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Story by Robbie Goodrich '82
Photos by Lizeth Garcia

Dr. William ArscottWhen art Professor William E. Arscott retires this year at the end of the spring semester, he will have taught 62 years at SFA. Of all the feats he could list as achievements during those years, including establishing a top-rated filmmaking program with accomplished graduates in the industry, he hopes to be remembered as someone who "cared about his students and taught them what was needed for a career in filmmaking or any other career in their later life."

As a strong advocate of the School of Art's filmmaking program, The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House and SFA Friends of the Visual Arts, Arscott has set an outstanding example for all as a devoted artist, teacher and generous contributor to SFA. As a result, former SFA President Dr. Steve Westbrook expressed his admiration for Arscott by naming the film studio sound stage in the Griffith Fine Arts Building the William E. Arscott Sound Stage to recognize his remarkable legacy. The sound stage was dedicated during the Griffith Fine Arts Building grand reopening last fall.

A sound stage is used to shoot movie scenes that can be recorded indoors with complete control of the environment, such as weather, light and sound. For example, sets, such as a living room, are constructed and installed within the sound stage.

Trained as a painter and ceramist, Arscott was originally hired in the fall of 1963 as an art instructor at Stephen F. Austin State College. In 1976, Arscott was asked to run SFA's new filmmaking program, a position he's held since that time. Arscott's legendary filmmaking program has turned out successful industry graduates, such as Derek Wayne Johnson, known for his documentary about Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, "40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic," narrated by Sylvester Stallone, and other films. Johnson joined the filmmaking faculty at SFA last summer.

"For longer than I've been alive, Professor Arscott has laid a solid foundation for the film program, which he built from the ground up," Johnson said. "I only hope to add to that foundation and keep his legacy alive."

Arscott's teaching abilities are reflected in the awards he received at SFA throughout the years, including being named a Regents Professor in 1984 and the SFA Alumni Association's Distinguished Professor in 1986. His favorite SFA memory is of teaching art appreciation.

One of his proudest moments came when the late Dr. Baker Pattillo, former SFA president, recognized Arscott for his 50 years of service to SFA, proclaiming Aug. 22, 2013, as William E. Arscott Day at SFA.

When asked to name his most successful students, Arscott replied there are "just too many, most of whom I don't even know" to list. "I consider success in life a person who is compassionate and tolerant of other people, religions and races," he said.