The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents has voted to affiliate with the University of Texas System.
Enhanced financial position by leveraging economies of scale, group purchasing, and access to the PUF.
Increased opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to participate in multi-institution collaborations, partnerships, and communities of practice with a state-wide impact.
Improved access, affordability, and success and expanded support services available to students.
Enhanced ability to retain, recruit and reward high-quality faculty and staff.
Increased enrollment at a sustainable pace.
Leverage the size, strength, and excellence of the UT System and its thirteen institutions to accelerate the time it takes to achieve integration.
Make all the benefits provided to PUF-eligible UT academic institutions available as soon as possible.
Minimize operational disruptions for students, faculty, and staff.
Communicate openly, honestly, and at a regular cadence with stakeholders.
Uphold and honor SFA's rich history, traditions, and culture.
All changes resulting from system affiliation that are mentioned below will only take place after full approval from the Texas Legislature. SFA will continue to function operationally as is until that time.
Will our name, logo, mascot or colors change?
The UT System respects and would support the university’s desire to protect all things Lumberjack, including the name of Stephen F. Austin.
Will any names on degrees change?
When will the presidential search begin? How will it work? Who will be involved?
The UT System uses an inclusive process to identify and recruit university presidents. The Chairman of the Board of Regents appoints a presidential search advisory committee composed of current and former regents along with representatives of the university’s faculty, staff, student and alumni and civic communities. The committee engages in an intensive review process, identifies candidates, interviews them, and recommends a slate of top candidates to the regents to interview and select. This longstanding process is prescribed in Regents’ Rules. In the case of a new presidential search at SFA, members of its Board of Regents would be included in the search process, along with the appointment of faculty, student, staff, alumni and local civic representatives.
Board of Regents
What will happen to the Board of Regents? Will meetings continue as scheduled?
The UT System Board of Regents will serve as the top administrative body once affiliation becomes effective. The SFA Board of Regents will remain in place until that time.
Will our new Board meet on campus? How will it be similar/different?
The Chancellor conducts an annual evaluation of each academic president and reports it each August to the UT System Board of Regents. Each fall, presidents provide the UT System an updated description of strategic goals and priorities for the year and identify the steps they will take to achieve them. Each spring, presidents provide a self-assessment which includes a description of progress made on these goals. This assessment, as well as key performance metrics (including undergraduate and graduate student profiles; persistence, retention, and graduation rates; degree and certificate production; faculty hiring; research expenditures; and financial status and operational efficiency data) are discussed., In areas that will benefit from more attention, the UT System works closely with the campus to provide support to achieve it.
Will any programs or departments get eliminated, merged or otherwise changed?
The six colleges of SFA (business; education; fine arts; forestry and agriculture; liberal and applied arts; and science and mathematics), represent a broad array of essential disciplines that enable students to explore many different critical fields. Several include signature programs that no other UT institution currently offers, and we find that very appealing. We appreciate the unique strengths that each UT institution offers. While we see immediate opportunities to expand SFA’s existing computer science, nursing, and education programs, University leadership would make their own assessment on the appropriate mix of academic program offerings to help drive enrollment and respond to workforce needs, and the UT System will provide support to enable the president to achieve those goals. The UT System is especially interested in helping SFA enhance enrollment growth and address the state’s pressing workforce needs.
Will any departments/divisions be outsourced (Audit, Custodial, Landscaping, etc.)?
No SFA operations will be transferred to UT System Administration. The UT System Administration exists to provide support and resources to each of its institutions.
How does this affect athletics funding?
Affiliation with the UT System provides opportunities for strategic funding and access to a deeper pool of funds to match potential private funding sources.
How does affiliation affect facilities?
Access to funds mentioned above will allow for a number of improvements, including enhancement of facilities. With the exception of the Naymola Basketball Performance Center, SFA Athletics hasn’t made major facility upgrades or builds since the current Homer Bryce Stadium press box was built in 2006. The field house hasn’t been upgraded since 1988, and the sports medicine and academic center constructed in 2004 is outdated and wasn’t constructed for current operations.
How does affiliation affect athletic salaries?
Affiliation with the UT System provides the potential to increase staff salaries across the university, including in the athletics department.
What does affiliation mean for the Purple Lights Fund?
The Purple Lights Fund will not be affected by the affiliation from a day-to-day standpoint. Since the PLF is not a separate entity, such as the SFA Foundation, it will continue to operate as normal through our current business accounting processes and procedures.
What does it mean for student-athlete scholarships?
System affiliation does not have any effect on student-athlete scholarships as they are managed within the athletics department operating budget. Affiliating with the UT System does provide athletics access to additional funding sources that could enhance additional scholarship awards to student-athletes based on meeting any stated requirements.
How will affiliation affect ticket costs?
Affiliation will not affect ticket costs. Ticket prices are set and maintained by the athletics department on an annual basis. Ticket prices are researched and analyzed prior to each season based on a variety of factors.
Will banking or other partnerships in the community change?
The UT System negotiates and executes systemwide depository agreements allowing UT institutions to utilize any contracted banking partner while benefiting from favorable pricing based on systemwide volumes. The System currently has master depository agreements with Bank of America, Frost Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. The master depository agreements extend through August 31, 2024 but may be extended until August 31, 2026. UT institutions benefit from aggressive pricing based on systemwide volumes. To the extent there is a need for UT institutions to use other banking institutions, this need is generally accommodated. The Office of Finance within System Administration manages collateral posted by the various banking partners to secure aggregate UT System deposits of public funds within these banks. If SFA were to join the UT System, we would suggest SFA enjoy the benefits of the System’s master banking agreements and related collateral management.
Will we keep using mySFA/Concur/Banner, etc.?
The UT System leverages its scale in IT contracts for the benefit of UT institutions. UT System sponsored software contracts include:
- Oracle Master Agreement, Oracle Database Agreement — paid by UT System $2.75 million for academic institutions.
- Microsoft agreements — paid by UT System - $3 million for academic institutions.
- Recent uplift to Microsoft A5 licensing (from the lower cost A3) — paid by UT System — $3 million for academic institutions.
- Internet 2 — Eduroam (paid by campuses) and Certificates (paid by UT System).
- CleanAddress — paid by campuses that opt in.
- VMware ELA — paid by campuses that opt in.
- Skillsoft — paid by campuses that opt in.
Does the system pay for any system level contracts or does each system institution pay a prorated portion of the contract?
The UT System pays for many of the system level contracts for academic institutions. See above.
Is a member institution required to participate in system level contracts?
Institutions are not required to participate in system level agreements but generally choose to opt in to benefit from the competitive pricing and/or financial support.
IT services offered to UT System institutions include:
- UT Share — ERP and related services (applications that plug into PeopleSoft). Paid by UT System - $28 million annually.
- Shared data center program — Arlington Regional Data Center (ARDC). Paid by UT System - $1.6 million annually.
- Wide area network — Institutions pay for their own connections but the rate is subsidized by $2 million annually from the UT System.
- Network Operation Center (at ARDC) — available to UT institutions at no cost.
- Intrusion Detection System — funded by UT Board of Regents at no cost to institutions - $4 million annually.
- Immutable backup service (currently being implemented) — Paid by UT System - $1 million.
How will this affect marketing efforts and student recruitment?
The UT System works with its institutions to ensure a sustainable and manageable rate of enrollment growth consistent with the institution’s aspirations and goals. As a university system, we are committed to meeting the educational needs of the state, which will require each institution to increase both enrollment numbers and degree attainment.
In addition to Promise Plus, we provide additional support by bringing together leaders and staff from across the UT System to discuss their recruitment, enrollment, and retention strategies. Across the entire UT System, we have experienced enrollment increases of more than 6% among undergraduate and graduate/professional students during a time when institutions across the nation experienced enrollment decreases and program closures.
System Transition Progress
May 18, 2023 Update
Dr. Steve Westbrook, 10th president of SFA, will retire. We appreciate his leadership during the affiliation evaluation process and his decades of service to the university.
Gina Oglesbee will step into the role of interim president until the UT System Board of Regents selects the 11th president. She will not be a candidate for the permanent position.
Since SFA is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a governance change requires the prior approval of SACSCOC's Board of Trustees.
Should SACSCOC approve the change in governance at its June 2023 meeting, the SFA Board of Regents and UT System selected July 1 as the target date for the transfer of management and control of SFA to the UT System Board of Regents. Though the target date is July 1, the actual date may fall between July 1 and July 28, depending on the timing of the approval of the UT System Board of Regents.
Under the new law, SFA will be "abolished" as an independent university on this date (or an alternative date determined by the UT System Board of Regents) and re-created as Stephen F. Austin State University, a member of The University of Texas System.
May 10, 2023 Update
Gov. Greg Abbott has signed Senate Bill 1055 into law making Stephen F. Austin State University officially part of The University of Texas System.
April 26, 2023 Update
The bill that authorizes SFA’s affiliation with The University of Texas System passed its final reading in the Texas House of Representatives by a unanimous vote today. Last week our bill was also passed unanimously by the Texas Senate. This completes the necessary legislative approvals needed for our affiliation. Now the bill heads to the Governor for signature.
The legislation that will enable our university’s affiliation with The University of Texas System has been filed in the Texas Legislature and will be working its way through the legislative process over the coming weeks.
Even while the enabling legislation works its way through the approval process, transition work has begun.
An Executive Transition Steering Committee was appointed by Dr. Westbrook and UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken. Provost and Executive VP Lorenzo Smith and VPFA Gina Oglesbee are the SFA members of that committee while Dr. Archie Holmes, UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Jonathan Pruitt, UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs, are the members from the system. This steering committee has since appointed an SFA/UT System Core Transition Support Team that is composed of various subject matter experts from both SFA and the UT System office. This SFA/UT System Core Transition Support Team will be meeting on a regular basis to enable a transition that is as seamless as possible and establish functional work groups to address specific transition items.
The working groups currently underway, along with the name of the SFA co-chair assigned to each, include:
- Academic Affairs Working Group, (Dr. Marc Guidry)
- Student Services Working Group, (Carrie Charley)
- Legislative/Governmental Relations Working Group, (Dr. Charlotte Sullivan)
- Fiscal Affairs Working Group, (Gina Oglesbee)
- Information Technology Working Group, (Mike Coffee)
- Personnel and Human Resources Working Group, (Judi Kruwell)
- Facilities Working Group, (John Branch)
- Business Operations and Administration Working Group, (Kay Johnson)
- Communications Working Group, (Graham Garner)
- Advancement Working Group, (Jill Still) and the
- Police Working Group.