SFA Regents Approve Fine Arts Expansion Plans, Dining Hall Renovation

An expansion of the Griffith Fine Arts Building is scheduled to begin soon at Stephen F. Austin State University. The SFA Board of Regents have approved a budget for the project of up to $50 million.

October 29, 2019 - In the first meeting of the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents since Dr. Scott Gordon was named SFA’s ninth president, approval was given to agenda items that will benefit students across campus, especially students in the College of Fine Arts and those who are ROTC cadets.

Griffith Fine Arts Expansion
Regents approved an increase in the budget for a planned expansion of the Griffith Fine Arts Building, which will accommodate the addition of the dance and cinematography programs in the facility. 

“In February 2019, the university completed a $116.3 million bond issue for projects that included the College of Fine Arts expansion, a basketball practice facility, a welcome center/one-stop shop, a new residence hall and a dining hall,” said Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration. “The original allocation for the fine arts expansion was $37 million, but the decision was made to include the School of Art’s filmmaking program, as well as the dance program, which is currently housed in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science.”

In order to accommodate the additional space, expanded scope and additional costs, a $50 million project budget was approved by regents. The project, which includes a renovation of Turner Auditorium and improved accessibility, is to be completed at a cost of $50 million or less.

Dining Hall
A major renovation of the dining hall in the Baker Pattillo Student Center will begin in April and will be funded through the university’s food service agreement with Aramark.

“The contract contains provisions for a financial commitment to support multiple infrastructure investments over the term of the agreement,” said Dr. Steve Westbrook, vice president for university affairs. “Aramark has agreed to increase their financial commitment by $4 million to fund the renovation to maintain the high-quality food service program our students expect.”

Regents approved the new contract, and the renovation should be completed prior to the fall 2020 semester.

ROTC Scholarships
New housing scholarships will be available to ROTC cadets as a result of action taken during Monday’s meeting of the Board of Regents.

SFA established its ROTC program in 1968, and the university has maintained an agreement with the U.S. government for support of the program for many years, according to Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA provost and vice president for academic affairs. 

“It is time to update that agreement, as well as a related amendment regarding the mobilization of an ROTC unit,” Bullard explained. “We wanted to take this opportunity to create new housing scholarships for ROTC cadets who receive U.S. Army Cadet Command Scholarships.”

According to Maj. James Attaway, chair of SFA’s Department of Military Science, with an Army scholarship paying for cadets’ tuition, and the SFA scholarship covering the cost of housing, the only remaining expense for the students will be their meal plans.

The SFA ROTC Battalion expects to enroll 16 new cadets for fiscal year 2021 who would be eligible for the housing scholarship. Ultimately, up to 30 housing scholarships could be awarded on an annual basis.

Patent Rights Release
Dr. Matibur Zamadar, assistant professor of chemistry at SFA, has developed novel chemotherapeutic compositions and methods that could benefit cancer patients, and SFA students have shadowed and assisted in the patent application process.

According to the university’s intellectual property policy, the university assists in securing patent protection for inventions arising from academic projects associated with university personnel.

“The potential invention was developed within the scope of Dr. Zamadar’s employment using university funds and facilities, and as a result, title to the potential invention belongs to the university,” Bullard said.

However, rather than committing university resources to pursuing a patenting and licensure of the potential invention, regents approved releasing the rights to Zamadar, but will retain a portion of net income arising from the invention.

Cole Stem Building
The Cole STEM Building was substantially complete in August 2018, and classes began in the fall 2018 semester. The STEM building project budget of $46.4 million was funded by tuition revenue bond proceeds. Investment earnings are expected to total nearly $920,000.

To recognize the total projected investment earnings in the STEM building project, regents approved an increase in the budget at a total not to exceed $47.3 million, the original budget level plus investment earnings.

The board approved multi-year grant awards, changes to course fees and policy revisions. Board members acknowledged the receipt of the audit services report and heard reports from each of the vice presidents, the Faculty Senate, the Student Government Association and President Gordon.

The next quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents is Jan. 26-28, 2020. For more information, visit sfasu.edu/regents.