SFA University

May 10, 2021 - New students entering Stephen F. Austin State University may receive a housing scholarship of up to $3,000 per semester for up to two years.

The housing allowance program, recently approved by SFA’s Board of Regents, gives qualifying students even more reason to be part of SFA’s on-campus residential community, according to Dr. Brandon Frye, SFA vice president for student affairs.

“We want students living on campus,” Frye said. “Research shows the more engaged students are and the more active they are in university life, the better their chances for success.”

A new STEM Research and Learning Center quasi-endowment of $500,000 will provide funds to support student scholarships for students majoring in a STEM field within SFA’s College of Sciences and Mathematics. The funds also will support initiatives that reflect the teaching and learning mission of the STEM Research and Learning Center.

Based on the recommendation of a Campus Climate Steering Committee, regents approved a Diversity and Inclusion Statement to affirm the university’s commitment to creating an environment that respects, honors and values diverse experiences and perspectives.

The statement reads: At SFA, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is more than words—it is actions. We believe diversity and inclusion are keys to promoting more engaged individuals locally and globally. We at SFA are committed to amplifying a campus culture that nurtures belonging and embraces similarities while celebrating that every Lumberjack will be different. Those differences are valued, acknowledged and supported purposefully.

The 46-member committee includes faculty, staff, students and administrators.

“Our goal is to create welcoming learning environments and promote access and opportunity for all,” said Dr. Michara Delaney-Fields, SFA’s chief diversity officer.

Members of the board also approved a change in SFA’s food-service provider.

With objectives that include reimagining or replacing SFA’s East College Cafeteria and contributing to student satisfaction and enrollment growth, regents heard presentations by representatives with the current food service provider, Aramark, as well as competitors Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services and Sodexo.

A request for proposals for the food service contract, valued at approximately $73 million over seven years, was issued by SFA in November 2020. Aramark, Chartwells and Sodexo were the only three companies that submitted proposals.

Regents voted to authorize SFA President Scott Gordon to negotiate with Chartwells and, should the need arise, to subsequently enter into contract negotiations with Sodexo. Frye expressed appreciation to a committee of SFA employees, as well as Envision Strategies, an external consulting firm, for their assistance with the project.

“Student access and success are top priorities for SFA, and we look forward to working with the selected vendor, after the contract is finalized, to advance those priorities through our dining services program and services,” Frye said. “We will work to ensure a smooth transition to the selected vendor.”

Chartwells is the food service provider for several Texas universities including Texas State University, the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas A&M University at College Station.

Regents approved utilizing solely private donations to replace the turf and track at Homer Bryce Stadium and voted to name the field in honor of former SFA regent Jimmy W. Murphy. Regents also approved the naming of three areas in the Loddie Naymola Basketball Performance Center at William R. Johnson Coliseum: the Dr. Robert and Ruth Carroll Sports Medicine Offices, the Coach Harry and Tillie Miller Fan Observation Area, and the Joe Max and Jane Green Lobby.

Regents approved grant awards and a LaNana Trails campus project to reconstruct the trail on the university campus. The initiative is part of a Texas Department of Transportation project valued at more than $1.8 million, and SFA is contributing $362,255 as a 20% institutional match.

For more information, visit sfasu.edu/regents.

May 7, 2021 – Stephen F. Austin State University’s ROTC program recently competed in the national Sandhurst Military Skills Competition in West Point, New York.

The Lumberjack Ranger Challenge Team competed among 44 teams of national Army ROTC programs and U.S. military academy companies, including the University of Georgia, Texas A&M University and the United States Military Academy.

“Most of the other ROTC programs that competed had at least 150 cadets, compared to our 65 cadets,” said Lt. Col. James Attaway, SFA professor of military science. “Despite the size difference, we were able to prove we deserved to be there and compete.”

The two-day competition challenges cadets through myriad events, including obstacle course navigation, rifle marksmanship and more.

“I have been in the Army since 1998 and attended numerous schools, including Ranger School, parachute training, air assault training, and Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape,” said Attaway. “None of these schools did as much in one day as this competition forced these teams to do.

“For example, on the first day of competition, cadets ran approximately 27 miles in boots and a full kit, which includes a vest and weapons, while completing multiple functional fitness workouts and military tasks. Our cadets are willing to go above and beyond to prove they’re the best.”

Despite the trials of COVID-19, the Lumberjack Ranger Challenge Team diligently worked to prepare for the national competition. For months, cadets trained physically for the competition through functional fitness, cardio, swimming and weight training exercises. Cadets also were trained on a variety of tasks by SFA ROTC field instructors, including land navigation, first-aid preparedness, tying knots and obstacle courses.

By Emily Brown, marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.

May 3, 2021 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s horticulture program will host a spring plant sale from Noon to 2pm Thursday, May 6, and Friday, May 14, at the SFA Plantery, located at 1924 Wilson Drive.

“Our students have worked hard this spring growing a great crop of plants that will do well in East Texas,” said Dr. Jared Barnes, associate professor of horticulture at SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. “With this plant sale, we want to show off our student’s hard work in the greenhouses, as well as the opportunities offered through SFA’s agriculture department.”

Plants available for purchase include a variety of houseplants, succulents, tropical plants and spring annuals. All proceeds support future educational projects in SFA’s horticulture program.

COVID-19 protocols will be in place to help ensure a safe shopping environment. Social distancing and face coverings are required.

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 www.horticultureisawesome.com/the-plantery or following @sfahorticulture on Instagram.

April 29, 2021 - Stephen F. Austin State University will hold seven commencement ceremonies for May 2021 to accommodate measures aimed at ensuring attendee safety.

May and August 2020 graduates are invited to participate in the May ceremony, and seating in the Johnson Coliseum will be adjusted to help ensure physical distancing. All attendees will be required to wear face masks.

Graduates and their guests must present tickets to enter Johnson Coliseum. Tickets are free but will help university officials ensure the venue is not overcrowded and that adequate spacing can be maintained during the event. Each graduate will be allotted one ticket for themselves and a maximum of six guest tickets for their respective ceremony.

Candidates from the following schools and departments will participate in a ceremony on Friday, May 7:

  • 1 p.m., the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership and the 2020 May and August graduates, with Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey as speaker
  • 4 p.m., the Department of Education Studies and the College of Forestry and Agriculture, with Dr. Steve Bullard as speaker
  • 7 p.m., the School of Human Sciences and the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, with Dr. Rachel Jumper as speaker

Candidates from the following schools and departments will participate in a ceremony on Saturday, May 8:

  • 9 a.m., the College of Business, with Mike Parham as speaker
  • Noon, the College of Fine Arts and the School of Social Work, with Dr. Sam Copeland as speaker
  • 3 p.m., the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, with Dr. Troy Davis as speaker
  • 6 p.m., the College of Sciences and Mathematics, with Dr. Roy Joe Harris as speaker

Degrees to be awarded include 1,286 bachelor’s, 295 master’s and four doctoral degrees. Approximately 500 students will graduate with honors, including 168 cum laude, 140 magna cum laude and 187 summa cum laude. Sixty-five will graduate with the university scholar designation.

All ceremonies will be livestreamed on the SFA Facebook page, facebook.com/sfasu. For more information, visit sfasu.edu/commencement.

April 28, 2021 Nacogdoches – Plans are being finalized for the May 1 outdoor music festival hosted by the Music Preparatory Division of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music in celebration of Music Prep’s 40th anniversary.

The all-day event will take place at the Music Prep House, located at 3028 Raguet St., and will feature the talents of Music Prep’s outstanding student musicians and give local merchants the opportunity to showcase their businesses while showing support for the School of Music’s outreach program, according to Alba Madrid, Music Prep director and program instructor.

“This family-friendly outdoor music festival is the perfect way to end our school year, and it is a fitting tribute to 40 years of making music,” Madrid said. “This music festival will be a socially distanced event allowing music lovers to enjoy exceptional music, exhibition booths, food vendors and the great outdoors.”

The festival is designed to celebrate the accomplishments of current Music Prep students by sharing their performances with the community. The program will begin with the youngest artists in Kindermusik and Suzuki programs. Students taking private lessons will be featured in solo performances in various instruments. The festival will include a compelling performance by the Piney Woods Youth Symphony Orchestra.

A number of local merchants have signed on as sponsors for the event, including Lisle Violin Shop and Regents Academy, allegro sponsors; Rex Perry Autoplex, Etech, University Rental, Elliott Electric, New Camerata Opera, Nacogdoches Pediatric Dentistry and Gobel School of Dance, moderato sponsors; and Morning Glory Yoga, Commercial Bank of Texas, McWilliams & Son, Rodan + Fields and Nest Spa, adagio sponsors. Additionally, several merchants will have booth spaces to showcase their businesses. Local food trucks will be on site.

A new project also being celebrated is the creation of the Shirley Watterston Piano Lab at the Prep House. With the lab, named in honor of the Music Prep co-founder,  the Preparatory Division will be able to deliver affordable group piano instruction to members of the Nacogdoches and East Texas community. Classes will be offered for students of all ages (retirees, adults, teenagers, elementary) and skill levels. In addition to outreach potential, the piano lab program will also provide music majors internship opportunities to gain valuable teaching experiences in conjunction with their piano pedagogy classes.

The festival is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 1. For more information about the festival or the programs offered by Music Prep, contact Madrid at (936) 468-1291 or musicprep@sfasu.edu, or visit sfamusicprep.com.

April 20, 2021 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs will host an event April 21 in recognition and celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, a national holiday that takes place each May.

This year’s event will give particular attention to acts of violence that have affected the Asian American community specifically during the past year and to honor the lives lost in such attacks.

“In the past, this event has focused on celebrating the success of the Asian American community and highlighting cultural practices and individuals in the Nacogdoches community,” said Kori Lewis, OMA student ambassador. “Due to the widespread acts of hate against the Asian American community, we will be including a compilation of reaction and eye-witness videos on a loop during the event, as well as a memorial table in honor of those lost in the recent attacks in Atlanta, Georgia.”

According to asianpacificheritage.gov, May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

“The purpose of this commemorative month is to recognize and celebrate the achievements of and progress made by Asian American and Pacific Islanders despite the hardships and tribulations they may face day-to-day,” said La-Meria Seriale, OMA student ambassador. “We also hope to give that community the platform to stand up and be heard.”

The event will feature arts and crafts and informational video projects. Additionally, participants will have opportunities to petition in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders community.

The celebration will be from Noon to 2pm April 21 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Spirit Lounge on the SFA campus. The Nacogdoches and SFA communities are invited to attend the come-and-go event. It is free to attend, and registration is not required.

Attendees will be required to abide by SFA’s mask requirement and maintain a safe physical distance from other attendees.

April 19. 2021 – Metalworking and jewelry students from Stephen F. Austin State University, Dallas College, New Mexico State University and the University of Texas at El Paso collaborated in a semester-long technical process to create and trade metal brooches.

Practicing the historical process of lost wax casting, the students created original designs by carving wax, according to Lauren Selden, professor of metal/jewelry at SFA. The project was designed to help students learn to problem solve, be persistent and work in a condensed time frame.

“After placing the flasks filled with refractory material and the original wax in a kiln, students cast original forms in bronze into the void left from the melted wax,” Selden explained. “Each artist created rubber molds and wax additions of the original. Participants made a brooch for all of their classmates as well as the three participating universities.”

In addition to Selden, professors Natalie Macellaio, Motoko Furuhashi and Jess Tolbert shared project guidelines and technical tips and had a “Pin Pals Symposium” lecture discussing their personal artwork with all the participating students. Each professor provided an exhibition space in their respective towns of Nacogdoches, Farmers Branch and El Pass in Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Each university will keep the finished pin collection for their programs’ permanent collection. SFA students’ work will be displayed in the window of The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House beginning April 22.

“In a time where we haven’t been able to travel and see one another,” Selden said, “these tiny pins have traveled hundreds of miles in order to do what jewelry is often charged to do: bring joy and be a reminder of community.”

A collective virtual lecture is planned for 6pm Monday, April 26, accessible on Zoom. For inquiries, contact lselden@sfasu.edu.

Participating artists included:

SFA: Professor Lauren Selden; Amber Barrett, Kingwood sophomore; Kevin Burgess, San Antonio senior; Kailan Counahan, Rusk graduate student; Lindsey Creel, Austin graduate student; Miguel Gonzalez,  Georgetown junior; Kitty Hall, Melissa senior; Heath Pyle, Dallas senior; Morgan Ray, Center senior; Brendan Ryan, Cedar Park junior; and Michelle Salerno, Cypress senior.

Dallas College: Professor Natalie Macellaio, Kenya Diaz, Nomaan Mohammed, Ofelia Alvarenga, Raul Najera, Lily Chenbuynak, Daniel Townzen, Maria Villa Reyes, Rebecca Kim, Andrea Robinson, Ray Lavin, Kelaine Kvale and Douglas Jochum.

New Mexico State University: Professor Motoko Furuhashi, Tessa Bond, Paola Corchado, Mathew Deed, Sadie Esquer, Betty Hase, Julieanna Lerma, Everlyn Padilla, Nicholas Quartieri, Trisha Quintero, Cierra Redding, Ruben Reyes and Ger Xiong.

University of Texas at El Paso: Professor Jess Tolbert, Brandon Contreras, Andres Delgado, Ivan Esparza, Roxy Gonzalez, Noelle Marquez, Jess Ceballos, Jess Rivera, Mikayla Fraire, Skylar Boone, Roxy Rodriguez, Robbie Vazquez, Caro Villarreal, Alan Maguregui, Diane Morales and Gaby Alvarado.

For more information about this project and others in the SFA School of Art, call (936) 468-4804. The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St.

The results of a project in which SFA metal/jewelry students collaborated in a semester-long technical process to create and trade metal brooches with three other universities will be displayed in the window of The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches starting April 22.

April 19, 2021 - The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music will present its Concert in the Park at 2pm Sunday, April 25, in the wooded area between Wright Music Building and the Baker Pattillo Student Center on campus.

The outdoor concert, featuring all SFA wind bands, is a community favorite but was canceled last year because of COVID-19.

Featured bands include the Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. David Campo, director of bands at SFA; the Wind Symphony, directed by Dr. Tamey Anglley, associate director of bands and director of the Lumberjack Marching Band; Symphonic Band, directed by Dr. Chris Kaatz, assistant director of bands; and the University Band, directed by graduate conductors Felipe Hernandez of Lufkin, Jacob Bridges of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Abbigail Ramsey of Prosper.

Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma band organizations will sell food and band apparel as a fundraiser. Safety protocols such as facemasks, gloves, social distancing and hand sanitizer stations will be in place.

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Admission is free. For more information, contact the School of Music at (936) 468-4602.

April 19, 2021 – Stephen F. Austin State University graduate Richard Robichaux has landed a role in the new Disney+ show “Big Shot,” an original series streaming April 16.

“Big Shot,” which stars John Stamos and Yvette Nicole Brown, is the story of second chances for a hot-headed coach (Stamos) who loses his big time collegiate coaching job in the NCAA and has to start all over by teaching at a girl’s private high school.

“Big Shot,” a new Disney+ original series streaming April 16, stars John Stamos and Yvette Nicole Brown and also features SFA theatre alumnus Richard Robichaux ’96, far right, playing the role of a school counselor.

“It is also a story of second chances for his relationship with his daughter and for every character in the show who seem to all be trying to start something new,” Robichaux said.

Robichaux, who graduated from SFA in 1996 with a B.F.A. in theatre, has been seen in the films “Boyhood,” which was nominated for six Academy Awards and won the Golden Globe for Best Picture; “The Book of Love,” with Jason Sudeikis and Jessica Biel with all original music by Justin Timberlake; “Bernie,” opposite Shirley MacLaine, Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey; as well as extensive television credits, including “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Recent credits include “Ocean’s 8,” the ABC comedy “Speechless,” and “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” with Cate Blanchett, marking Robichaux’s fourth film with award-winning director Richard Linklater.

"To say the School of Theatre is proud to have Richard as both an alumnus and a Friends of Theatre member goes without saying,” Cleo House, School of Theatre director, said. “Richard is such a great example of the longstanding tradition the School of Theatre has of turning out top-notch graduates who go on to be successful."

In “Big Shot,” Robichaux plays George Pappas, a school counselor, which allows him to call on his experience as an educator. In addition to continuing to earn roles on the big and small screens, Robichaux is a member of the M.F.A. acting faculty at the University of California San Diego. Playing Pappas means he “gets to be in the middle of a lot of stuff and meddle,” he said.

“Being an actual educator has been a great asset because so many of the cast are the age of the students I work with,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to be colleagues with young actors whom I am usually only teaching.”

The series also stars Jessalyn Gilsig, Sophia Mitri Schloss, Nell Verlaque, Tiana Le, Monique Green, Tisha Custodio and Cricket Wampler. It was created by David E. Kelley, Brad Garrett, and Dean Lorey who also serve as executive-producers alongside Bill D'Elia.

Robichaux described Stamos and Brown as “everything you would want them to be.”

“Kind, genuine, thoughtful, so funny and supportive of the whole team,” he said, “especially when Covid hit and things were so hard, they were constantly texting the cast to keep up the good work and keep spirits high. They are two of the best actors in television right now, hands down.”

“Richard is one of the most pliable actors I’ve ever worked with, and that is a high compliment,” Stamos said. “On our new Disney+ show, his character George started out one way, then David Kelley decided to take a complete 180 with George. Without missing a beat, Richard created (recreated) a character to rival my Marvyn, resulting in some of my favorite scenes on our show. To act with him is like playing music with a great musician or sports with a great athlete. He listens. I throw him a fastball; he catches it, then lobs something at me that either challenges me or makes me laugh. He’s a consummate pro who I learn something from every time I act with him. He’s a great family man, and I admire that too.”

Brown described Robichaux as “joy walking.”

“He makes every day on set fun,” she said. “And he’s such a great actor that even if I know what his lines are, I never know what bit of silliness or gravitas or magic he’s going to bring to them. The gift of working with him has been a masterclass.”

Robichaux continues to keep up his teaching schedule while working on the new series.

“Since our show is only 10 episodes, and I am usually in just a few scenes per show, it hasn’t been hard on my schedule,” he said. “It shoots in L.A., so that certainly helps. Also, UCSD is one of the best research institutions in the world. I am not only encouraged but expected to do big things in my field of research.”

He said he wants SFA theatre students to know it’s possible for theatre graduates be successful on many different levels.

“I always want SFA students to know that this is possible,” he said. “I’m the perfect example. I was a first generation college student from a small town in Texas, and now I hold the endowed chair in acting at one of the most respected M.F.A. acting programs in the world, and I will also be on your TV this month. That all started with a degree from SFA.”

Robichaux came to Nacogdoches in the early 1990s from Channelview, an oil refinery suburb of Houston. He earned a Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University, has worked with many of the top programs in the country and is a nationally recognized leader in actor training. He is an outspoken advocate for theatre education and has delivered keynote addresses at several events, including the Southeastern Theatre Conference, Texas Thespian Festival, Florida Association of Theatre Educators, Heartland Film Festival, Colorado Thespian Festival, and the Educational Theater Association's National Teacher Conference. He is also a judge for the College Television Awards presented by the Emmys. Robichaux was the head of acting at Penn State University prior to his arrival at UCSD where he teaches acting process to M.F.A. actors as well as a course on professional practice and on-camera acting.

April 9, 2021 — The chaos of an intensive care unit has been depicted in movies and TV shows for decades, and students in Stephen F. Austin State University’s School of Human Sciences got one step closer to experiencing the real thing in their medical nutrition therapy II course.

Designed to expose students to all the equipment they will encounter in a clinical environment for patient care, the course is held in a simulated ICU room at SFA’s DeWitt School of Nursing.

“This lesson is important for these future registered dietitians to integrate nutrition into the treatments they’ll encounter in the real world,” said Justin Pelham, clinical instructor of food and nutrition at SFA. “And I want them to feel comfortable in a chaotic environment.”

With the help of a mannequin that breathes and blinks, students reviewed the numerous tubes and cannisters that support a patient and present the greatest risk of infection if not handled correctly. From sodium chloride and lipid bags to total parenteral nutrition, or “steak and potato,” bags, the students explored intravenous feeding and hydrating.

“By attending the simulation, I feel more prepared for what I will be seeing and experiencing in the real world before I graduate,” said Paige Pierce, a nutrition senior from Sachse. “It is one thing to talk about TPN and calculate tube feeding in class, but to actually see TPN bags and the machine they are hooked up to helped enhance my understanding.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented special challenges for ensuring a patient’s nutrition needs are met.

Patients with COVID-19 generally require supplemental oxygen through breathing treatments and the use of oxygen masks and nasal cannulas, Pelham said.

“At this point, patients can still eat and digest their food. The food may need mechanical softening — chopping or pureeing in a blender — but the patients can still eat it,” he said. “Once they’re on a ventilator, though, there’s no room to feed them by mouth anymore. Nutrition has to be implemented via the gastrointestinal tract or intravenously as a last resort.”

Students in the course also examine the nutrition care process for other conditions, including cancer, diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus, liver disease and renal disease. This visual application of the simulation helps students see how to integrate the clinical equipment, roles of the interdisciplinary health team and the necessity for proactive nutrition interventions for these conditions.

“We want our dietetic students feeling confident at the next stage in their clinical rotations of their dietetic internship,” Pelham said.

For more information on SFA’s food, nutrition and dietetics program, visit sfasu.edu/nutrition.

As part of their training to be registered dietitians, students in Stephen F. Austin State University’s food, nutrition and dietetics program explored the nutrition provision process in a simulated intensive care unit at SFA’s DeWitt School of Nursing with help from Justin Pelham, clinical instructor in the School of Human Sciences. The simulation is designed to help them feel comfortable in a chaotic environment. (Photo by Dr. Shirley Luna.)