SFA University


Stephen F. Austin State University’s horticulture program will host an inaugural plant fair and open house from 5 to 8 p.m. May 3 and 10 a.m. to noon May 4 at the SFA Plantery, located at 1924 Wilson Drive. The event will feature family friendly activities, including plant identification and tea tasting. Pictured, junior horticulture major Jevon Richeson waters plants in the SFA Plantery.

April 19, 2019 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s horticulture program will host an inaugural plant fair and open house from 5 to 8 p.m. May 3 and 10 a.m. to noon May 4 at the SFA Plantery, located at 1924 Wilson Drive.

The event will feature plants for purchase and educational activities, as well as information regarding how to grow your plants.

“Attendees will experience the floral aromas and vibrant colors of flowers in full bloom at the nursery, greenhouse and garden,” said Stephanie Stevens, a senior mass communication major.

The plant fair is family friendly and will include a photo booth and plant identification, planting, and tea-tasting stations.

“The event’s purpose is to showcase our horticulture program and help attendees cultivate a love for plants,” said Dr. Jared Barnes, assistant professor of horticulture at SFA. “We want to show off our student’s hard work in the greenhouses, as well as all of the opportunities offered through SFA’s agriculture department.”

Plants available for purchase include edibles, such as tomatoes, lettuce and basil, as well as summer annuals, including vinca, zinnia and angelonia. All proceeds support future educational projects in the SFA horticulture program and Horticulture Club.

In addition to this event, Barnes said the horticulture program offers garden volunteer opportunities for the community and work-study opportunities for SFA students. Fresh, student-grown, chemical-free produce also is sold at the SFA Plantery every Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’d love to help answer any gardening questions guests have and hope this event inspires a love for the Earth and everything on it,” Barnes added.

For more information, contact Barnes at (936) 468-7850 or barnesj@sfasu.edu. The community also may learn more about the horticulture program by visiting HorticultureIsAwesome.com/the-plantery or following @SfaHorticulture on Instagram.

April 18, 2019 - Stephen F. Austin State University music composition major Jesse Edwards has garnered another award in a prestigious national competition for one of his original orchestral scores.

For the third year, The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) conducted a nationwide search to name the three winners in the PYO Young Composers Competition. Edwards, a Tyler senior, earned second place for his piece “Saturday Afternoon.” This recent recognition adds to the ever-growing list of accolades Edwards has amassed.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by such an amazing ensemble,” Edwards said. “It’s especially exciting for me to be able to share my music with a youth orchestra – the next generation of great musicians.”

Edwards studies with Dr. Stephen Lias, professor of composition at SFA, who described Edwards’ most recent honor as “well-deserved.”

“Jesse is one of those students I never have to push because his hunger for personal and creative growth is so strong,” Lias said. “He has really helped hold the bar high for his colleagues.

“Composers build their reputation by winning competitions,” he added. “The earlier in their career they start doing this, the better for them. So having this on his resume will give Jesse considerable credibility and gravitas as he seeks commissions and applies to graduate programs.”

“Saturday Afternoon” was inspired by one of Edwards’ visits to New York City.

“When my wife lived in New York City, before we were married, I would go up to visit as much as I could,” he said. “We never had very much time together – sometimes just a weekend – so it became a sort of challenge to see how many things we could fit in a day. ‘Saturday Afternoon’ follows the adventures of one such day on a weekend trip during the winter of 2016.”

An internationally performed composer of rising acclaim, Edwards’ newest work, “Mint Chic,” was recently performed at the Alba International Music Festival, in Alba, Italy, by SOLI Chamber Ensemble. Edwards has worked with SFA’s Orchestra of the Pines, Starks Sound, and film director Adam Rothstein to create what has been noted as "accessible," “well spoken," and "straightforward" by Italian composer/educator Ferdinando Nazzaro. His music has been performed by the Lemberg Sinfonietta (Lviv, Ukraine), the Phoenix Ensemble (Ukraine), the Hobart Wind Symphony (Tasmania) and by high school and university choirs and bands throughout East Texas.

Lias noted that SFA’s reputation as an institution that provides a quality fine arts education bodes well for the university as it recruits art, music and theatre students.

“The fact that SFA can attract students of Jesse’s quality and nurture their development in a way that bears fruit like this is a testament to the entire College of Fine Arts,” Lias said. “Jesse has collaborated with both the theatre and art programs scoring plays and movies and has spent a semester studying abroad at our partner institution in Hobart, Australia. Although Jesse would have succeeded anywhere, SFA has been an excellent fit and provided him exactly the opportunities he needed to grow into the composer he is today.”

Following graduation in May, Edwards plans to pursue a master’s degree in music composition.

“I’m just looking forward to even more future opportunities like this one that allow me to spread a little more joy and beauty in a world that needs it,” he said.

For more information on Edwards’ music, recordings and videos, visit jesseedwardsmusic.com

A sing-along edition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday, April 26, at The Cole Art Center at The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

April 16, 2019 - A new version of the award-winning film “Bohemian Rhapsody” is coming to The Cole Art Center at The Old Opera House.

A new sing-along edition of the movie will be shown in a free, one-night screening, hosted by the Friends of the Visual Arts at Stephen F. Austin State University, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 26, in SFA’s historic downtown art center.

In this version of the movie, lyrics appear on the screen to help moviegoers add their own voices to Queen’s performances of favorite songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“We’re bringing this film to the gallery at the request of our students and some regular patrons,” said Alisa Steed, events coordinator for SFA art galleries. “We hope everyone comes ready to sing!”

“Bohemian Rhapsody” celebrates the music of legendary rock band Queen and their extraordinary lead singer, Freddie Mercury, as portrayed by actor Rami Malek. The film, which was directed by Bryan Singer, received 16 major nominations in 2019 and won nine awards, among them Academy Awards for Best Picture and for Actor in a Leading Role for Malek; Screen Actors Guild performance awards to Malik and the entire cast; and Golden Globe Awards to Malik and for Best Motion Picture.

The film is rated Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language. Run time is 134 minutes.

This special screening is sponsored in part by William Arscott, Nacogdoches Film Festival, Karon Gillespie, Mike Mollot, David Kulhavy, John and Kristen Heath, Galleria Z, Jill Carrington, Jean Stephens, Jim and Mary Neal, Richard Orton, Nacogdoches Junior Forum and Main Street Nacogdoches.

The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information, call (936) 468-1131.


SFA heavy equipment operator Randy Holland assists artist Joe Barrington in delivering Barrington’s “Sock Monkey” sculpture as one of the first installations of the 2019-21 Sculpture For All exhibition in Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden on the SFA campus.

April 11, 2019 Nacogdoches, Texas – Continuing to make art bloom throughout the gardens on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University, Sculpture For All 2019-2021 will open with a public reception at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden.

Sculpture For All is a biennial outdoor exhibition and competition in the form of a joint partnership project that brings together faculty, staff and students from the SFA School of Art and the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

This year’s opening coincides with International Sculpture Day, according to Jeffery Brewer, assistant professor of art (sculpture) at SFA.

“This outdoor artistic endeavor seeks to expose SFA students and faculty members to art they might not otherwise see while bringing national recognition and publicity to SFA,” according to Brewer.

This year’s competition was juried by Robbie Barber, associate professor of art (sculpture and 3-D design) at Baylor University. The exhibition will showcase the work of eight artists, including Barber.


Artist Teresa Lind’s “The Farmer” is now part of SFA’s permanent collection of Sculpture For All art.

“It’s an all-star cast of Texas sculptors and will make for a fabulous show,” Brewer said.

Along with Barber, returning artists include Joe Barrington, Luke Sides, Christopher Thomson, Daniel Hunt, Russ Connell, Dewane Hughes and Kurt Dyrhaug. The exhibition also includes the work of newcomer Michelle O’Michael of Houston.

Barber received his B.F.A. in sculpture from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, in 1987, and his M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Arizona in 1991. He also studied in Cortona, Italy, through the University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program. In 1991, Barber was awarded a yearlong residency at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program in Roswell, New Mexico. After returning to North Carolina in 1992, he received a Southern Arts Federation/NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship in Sculpture and a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship, both in 1993. In 1994, Barber moved to Wichita Falls to teach Sculpture and Metalsmithing at Midwestern State University. He left in 2000 to teach at Baylor University in Waco where he is currently associate professor of sculpture.

In 2007, Barber was a founding member of the Texas Atomic Iron Commission, which is comprised of sculpture educators dedicated to the dissemination of iron casting as an approach to art making. Through this organization, he has presented workshops, participated in iron pours throughout Texas and Alabama, and he has been invited to Keen Foundry Invitational Iron Casting Symposiums in Houston. He has exhibited widely throughout the United States, including exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Grace Museum in Abilene, Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey, and at Redbud Gallery in Houston.

With a donation from the Four Seasons Garden Club of Nacogdoches, SFA has purchased last year’s people’s choice winner, “The Farmer” by Teresa Lind, making it the third in SFA’s permanent collection of Sculpture For All art.

For more information about Sculpture For All, call (936) 468-4404 or email sculptureforall@sfasu.edu.


Stephen F. Austin State University faculty members Justin Pelham, clinical instructor; Dr. Chay Runnels, hospitality administration program coordinator and associate professor; Dr. Donna Fickes, clinical instructor; and Todd Barrios, chef instructor; were instrumental in creating the Lumberjack Express, a mobile food lab, which offers service Tuesdays and Thursdays.

April 10, 2019 Nacogdoches — It’s big. It’s purple. It’s the Lumberjack Express. This spring Stephen F. Austin State University rolled out its newest endeavor — the Lumberjack Express mobile food lab.

As the only one of its kind in Texas, this learning laboratory provides students in the School of Human Sciences a taste of the real world.

“There are only a few food trucks nationally that are utilized as an academic laboratory,” said Dr. Lynda Martin, director of SFA’s School of Human Sciences. “It has been so exciting watching the students make the Lumberjack Express their own and seeing how the campus community has responded to this new learning experience.”

Four faculty members from the School of Human Sciences were instrumental in bringing the Lumberjack Express to campus: Dr. Chay Runnels, hospitality administration program coordinator and associate professor; Dr. Donna Fickes, clinical instructor; Todd Barrios, chef instructor; and Justin Pelham, clinical instructor.

In recognition of their work, they were recently awarded a Bright Spot award by the SFA Faculty Senate, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the SFA vice presidents.

While attending the National Restaurant Association’s annual show a few years ago in Illinois, Runnels noticed a food truck with a university logo on it. This sighting sparked an idea.

“We began researching the possibility of a mobile food lab that would be a true learning laboratory. From the beginning, we had a lot of support from administration,” Runnels said.

Soon, wheels started turning — literally, as faculty members and students worked to bring the food truck trend to campus.

“We had many meetings. We worked with an undergraduate student to develop a business plan, and we researched other food trucks and institutions that had something similar to what we were proposing,” Runnels said. “It’s been a learning experience for us all.”

Once SFA’s Board of Regents approved the purchase of the mobile food lab in January 2018, Fickes began coordinating the development effort. In addition to teaching, Fickes contacted people in the industry and worked with faculty members to ensure the new mobile food lab would meet program needs.

Barrios worked on creating the kitchen’s layout, as well as selecting the kitchen utensils. Pelham represented the food, nutrition and dietetics program in helping select the menu items.

A mobile food management course was developed that focuses on the food truck industry and directly ties in with the Lumberjack Express. Students in other areas, such as event planning, also have the opportunity to use the Lumberjack Express for coursework.

“Our goal is to provide students a timely, transformational learning experience. The food truck trend has grown into a food truck culture,” Fickes said. “It is a viable way for someone to enter the hospitality industry with fewer expenses and immediate return on investment. Providing our students an environment where they can learn through trial and error puts them a step ahead of their competition.” 

Service at the Lumberjack Express began in February. Much like the Culinary Café, the Lumberjack Express is a student-run operation. Hospitality majors, under the direction of Barrios, prepare the meals every Tuesday and Thursday. The cuisine is based on various themes, such as Latin, Texas barbecue, Asian, Creole and Mediterranean. Music streaming from the Lumberjack Express and smiling faces inside the truck greet customers picking up their food. 

“The students love working on Lumberjack Express and have taken immediate ownership of it,” Fickes said. “Guests have been very positive about student interactions, and they have loved the street food creations we are serving.”

The Lumberjack Express also will be utilized at outreach and recruiting events, such as career and college fairs and Showcase Saturday. Pelham also plans on using the lab for cooking demonstrations in the community during the Cooking Matters Program his students host annually.

To learn more about the Lumberjack Express and to purchase tickets, visit sfasu.edu/lumberjackexpress. 

By Kasi Dickerson, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.


SFA photography students LaShauna Bell, Ashley Spitzmiller and Yared Jasso pose for their own portrait during a lull in the action at Help-Portrait day at Nacogdoches HOPE.

April 9, 2019 - Photography students from the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art recently put their skills to work for a good cause by taking part in a national service event called Help-Portrait.

Students set up a mobile lighting studio at Nacogdoches HOPE, a local food pantry, and made portraits for clients who might not otherwise have been able to afford professional quality photographs. Students also edited and printed the portraits on site,so that people were able to take home several finished prints from each session.

“I love doing this project,” said Amanda Breitbach, assistant professor of art at SFA. “The students learn from working with new people and making portraits in a new setting, and they also learn that they can use their skills in photography to give back to their community.”

Breitbach’s students in the photographic lighting class have spent this semester learning the technical and creative aspects of lighting using studio strobes, flash and ambient light. The Help-Portrait project gave them the opportunity to practice those skills in a real-world setting, Breitbach said.

“I’m so glad we did this,” said student Cameron Sweet as he and colleagues packed up their gear at the end of the day.


Nacogdoches HOPE treasurer Kathy Griffin and her poodle, Babette, get their photo taken during the Help-Portrait event. Getting the correct exposure for a black dog against a black background was a technical challenge.

“Our clients and volunteers were absolutely delighted with their pictures,” said Nacogdoches HOPE director Denise Lee. “It was a joyful day for me to observe individuals and families getting such beautiful portraits when I am certain they could not afford such a luxury. Everyone left with smiles on their faces.”

Breitbach said she hopes to make the project an annual event for SFA photography students.

Photographer Jeremy Cowart founded Help-Portrait in 2008 with the mission of empowering photographers and others to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their communities. Help-Portrait events take place each year in communities across the country.

Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business has successfully achieved the extension of its business program accreditation by the prestigious AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. Globally, fewer than 5% of all business colleges have achieved accreditation by AACSB, placing the college in an elite category of business colleges worldwide.April 5, 2019 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business has successfully achieved the extension of its business program accreditation by the prestigious AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

Globally, fewer than 5% of business colleges have achieved accreditation by AACSB, which places SFA’s Rusche College of Business in an elite category of business colleges worldwide.

“Maintaining AACSB accreditation affirms what we already know, which is our college of business is among the very best, and our students can successfully compete anywhere, with anyone,” said Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the college.  

SFA’s Rusche College of Business offers 12 majors, housed in four departments, in areas such as accounting, business communication and corporate education, management, marketing, sports business, banking, economics and finance.

Faculty members strive to advance the college’s learn, launch, lead mission by providing students with real-world experiences. In the Department of Economics and Finance, for example, students manage an investment portfolio of $600,000. Management and marketing students compete and place in the American Advertising Federation-Houston Student Conference and Competition, where they create an advertising campaign for a real client. Industry professionals routinely serve as guest speakers in classes to provide insight for students.

“I am so proud of the excellent education our faculty and staff provide our students,” Bisping said. “This extension of our accreditation is evidence that their efforts have been a wonderful success and that we are poised to continue to do great things.”

The college also offers the Career Success Passport scholarship program, where students attend workshops to sharpen their skills designed to help them launch successful careers, all while earning points for scholarships. Annually, the college awards approximately $375,000 in scholarship funds.

According to the AACSB guidelines, impact, engagement and innovation are essential to achieving and maintaining accreditation. To receive accreditation, a college of business must have a positive impact on both students and industry, its faculty and students must be engaged with industry, and it must successfully innovate in a continuous improvement process. 

“We are successfully meeting these requirements as we work to help our students learn exceptionally well, launch successful careers and ultimately become leaders in their chosen career fields,” Bisping said. “We have the honor and privilege to work to help students have great lives, and it is wonderful to know that we are having such success in advancing this mission.”

By Kasi Dickerson, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University. 

April 4, 2019 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics will host the fifth annual Women in STEM Luncheon and Style Show at noon Tuesday, April 9, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom.

Doors open at 11 a.m. for a gallery walk poster presentation highlighting STEM research accomplishments by SFA students and faculty.

The luncheon and style show is a scholarship fundraising event benefiting students committed to the advancement of women pursuing STEM degrees at SFA.

“Women’s experiences — along with men’s — should inform and guide the direction of STEM innovation,” said Dr. Kimberly M. Childs, dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. “We simply cannot afford to ignore or miss the perspectives of half the population in future engineering and technical design.”

Former student Megan Jenkins Turner will speak during the luncheon. A recipient of the Women in STEM Scholarship in 2015, the first year funds were awarded, she is now a student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. Turner will discuss her experiences as a woman in STEM, how women in these fields have had an impact on her journey in medicine, and what can be done to assist future generations of women pursuing STEM careers.

“There is strength in collaboration, community and mentorship,” Turner said. “As a woman in STEM, these are just a few of the areas I have been able to excel in due to the many women who led by example in STEM professions before me.”

A style show will follow the luncheon with selected men escorting female role models to highlight the importance of having men support women in STEM disciplines. Fashions are provided by The Town House and Miller’s Point.

The event is presented by Lockheed Martin.

The deadline for reservations is Monday, April 8. Tickets are $40 each or $300 for a table of eight. For more information or to make a reservation, call (936) 486-2805, or email kdcarmona@sfasu.edu.

By Joanna Armstrong, marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.


Stephen F. Austin State University will hold a dedication ceremony for the 1st Lt. Kile G. West Memorial Obstacle Course at 2:30 p.m. April 29 at the Student Recreation Center on the SFA campus. The course honors West, who graduated from SFA in 2005 and was killed in action May 28, 2007, in Abu Sayda, Iraq.

April 2, 2019 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University will hold a dedication ceremony for the 1st Lt. Kile G. West Memorial Obstacle Course at 2:30 p.m. April 29 at the Student Recreation Center on the SFA campus. The public is invited to attend.

West, who graduated from SFA in 2005, attended the field artillery officer basic course and was assigned to the 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood. West and four of his men were killed in action May 28, 2007, in Abu Sayda, Iraq, while en route to rescue the crew of a downed U.S. aircraft. West was the first officer commissioned at SFA to be killed in action. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart.

“West absolutely embodied the Lumberjack Battalion’s motto, ‘Be the Best,’” said Maj. James Attaway, SFA chair and professor of military science. “We wanted to do something to honor his sacrifice to our nation and thought it would be appropriate to name the obstacle course after him because it will be regularly used by our cadets.”

Completed in April 2018, the obstacle course was designed by Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rendon, SFA instructor of military science, to help cadets develop the strength, stamina and confidence they need to apply to Air Assault School.

Attaway said the obstacle course requires cadets to literally take a leap of faith to make it over obstacles they may face in life.

“The obstacle course helps cadets conquer their fears by putting them into challenging physical and mental situations. These experiences will help prepare them for challenges they will face as a United States Army officer,” Attaway said.

To learn more about the SFA Army ROTC program, visit sfasu.edu/rotc.


Stephen F. Austin State University elementary education juniors along with Dr. Sarah Straub, assistant professor, have created a Bilingual Education Student Organization chapter in Nacogdoches to promote bilingual education. Pictured from left are officers Valerie Vela, secretary; Sofia Martinez, treasurer; Straub; Brenda Sosa, president; and Miriam Lira, vice president.

April 1, 2019 Nacogdoches, Texas — Imagine being in a classroom where you don’t speak the language. You try to complete your assignments. You try to communicate with your classmates, but you can’t.

“There are a lot of kids coming into Texas who don’t speak English and Spanish learners who are having trouble in the classroom. I was one when I was younger, and I didn’t have the guidance I needed,” said Miriam Lira, a student at Stephen F. Austin State University who has recently been involved with helping create a chapter of the Bilingual Education Student Organization. 

Lira, BESO vice president, along with SFA elementary education juniors Brenda Sosa, BESO president; Valerie Vela, secretary; and Sofia Martinez, treasurer; have worked to bring BESO to Nacogdoches. Dr. Sarah Straub, SFA assistant professor in elementary education, helped kick start this organization.

“We weren’t aware that there wasn’t anything out there for diverse and bilingual education, so whenever Dr. Straub brought it up I was shocked,” Martinez said. “We believed we should start the organization here and spread the word about bilingual education.”

Many universities across Texas have a BESO chapter. Martinez explained its goal is to promote bilingual education in the field of education, as well as the diversity of bilingualism.

“I know many Spanish-speaking parents come here and make their children learn English and not Spanish,” Martinez said. “My parents taught me the opposite. They taught me to not be ashamed of who you are. You are Hispanic; you speak Spanish first. Don’t ever let go of that because you will use it in the future.”

Students do not have to speak Spanish to be a BESO member. As a member, students will have the opportunity to attend professional development events specific to bilingual education. For example, Dr. Jim Ewing, SFA assistant professor in elementary education, spoke to BESO members at their first meeting about “Celebrating Nuestra Identidad (our identity): The Various Faces of Bilingualism.”

Erica Bundy, from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, spoke to BESO members during the second professional development session about “translanguaging” as a way to support bilingual students by empowering them to use all of their linguistic resources.

“Our officers believe teacher candidates should have more of an opportunity to learn about bilingualism and their future emergent bilingual students, and this open professional development opportunity provides that space,” Straub said.

Community service is another important aspect of BESO, and members will have the opportunity to engage with the community in various ways. For example, BESO has a partnership with Absolutely Fiction in Lufkin, and members will conduct bilingual reading sessions and activities this semester.

Currently, there is no membership fee. To join, contact Straub at straubsm@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-1723.

By Kasi Dickerson, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University. 

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