization dedicated to supporting educator preparation programs to meet the needs of future pre-K-12 students.

The US PREP Coalition is an organization of universities that provides resources and guidance to educator preparation programs to prepare teacher candidates to be classroom ready from the very first day of their careers. It helps teachers develop the content knowledge and competency to meet the needs of all K-12 students, especially those who have been historically underserved, such as Black, Latino, Native American and/or economically disadvantaged students.

According to Dr. Jannah Nerren, chair of SFA's Department of Education Studies, the US PREP Coalition will provide $300,000 in grant funds; travel funds for faculty and staff to attend professional development events conducted by US PREP over the next four years; the support of a regional transformation specialist and a clinical coach; access to materials and learning resources; and opportunities to collaborate with a coalition of educator preparation programs across the country.

SFA receives Tree Campus Higher Education recognition

Tree Campus Higher Education logoSFA recently became a recognized member of Tree Campus Higher Education, which is an Arbor Day Foundation program that recognizes colleges and universities for promoting healthy trees and engaging faculty, students and staff in conservation efforts. Since 2008, the program has strived to establish and support thriving community forests across the country.

As a newly recognized campus, SFA joins over 400 universities in the U.S. in planting thousands of trees each year. In 2022, SFA students, faculty, staff and administrators contributed 950 volunteer hours planting, mulching, pruning and evaluating tree care and health on campus.

To receive the recognition, SFA met five Tree Campus Higher Education standards, including forming an advisory committee, developing a care plan, allocating funds to the program, observing Arbor Day and completing a service-learning project.

Survey shows high career placement rate, positive trends for SFA graduates

Nearly 90% of SFA's May 2022 graduating class reported positive career outcomes within six months of graduation, according to a class-specific survey conducted by the university's Center for Career and Professional Development.

The First Destination Survey is used to capture information from SFA's new graduates within their first six months after graduation. Specifically, it looks at information related to post-graduation next steps, including whether they are working, continuing education, joining the military or another option.

From SFA's results, 60% marked themselves as working, 29% are pursuing some form of continuing education and less than 1% had joined the military. Of those within the working category, the average annual salary reported by SFA alumni hired within six months of graduation was $56,309. For those hired within the same time span at an hourly rate, the average salary was $44,393.

Cross-disciplinary effort by SFA faculty and staff leads to creation of Parkinson's disease support group

Faculty and staff from several SFA programs worked together to create the Nacogdoches Parkinson's Support Group, which meets once a month at Christ Episcopal Church.

"There's a need for a Parkinson's disease support group in this area because the closest ones are in Tyler and Longview," said Deena Petersen, clinic director for SFA's Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders, who was instrumental in the group's creation. "Those with the disease will benefit from the support of others dealing with the same issues. We want spouses and loved ones to come and be a part of this because they also are affected."

The support group is the result of collaboration by faculty and staff from the James I. Perkins College of Education's Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership and the College of Liberal and Applied Arts' School of Social Work.

SFA launches '100,000 service hours for 100 years' centennial competition

SFA Centennial logoTo mark SFA's first 100 years, university students, faculty, staff and alumni are holding a friendly competition to see which group can complete the most service hours before SFA's Founders Day, Sept. 18.

The goal is for all four groups to earn a total of 100,000 service hours by that date. If they don't reach that goal, the competition will be extended to the end of the fall 2023 semester, said Dr. Hollie Smith, executive director of Student Life at SFA.

"We want to get all four groups involved in our centennial celebration, and the best way to do that is by giving back to the Nacogdoches community that has supported SFA for a century, as well as to the communities in which our alumni live now," Smith said.

Keep up with each group's total hours and log your own at