SFA University

July 30, 2020 - Registration is underway for fall classes in the Music Preparatory Division of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music.

The fall roster for youth includes lessons in piano, violin, cello, viola, voice, Music Theory Adventures and Piney Woods Youth Orchestra, among many others. Lessons may be available for other instruments upon request. Lessons begin Aug. 17. Music Prep also offers programs for adults in piano and strings.

As the world continues to struggle with the economic and emotional effects of a worldwide pandemic, music remains one of the best coping mechanisms for stress and uncertainty, according to Alba Madrid, the new director of Music Prep who took over the division in June.

“We understand that music provides an outlet to express a wide range of emotions which ultimately helps to enrich our lives in a number of ways,” Madrid said. “Children have the need to connect now more than ever, and what better way to connect with others than through music. I have witnessed firsthand, through my many years of teaching, the healthy relationships our students have with their friends in their music community. They share the same passion, interests and values.”

Because of the economic effects of COVID-19, lower tuition fees for private lessons and other programs will be offered this fall. Scholarships are available to students based on need and commitment.

“We are working to expand our scholarship funds through grants, donations and sponsorships to help families that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic,” Madrid said. Deadline to apply for a scholarship is Aug. 15.

Madrid said appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety protocols, including wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing and following sanitizing procedures, will be followed. Students, parents and teachers will have the flexibility to decide on lesson format: face to face, virtual or a hybrid structure.

A new String Project will be piloted in the spring. The nine public school districts with in Nacogdoches County and some surrounding districts will be invited to participate. String Project students will have the opportunity to learn to play a stringed instrument at a low tuition cost as part of an after school activity. The project will be grant and community funded.

Registration for private and group instruction can be completed online at sfamusicprep.com or by calling (936) 468-1291. Prices range from $20 to $180 per month, depending on frequency, type of lesson and lesson length.

The Music Prep House is located at 3028 Raguet St. Office hours are 1pm to 5pm Monday through Friday. Madrid can also be reached via email at madrida@sfasu.edu or musicprep@sfasu.edu. Parents can also find program information on Facebook and Instagram.

Fall class registration for music instruction through SFA’s Music Preparatory Division is underway. Lessons begin Aug. 17.

July 29, 2020 - Keeping the safety of their fellow students in mind when the campus opens this fall, five interior design seniors at Stephen F. Austin State University spent the summer working as interns for SFA’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness to collect data on classrooms and design safe learning environments for their classmates.

On June 8, Miriam Amador of Lufkin, April Cooper of Huntington, Osiel Mireles and Cristel Perez of Houston, and Brooke Ward of Dallas were tasked with taking measurements, inventorying and photographing all furniture and technological equipment, and documenting elements ranging from electrical outlets to floor, baseboard, wall and ceiling materials for nearly 400 rooms across campus, including auditoriums, gyms and laboratories.

“They had to assess every space that can possibly be used to teach a class,” said Sally Ann Swearingen, associate professor and internship coordinator for the interior design program at SFA.

The students are working through all their data to create floor plans for each SFA building to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by the first week of August. They’re also compiling spreadsheets with information to help faculty members know how many students are allowed in each learning space and how to arrange the furniture and technology in those spaces to meet physical distancing requirements.

The students’ finished floor plans, along with their proposed physical distancing furniture plans and occupant loads for each room and lab, will be posted on the Office of Institutional Effectiveness website. All faculty and staff will have full access to this site.

“This will be a great resource many people will be able to utilize even after the pandemic ends,” Swearingen said. “Everybody will have access to it, so faculty and staff, department chairs and deans will all know how each classroom should look.”

In return for their efforts, the interior design seniors are receiving a small stipend and credit for their interior design internship course.

Swearingen directed the students to approach this assignment as if they were completing a job for an interior design client.

“I believe in looking at a job to see how you can make others’ lives better,” Swearingen said. “This is a great way to illustrate to these students how to be resourceful and utilize their creative skills to assist their firm or client.”

The client for this project is John Calahan, director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at SFA.

“This has been a great group of students to work with,” Calahan said. “Their efforts are critical to the safe opening of the university in the fall. The data, analysis and plans they’ve developed set a new standard for information management regarding our academic spaces and will inform future decisions for the university.”

All five students have different strengths that contribute to the team, Cooper said.

“We have five different perspectives, so we’ve been able to eliminate any gaps in our COVID plan,” she said. “We were able to correct each other and prevent each other from missing something.”

One of the first needed strengths was proficiency in the Microsoft Teams application, which Amador provided. She helped team members use the tool to connect with each other and exchange large quantities of data, including photos of every piece of furniture and technological equipment encountered in each classroom. She also used the app to ensure her teammates uploaded complete information.

“Using Teams was key because we’re not all in the same location and we’re not online at the same time,” Amador said.

Amador and Ward led efforts to take the physical measurements of each room.

“We noted every door, every small nook, all the windows and electrical outlets,” Ward said. “We made sure electrical plans were accurate for the electrical team to come in later and create Zoom rooms.”

Cooper assessed the furniture in each room to help determine how it should be arranged and occupied for proper physical distancing among students in the fall.

Amador, Cooper and Ward uploaded digital copies of their measurements, drawings and notes in Microsoft Teams so Mireles and Perez could use computer-aided design software called AutoCAD to merge the information into floor plans for each room.

“We made the plans really simple to understand, even for someone who doesn’t know how to read floor plans,” Mireles said.

The interior design seniors have had to juggle jobs, other classes and commutes from out of town to complete this assignment. Cooper commutes from Huntington, Mireles commutes from Houston and Perez contributes remotely from Houston, where she’s working and taking two other courses.

Though the students knew each other from their junior year classes, this opportunity gave them the chance to learn from each other.

“It was great being able to work as a team even when we can’t be physically together,” Perez said. “That’s the challenge of COVID.”

Mireles and Perez transferred to SFA through the university’s interior design partnership with Houston Community College. They used Zoom to attend classes from Houston even before the pandemic.

“When we were in the Zoom classes, we all would see each other, but Cristel and I never would communicate with April or Brooke or Miriam,” Mireles said. “But this fall, I’ll feel comfortable texting them if I need help and vice versa.”

Swearingen said learning how to work with team members who have different schedules and live in different locations is good preparation for when these students graduate and begin working for global firms with offices in a variety of time zones.

“There are so many firms that have an office in London and another in Houston and another in New York,” she said. “We’re training them that this is how you work together.”

Swearingen added, “This group of students has done really well to brainstorm, talk among each other and work through issues and double-check each other. It takes a team effort.”

Perez said team members have been able to exchange different tips and tricks they picked up on their respective campuses.

“Osiel and I learned AutoCAD tricks from our HCC professors, while April, Brooke and Miriam had their own tricks from SFA professors,” Perez said. “We’ve picked the best of both worlds to apply in future projects.”

This internship also gives the interior design seniors experience — the ability to create COVID-19 plans for offices and workspaces — that more businesses will need as employees return to work during the pandemic.

“At the beginning, I just considered this a regular internship, but now, toward the end of it, I’m very proud of us,” Mireles said. “I feel like this is special for us because it reflects what’s going on in the real world. We can show potential employers our portfolio and tell them how we put our COVID plan together, and I think they’re going to be really impressed.”

The seniors said their fellow students should feel safer knowing SFA is meticulously following CDC guidelines while making preparations for the fall.

“We know what’s going on; we’re seeing it with our own eyes. We've been working many hours a week for the past two months to complete the project,” Ward said.

Perez added, “And we’re students, so other students know we care because we’re also attending classes here. We want to make it safe not just for us but for others, too.”

For more information on SFA’s reopening plans, visit sfasu.edu/fall2020.

Sally Ann Swearingen, far right, associate professor of interior design at Stephen F. Austin State University, assembled a team of five interior design seniors to help ensure safe learning environments for their fellow students when SFA reopens this fall. From left, Brooke Ward of Dallas, Cristel Perez and Osiel Mireles of Houston, April Cooper of Huntington and Miriam Amador of Lufkin spent the summer taking measurements, inventorying furniture and technological equipment, and documenting elements ranging from electrical outlets to floor, baseboard, wall and ceiling materials for nearly 400 rooms across campus to produce detailed floor plans for each SFA department and school. Their floor plans indicate how to arrange furniture to help ensure compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physical distancing guidelines. They also produced spreadsheets with data to guide faculty members on the number of students allowed in each learning environment. Photo by Robin Johnson

By Jo Gilmore, marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.

July 28, 2020 Nacogdoches — Two separate virtual programs will allow Stephen F. Austin State University students and their parents to experience firsthand the academic rigors and student engagement that make the Lumberjack experience unique among institutions of higher education.

The two programs, Virtual Saturday and the Lumberjack Family Experience, will provide parents the opportunity to engage in informative livestream sessions with campus faculty and staff and have their questions answered about SFA’s programs and instruction.

“The objective of our virtual programs is not only to provide parents a deeper look into their own students’ experiences in the classroom and on campus, but also to provide an outlet for parents to get the answers they need as we approach the fall semester,” said Erma Nieto Brecht, SFA’s executive director of enrollment management. “We want parents to understand that, regardless if courses are delivered face-to-face or through distance-learning, their students will still be receiving the quality SFA experience they expect, no matter how they choose to build their schedule. And there is no better way to understand that than to experience it firsthand.”

Virtual Saturday

Free to any interested party, Virtual Saturday is intended to give parents and their students an immersive look at a livestream classroom setting. The 50-minute Zoom session will mirror that of an actual full Zoom class.

“We know parents have a lot of questions, and we think the best way to show them what their child’s class will be like is to let them join one,” said Dr. Joyce Johnston, associate dean in the College of Liberal and Applied Arts and the director of SFA’s Division of Multidisciplinary Programs. “We want to emphasize that however faculty members deliver their classes, students’ educational experiences are second to none. Their faculty members are supported by an outstanding team in the Center for Teaching and Learning who provide us training, innovation and technological support to help ensure high-quality distance education for all Lumberjacks.”

Those interested in participating may choose from among six 50-minute Zoom classes conducted by faculty members from each of SFA’s six colleges.

“Our hope is for family members to come away with a greater understanding of how much our faculty members care about our students,” Johnston said. “We hope they experience what their students will — that distance learning can be dynamic, engaging, innovative and enjoyable. Our faculty and our CTL constantly work to improve the students’ experience in the classroom, even the virtual one. Parents who choose to send their child to SFA can rest assured that faculty members will connect with and support all students.”

Understanding not everyone may possess the necessary technology to attend, Virtual Saturday classes will be recorded and posted online at a future date.

Seven Virtual Saturday sessions will be held Saturday, August 1 — three at 10 a.m., three at 11 a.m. and one at noon.

To register for a Virtual Saturday session, visit sfasu.edu/info-for/parents/virtual-saturday.

Lumberjack Family Experience

Hosted by SFA’s Office of Orientation and Transition Programs, the Lumberjack Family Experience offers parents several opportunities to connect with campus representatives from the comfort of their own home.

The Lumberjack Family Experience focuses on three main areas: student engagement, safety and academics. It is designed to allow parents and students to learn about the entire university experience.

Parents, guardians and family members of an incoming student for fall 2020 are invited to attend. During the event, university representatives will provide information and answer questions regarding the upcoming in-person Jack Camp Orientation, and there also will be a mock virtual classroom experience.

The Lumberjack Family Experience is scheduled for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 5.

To register, visit sfasu.edu/orientation/first-year.

July 23, 2020 - While COVID-19 and Stephen F. Austin State University’s response to the pandemic were top concerns during the July quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents, actions taken were geared toward the future of the university.
Regents heard reports regarding the university’s plans to open campus for the fall semester and approved the budget for the upcoming academic year. 
“This is the most complicated budget process we’ve ever been through,” said Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration. “We started with a flat budget and then reduced revenue projections an additional 5%. Based on instructions state agencies received from the governor’s office, the university reduced an additional $1.6 million to provide a biennial reduction of $3.65 million.”
The university received CARES Act funding of approximately $11 million, with $5.3 million allocated to student financial relief.

“We have disbursed to students who were eligible during the spring, and remaining funds will be available to students this fall,” Gallant said.
While some of the CARES Act funding was used to cover the costs of refunds distributed to students for housing, meal plans, parking and other fees, $2.6 million was allocated to classroom upgrades to facilitate distance learning, according to Dr. Steve Bullard, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“Nearly 90 classrooms have been upgraded to support Zoom capabilities,” Bullard said. “They will function as lecture-style classrooms for students attending in person, and students joining the class via Zoom will see and hear the professor and be able to interact with the class.” 
According to Bullard, as of July 17, 51% of SFA classes were slated to be face to face, 17% were online and 28% were hybrid, so that students can access the course in either manner.
“Options for students will continue to advance in coming weeks, as we move more of our course sections to distance-related options,” he said.
Budget reductions also necessitated freezes on hiring and university travel, as well as furloughs for staff members. The university also introduced a voluntary separation incentive plan being offered to employees who are eligible to retire, which was approved by regents.
“This is a way to reduce our payroll and eventually realize savings,” Gallant said. “It’s a great opportunity for those employees who have reached retirement eligibility, and also will be beneficial to the university.”
Gallant said according to university records, 220 current employees are eligible to participate in the program, and 57 employees have applied. 
“The deadline is July 31, so we are likely to receive additional applications,” he said.
Regents heard an update regarding the renovation and addition to the Griffith Fine Arts Building and approved funding for a power-plant upgrade and associated utility infrastructure improvements at a cost not to exceed $2 million. They also approved roof replacement at the Norton Health and Physical Education Building.
Facility improvements being made at Johnson Coliseum have eliminated the need for a strength and conditioning room in a basement area of the building, which was approved by regents in 2018. Regents voted to return funding for the project, now totaling approximately $724,387, to the university’s designated fund balance.
Regents authorized SFA administrators to submit a legislative appropriations request to the Texas Legislature for capital funding to support the development of an interdisciplinary and applied sciences building, an agriculture and technology complex, and a special item request for programming funds to establish a center for applied research and rural innovation.
“These would be transformative for our campus and our region,” said Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president. “However, we understand the current economic conditions of Texas and see funding for these projects as a long shot during this legislative session. We know from prior experience that even in these difficult times, we should present our requests and priorities, so we have compiled this proposal to indicate that we are looking to the future needs of the state and how SFA can help to meet those needs.”
The agriculture and technology complex would be located at SFA’s Todd Agricultural Research Center, a 490-acre complex located on U.S. Highway 259.
“In addition to agricultural engineering and industrial engineering technology programs, the facility would allow for the expansion of programs in areas that could include advanced manufacturing and industrial supervision, as well as programs such as veterinary technology and veterinary nursing,” Gordon said. “The facility for interdisciplinary and applied sciences would be connected to our Forestry Building and would build on the synergies between programs. It will include offices and classrooms for subjects including agriculture, biology, environmental and geospatial sciences, and geology.” 
Regents approved the renewal of a five-year contract with EAB Global for the Navigate program, which includes a student success management platform and best-practice research. Regents also approved the use of quasi-endowment funds by the College of Liberal and Applied Arts to support the redesign of core curriculum courses.
“Merely adopting the latest textbooks does not mean the overall structure of an academic program is providing the integrated knowledge base a student should possess upon graduation,” said Dr. Brian Murphy, dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts. “Most students in a core course are not majors in the instructor’s discipline, and the aim of our redesign is to make a core course meaningful, interesting, and relevant at the current time and five years after the student graduates.”
Murphy said educators must adapt in order to teach the skill sets that are relevant in the marketplace.
“Our faculty members are adopting the pedagogical approaches that have been identified as facilitating this transition, such as experiential learning and gamification,” he said. 
Regents also approved funding for the purchase and replacement of computers and cloud software, as well as grant awards, changes in course fees and the online-only fee, and policy revisions.
Regents heard reports from SFA President Gordon; Dr. Andrew Lannen, chair of the Faculty Senate; and Christopher Moore, Student Government Association president. Members elected the individuals who serve in positions that report to the board and approved:

  • minutes from previous meetings
  • holiday schedule for 2020-21
  • annual audit plan and audit services report
  • and curriculum changes and low-producing programs.

To view recorded meetings of the SFA Board of Regents, visit sfasu.edu/regents.

July 23, 2020 - The appointments of three Stephen F. Austin State University faculty members to serve in interim leadership roles were approved by the Board of Regents during a regularly scheduled meeting today.

Matthew Beauregard, professor of mathematics and statistics, was named interim chair of the Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy. Beauregard holds a degree from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Arizona at Tucson. He joined the SFA faculty in 2014.

Kevin Langford, associate professor of biology and director of pre-health professions programs, is serving as interim chair of the Department of Biology. Langford joined the SFA faculty in 2002 and holds degrees from SFA and a doctoral degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Chay Runnels, associate professor of human sciences, was approved to serve as interim director of the School of Human Sciences. Runnels holds degrees from the University of Texas and a doctoral degree from SFA and joined the SFA faculty in 2005. She replaces Dr. Lynda Martin, whose retirement was approved by regents.

Also in the education college, Ginney Love Watkins, a master teacher in the Early Childhood Lab, was approved as a visiting assistant professor of human sciences. Kelly Finnerud, who previously served as a teacher aide and substitute teacher, was appointed to a teaching position at the Charter School. Ande Wallace also was approved as a Charter School teacher.

Elizabeth Gound’s promotion to assistant professor of elementary education was approved by regents, and Tonya Jeffery and Kevin Jones were approved as new assistant professors of education studies. Other approvals included Jill Pruett, clinical instructor of human sciences; Elaine Turner, assistant professor of human services and educational leadership; and Robyn Whitehead, assistant professor of kinesiology.

Appointments in the College of Sciences and Mathematics included Jeremy Becnel, a professor of mathematics and statistics, who was approved to serve as a professor of computer science. The appointment of Dipak Singh as an assistant professor of computer science also was approved.

Jordan Baker, Morgan Benton, Sherry Cheever and Ashley Goar were approved as clinical instructors of nursing.

New faculty members in the College of Fine Arts included Margaret Fay, visiting assistant professor of music, and James Taylor, lecturer of sound recording technology.

In the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, Christine Bishop and Ronald Rush were approved as assistant professors of social work. Gregory Smith is a lecturer for languages, cultures and communication, and Spencer Willardson is an assistant professor of government.

In Human Resources, John Wyatt was promoted from assistant director to associate director. The promotions of Lisa Balty and Deja Peterson from human resources representatives to senior human resources representatives were approved, as was the promotion of Kimberly Odems, from specialist III to senior human resources representative.

Tanner Boyd and Colleen Gallagher were approved to serve as assistant general counsels to the university. Deborah Rossler was approved as construction project manager in the Physical Plant.

The appointment of Marcus Walker as assistant football coach was approved by regents, as was the promotion of Aidan Pool, from athletic training graduate assistant to athletic trainer.

Faculty development leave was approved for Jane Long, mathematics and statistics, for the spring 2022 semester.

Regents approved the retirement of Gary Kronrad and his appointment as Professor Emeritus of forestry and environmental science. Other retirements approved included Neill Armstrong, secondary education; Larry Bishop, English and creative writing; Regina Brown and Cynthia McCarley, nursing; Deborah Cady and Robbie Steward, human services; Jere Jackson, Center for East Texas Studies; Marcus Madden, University Police Department; and Karren Price, government.

July 22, 2020 - A station completely free of seven major food allergens is one of several new features in an extensive, ongoing renovation to Stephen F. Austin State University’s Baker Pattillo Student Center dining hall.

Other major features include a dedicated “plant-forward” produce station to replace the former salad bar, a redesigned bakery allowing for confectionary pickup orders, a meat carvery station that will focus on lean meats, and the implementation of various physical distancing and health safety measures.

Construction began in April and is scheduled to be complete before the start of the fall semester.

“Because there are millions of people with food allergies, we knew we needed to better serve our students by having a more inclusive concept in the dining hall,” explained Carrie Charley, SFA’s director of auxiliary services. “In a commercial kitchen, it is nearly impossible to prevent cross-contamination. At this new allergen-aware station, all ingredients are kept separate from other dining hall menu items from the moment they arrive on the student center’s back dock until the moment the dish is served.”

The innovative meals offered through the station will be free of seven of the eight most common food allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, soy, wheat and shellfish. The eighth allergen, finfish, was kept to provide sufficient protein variety, Charley said.

“For the past several years, we’ve been tracking how many students have dietary restrictions, and that number has increased,” said Jill Hamilton, an Aramark senior specialist registered dietitian. “The allergen awareness station was added to make it easier for those with restrictions to identify offerings. Even if someone doesn’t have an allergy, I think they will still enjoy the station.”

While some dietary restrictions are based on a diner’s personal preferences, food allergies are not, and exposure to certain food products can be potentially dangerous to students with those allergies. Allergen-aware staff members will prepare dishes using dedicated kitchenware and utensils that have been thoroughly washed and sanitized between uses.

SFA has, for years, utilized allergen and nutritional information cards, which are placed near each dish at dining hall stations. The new dedicated station is the next step toward ensuring increased levels of student health awareness and dietary flexibility.

While universities nationwide are expanding their allergen-aware accommodations, SFA “might be one of the first to also use this new space as a teaching kitchen,” Charley said. “Once we are able to safely do so, we hope to host teaching tutorials and cooking competitions from this space in the evenings and during special events. We have special seating designed around the area that is movable and customizable for small groups.”

The concept of plant-forward offerings, which emphasizes “healthy plants at the center of the plate with a proportionally small quantity of animal protein,” Hamilton explained, is not a new one. SFA began adding plant-forward dishes two years ago, including such offerings as lentil “meat” loaf, grilled veggie skewers and cauliflower wings.

Several other stations in the dining hall also offer plant-forward dishes, but the newly revamped and expanded plant-forward produce station will provide a dedicated space for and expansion of these offerings. It also provides more flexible and diverse options for vegan and vegetarian diets, although every station also includes a vegan dish.

“I am super excited about the new produce station,” Charley said. “According to Dataessential, nearly 40% of Americans say they are eating less red meat and are seeking more vegetables. This trend is called ‘plant forward,’ putting plants (fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans) at the center of your plate. This renovation bursts open the doors to new possibilities for dining on our campus with a fresh perspective, fresh ingredients and a bright new landscape to enjoy meals together.”

Aside from expanding food options, the student center dining hall renovation also has updated food service procedures and modernized seating and dining aesthetics.

“The entrance to the dining hall has been expanded by 16 feet and provides a more open view into the entire facility,” Charley said. “There are three self-check-in stations and also pre-packaged to-go meals available.”

With the outbreak of COVID-19, additional safety and distancing measures were added to the renovation project, including the design of 25%, 50% and 75% capacity seating plans by architects Tipton Associates, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“With those plans, we will be able to adjust as needed before it is time to load the furniture in,” Charley said. “Most of the crowd control and occupancy management will be handled by the dining team, with the cooperation of our guests. The new check-in stations are self-swipe, and the dining team will serve food rather than having self-service, keeping things as contactless as possible. We now also have outdoor seating available facing the beautiful view down Vista Drive.”

Visual cues will be implemented throughout the hall to keep diners at a safe distance from each other. Sneeze guards have been a standard fixture in all dining halls, but extra guards were added to fill gaps.

“Face masks are required to be worn while in line and walking from station to station,” Charley added. “You also will see staff members in masks and frequently cleaning throughout the day. You might see that a station is temporarily closed during 15-minute intervals for deep cleaning and utensil replacement.”

For more information on fall 2020 dining options and updates, visit the “Dining” section on sfasu.edu/fall2020.

A digital rendering of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Baker Pattillo Student Center dining hall renovation project provides a glimpse of the facility’s modernized look. The project is scheduled to be complete before the start of the fall semester and includes plans for social distancing and increased student safety.

By Christine Broussard, marketing communications coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Contact: University Marketing Communications (936) 468-2605

July 17, 2020 Nacogdoches — Despite being in the midst of global change, Stephen F. Austin State University has announced significant enrollment increases in both of its summer semesters.

“SFA’s summer enrollment increases are a testament to a number of exciting things,” said Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president. “First and foremost, it’s an indication that now more than ever, people understand the value and importance of pursuing higher education. It also reaffirms our campus community’s excitement of and investment in our new Lumberjack Education Assistance Program, which was approved by the Board of Regents in April, and that our swift work to expand flexible learning options allowed students to take classes from anywhere, regardless of their situation.”

According to data collected through SFA’s Office of Institutional Research, summer I experienced an 8.8% increase in student enrollment, jumping from 3,741 in 2019 to 4,071 in 2020, or a difference of 330 students. Undergraduate headcount comprises the main difference, jumping 13% from last year’s summer I semester.

Summer II headcount is up by 10%, jumping from 3,109 in 2019 to 3,422 in 2020, or a difference of 313 students. Undergraduate and graduate headcount totals both increased for summer II, with undergraduate increasing by 10% and graduate by 11%.

“Expanding our flexible learning options has clearly resonated with students who still seek to learn in a rapidly changing world,” said Gordon. “Also, it is exciting that many SFA employees and their family members are taking advantage of LEAP because this helps promote our Strategic Plan’s goal by attracting and supporting high-quality faculty and staff.”

For summer I, the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture reported the highest overall percentage increase at 48%, or an addition of 93 students. Summer I credit hours also increased by 7.8% overall, with the largest volume credit hour increase in undergraduate sciences and mathematics.

For summer II, the College of Sciences and Mathematics reported the highest overall headcount increase at 41%, or an addition of 169 students. Summer II credit hours increased by approximately 10%, with the largest volume credit hour increase in undergraduate sciences and mathematics.

For additional enrollment data, visit sfasu.edu/ir.

By Christine Broussard, marketing communications coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University.

J.R. Florez, an employee with Stephen F. Austin State University’s Residence Life Department, mists a room in Steen Hall with a hypochlorous acid, a disinfecting compound the custodial staff says is safer and more effective than bleach. All residence hall rooms have been treated with the disinfectant and will have been treated twice when students return to campus in the fall.

July 3, 2020 Nacogdoches — Residence halls at Stephen F. Austin State University will open to students for the fall 2020 semester but with a sea change of new safety measures that will be continually evaluated as the global pandemic evolves.

Residence Life Department staff members have implemented extreme alterations to traditional housing upkeep in an effort to provide the safest possible college residential experience for returning students this August. These alterations include a wide array of increased sanitation measures at the 11 housing facilities available to students for the fall.

Housing also continues to be offered during the summer term, which has allowed SFA employees to evaluate and update sanitization effectiveness and communication best practices. Residence Life is currently taking applications for summer II housing.

“We are excited to welcome our students back home,” said Shea Roll, assistant director of SFA’s Residence Life. “We are connecting with students through virtual programming and social distancing events. Last week, we had an event with water balloons filled with soap, water and washable paint that the students who are on campus this summer loved! More than ever, community and connection is important to us in our halls.”

Key highlights of the new safety measurements include:

  • Each residence hall will have its own full-time custodial staff members who will clean common restrooms and other high-traffic common areas during the day and at night Monday through Friday. A limited number of full-time custodians will disinfect common restrooms and high-traffic areas and clean where needed on weekends.
  • A full-time staff member is available seven days a week from 4 p.m. to midnight to provide assistance when requested through the University Police Department.
  • Seating will be reduced in all Residence Hall common spaces, and use of community areas like kitchens will be limited.
  • Residence halls are not open to the public. Visitation privileges have been amended to allow no more than two additional people in a room or suite at any given time. In addition, both roommates have to agree to this visitation policy before guests may visit.
  • All student and professional staff members are required to wear masks. Hand sanitizer stations will be set up, and staff member desks have plastic protectors so they may safely answer resident questions.
  • Each hall has a unique 24/7 phone number residents may call if they need anything, from accidentally locking themselves out of their room to reporting signs of illness. They will always have access to a student and professional staff member on call.
  • Roommate agreements are amended to include questions about physical distancing in the rooms, sharing items, visitors and wearing masks. Residence Life staff members want to ensure students are communicating their needs to each other on day one, so these agreements help set the tone for expectations within their shared space.
  • The university also will offer single bedrooms as they become available to those currently on a waitlist for these rooms.
  • A plan also has been formed for students who might become sick, with an immediate protocol for isolation, testing and contact tracing.

Residence Hall sanitization has increased in frequency and potency. Staff members use a GenEon cleaning and disinfecting system containing a hypochlorous solution, a powerhouse cleaning system SFA makes on site at the rate of five gallons per hour.

“This solution, unlike bleach and harsh disinfectants, is safe and a non-irritant. If it gets on your skin or in your eyes, it does not burn,” explained Frank Ronzello, SFA custodial supervisor III. “Even if it is accidently ingested, it is completely harmless. It requires no PPE. It is 70 to 80 times more efficient at killing microbial pathogens than bleach.”

Hypochlorous acid also is used on food and in food service sanitation, as well as in wound care and eye care products, he added.

“We purchased the hypochlorous acid system two years ago to treat buildings if there was a flu outbreak or any other type of airborne illnesses and to treat areas with mold or mildew issues,” Roll said. “The ability to produce hypochlorous acid is something completely unique to SFA and really shows our commitment to safety. While other universities were busy purchasing hypochlorous acid, we were already producing our own.”

Custodial staff members have been using the cleaning compound in all housing facilities since the outbreak of COVID-19 to treat all high-touch-point areas before and after students come to campus.

“We also have treated every vacant room prior to our custodial employees entering the rooms to perform their summer cleaning and disinfecting,” Roll said. “We also will treat rooms after any camps and summer school and use it to treat all high-point-touch areas when students return in the fall.”

The university also announced it would be lifting the on-campus living requirement that stated incoming freshman or underclassmen with less than 60 credit hours must live in campus residence halls.

Additionally, the contract cancellation deadline was extended to midnight July 12.  Any cancellations received by that time will be refunded.

“We recognize that in this time, students may be more comfortable not living in a residence hall environment, so we want to be as considerate and as flexible as possible,” Roll said.

While prevention and regular cleaning are key, SFA employees have established staunch protocols should a case of COVID-19 be reported on campus.

“We have worked closely with SFA’s Health Services and have a plan for students who might become sick, with an immediate protocol for isolation, testing and contact tracing. We also would deliver meals to their door. A Residence Life staff member would personally call them twice daily to check on how they are doing, and the Health Clinic would hold Zoom appointments,” Roll said. “We offer Zoom counseling services to these students as well, because at no point do we want them to feel disconnected from their SFA community during isolation. The rooms we have set aside have goody bags with Gatorade, snacks and get well notes along with campus resource numbers. Our goal is to make them as comfortable as possible.”

The current move-in calendar for the fall semester is Aug. 13 through 23. Students must sign up for a two-hour move-in slot and are allowed to bring two individuals to help them with the move.

Students can access the move-in sign up through my mySFA Residence Life tab. Move-in sign up will open at noon July 9 and will remain open through Aug. 23. Students must have two emergency contacts listed in Banner prior to signing up, which can be completed through mySFA by selecting “Update Emergency Contact” on the Home tab.

“They also can change their move-in time up to 24 hours before it occurs to allow as much flexibility as possible; however, we are limiting the number of students allowed to sign up per hall, per shift to allow for social distancing,” Roll said. “When they arrive, they will receive a check-in packet with their key, student ID, helpful tips on how to stay safe on campus and instructions on how to complete an online inspection of their room so we can address any concerns they have right away.

“This one-stop move in will allow for flexibility and social distancing beginning as soon as they walk in the door,” she added. “They also will meet their community assistant, who is an upperclassmen mentor living on their floor to help them with whatever they need and to connect them with the SFA community.”

First-year students attending Jack Camp Orientation, which will be held on campus Aug. 16 through 19, will be given priority to pick move-in shifts.

Currently, approximately 3,500 students have committed to living on campus in the fall.

July 3, 2020 - Mirroring state and national trends to streamline admission procedures in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, Stephen F. Austin State University’s Office of Admissions has announced it will begin test-optional admissions for all 2021 terms.
This decision was prompted by the cancellation of SAT and ACT exam administration as testing centers across the state struggle to accommodate test participants due to required social distancing standards.
“High school seniors continue to experience significant restrictions regarding in-person testing opportunities and challenges with virtual testing,” said Erma Nieto Brecht, SFA’s executive director of enrollment management. “Because of this, students hoping to enter SFA in 2021 will not have to worry about having a standardized test score to apply for admission.”
While the test score requirement is lifted for the admission process, students who were able to take the SAT or ACT are encouraged to submit those scores with their ApplyTexas application as they may be needed in the scholarship review process.
“Submission of tests scores will not create any unfair advantage or disadvantage during the admission review for those students who provide them,” Nieto Brecht said. “We still want to encourage students to take an upcoming ACT/SAT test, if possible, or submit an existing test score, as the ACT/SAT may be required and utilized for scholarship review.”
For more information, visit sfasu.edu/freshman.

June 30, 2020 - The Wildlife Society, an international professional organization of leaders in wildlife science, named the Stephen F. Austin State University student chapter as its national 2020 Student Chapter of the Year.

The annual award recognizes exceptional achievements by student chapters in the promotion of professional standards, outreach and education, as well as advocacy for conservation policy decisions.
“To be recognized across the nation is a huge compliment to our officers and students,” said Jake Hill, forest wildlife management major and president of the SFA student chapter of The Wildlife Society. “It’s a testament to the quality of our college, our forest wildlife program and the university itself.”
Earlier this year the chapter received statewide recognition when it was named Student Chapter of the Year by the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society.
Hill said during the past year the student chapter focused on developing its student membership as active wildlife professionals.
One of the chapter’s most public initiatives was the development of a policy program to advocate for the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would make supplemental funds available to states for the management of wildlife most in need of conservation. These efforts included writing letters and conducting education campaigns, communicating with state representatives and partnering with other conservation organizations to advance the bill.
In addition, the chapter amplified partnerships with other conservation organizations, such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the National Wild Turkey Federation and other smaller nongovernmental organizations.
This spring, the chapter completed a wetland restoration project with Conservation Equity Partners, a local SFA alumni-owned environmental consulting firm. Through this partnership, the chapter planted more than 5,000 trees and gave away approximately 10,000 trees to the public.
“The students involved with the SFA student chapter of The Wildlife Society are outstanding ambassadors for SFA and are well known for their willingness to serve the profession and the community,” said Dr. Hans Williams, dean of SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.
The SFA chapter also donated a portion of its annual fundraising proceeds to assist a newly formed student chapter of The Wildlife Society at another Texas university.
“This award recognizes the hard work of the highly motivated and professional students we have in our program,” said Dr. Daniel Scognamillo, associate professor of forest wildlife management and faculty advisor for the SFA student chapter of The Wildlife Society.
Winning chapters receive a plaque, as well as a $1,000 travel grant to attend the annual Wildlife Society Conference. The name of the chapter also will be added to a permanent plaque on display at The Wildlife Society’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. The SFA student chapter will be recognized at the national conference held virtually in September. 
To learn more about the SFA student chapter of The Wildlife Society, its mission and current initiatives, email sfasuthewildlifesociety@gmail.com.

Story by Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. Contact information: (936) 468-1185 or fullersa@sfasu.edu.

The Wildlife Society, an international professional organization of leaders in wildlife science, named the Stephen F. Austin State University student chapter of The Wildlife Society as its national 2020 Student Chapter of the Year. The annual award recognizes exceptional achievements by student chapters in the promotion of professional standards, outreach and education, as well as advocacy for conservation policy decisions. Pictured is the SFA student chapter at the statewide Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society meeting held earlier this year in Corpus Christi. The SFA student chapter also was named Student Chapter of the Year by the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society.