SFA University

March 12, 2020 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s Spring Break will be extended by two days to provide time for SFA faculty members to move classes to an online or other distance-education format, until at least April 6.

Classes were scheduled to resume on March 16, but instead will be resuming on March 18 in an online or other distance-education format.  Faculty are being asked to utilize March 16 and 17 to prepare for this transition.  SFA staff members are expected to report for work as scheduled, and updates regarding campus operations will be announced via the university’s website at www.sfasu.edu/Covid19.

“Given the ongoing global concerns around coronavirus pandemic, we want to do our part to keep our entire campus community safe and to contribute to the management of this growing public health crisis,” said Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president.

Face-to-face classes may resume on April 6, and the university’s Easter holidays, previously scheduled for April 9, 10 and 13, will not be observed so that lost class time can be recovered.

“We will closely monitor this dynamic situation and, if necessary, could possibly extend the date for resuming in-person classes,” Gordon said. “Students will receive information from their respective colleges and faculty with details regarding how course work will be conducted.”

All on-campus events scheduled through April 5 will be canceled or postponed, and event planners will be contacted by the Baker Pattillo Student Center beginning Monday, March 16. All university-sponsored student and employee travel, both international and domestic, scheduled for March 16 through April 1 will be canceled unless approved by senior university administrators.

Showcase Saturday, SFA’s open house event for prospective students, scheduled for March 28, also will be rescheduled.

To accommodate students whose presence on campus is necessary, limited food service operations will be provided in the East College Dining Hall beginning Sunday, March 15.

Students who live on campus and need to retrieve personal belongings may do so on Sunday, March 15, from noon until 9 p.m. or Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Although there are no confirmed cases on SFA’s campus, several cases have been confirmed in Texas.

“Any student or employee who is ill or who believes they may have been exposed to coronavirus cannot return to campus and should follow CDC guidelines for self-isolation,” Gordon said. “If any student or employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, we ask that they notify the university at www.sfasu.edu/COVIDabsence.”

Although the university’s plans are evolving, May commencement exercises are expected to continue as scheduled.

“We will be updating information on the SFA website, but we ask for patience as we seek to make the best decisions possible,” Gordon said. “Our primary guiding priorities are the wellbeing of the SFA community and allowing our students to complete all course requirements for the spring semester. Every decision is made with these priorities in mind.“

March 6, 2020 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host its annual Garden Gala Day Plant Sale from 9am to 2pm Saturday, April 4, at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center in historic Nacogdoches.

The sale will feature a variety of hard-to-find, “Texas-tough” plants, including Texas natives, heirlooms, tropicals, perennials, shrubs and trees, with an emphasis on pollinator friendly selections, as well as exclusive SFA introductions. The featured plants are extensively trialed before being offered to the public and are produced by SFA Gardens staff members and volunteers.

This popular event benefits the SFA Mast Arboretum, PNPC, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden and Gayla Mize Garden, along with educational programs hosted monthly at the gardens. Educational programs provided at the SFA Gardens reach more than 15,000 participants annually.

Parking will be available at SFA’s Janice A. Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center, and visitors are encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon for their plants.

For more information and a list of available plants, call (936) 468-4129 or visit sfagardens.org two weeks before the sale.

March 6, 2020 - Stephen F. Austin State University is on a mission to help students graduate more quickly and with less debt, and departments across the campus, including two newly created teams, are working to implement changes to meet this goal.

According to Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president, the university is laser focused on student success and on-time completion in order to assist students in achieving their dreams.

“In addition to our recently approved tuition models and housing incentives, we are looking to find unnecessary bureaucratic policies and procedures and remove them,” Gordon said. “We are streamlining processes to serve our students better. Our goal is to have students graduate in four years and with a lower cost for their degree.”

Tiger Team

Designated as the Tiger Team, the top priority for the group is removing barriers that might stand in the way of success for new or continuing students. The term “Tiger Team” is used frequently in corporate settings and describes a group that includes knowledgeable individuals from different specialties working together to solve complex problems, according to Erma Brecht, executive director of enrollment management.

“Some of our practices or processes have become outdated due to technology enhancements, new initiatives or different expectations from how our students want and need to be served,” Brecht said. “The Tiger Team is committed to dissecting each barrier and offering an enhanced approach to overcoming these barriers, when possible.”

Anthony Espinoza, chief information officer, said the team is streamlining internal processes while looking for opportunities to better leverage the university’s investment in information technology.

“For example, students in the Perkins College of Education and in the Rusche College of Business can now review and electronically sign their academic advising forms online,” he said.

As an additional benefit, registration holds have been modified, and in some cases eliminated, to improve the student’s registration experience.

“The establishment of the Tiger Team demonstrates SFA’s commitment to our student’s success,” Espinoza said.

Course Scheduling

Anyone who attended college before technology became a part of the registration process probably remembers waiting in long lines with a registration form in hand, hoping to have a sticker added to the form indicating enrollment in the desired classes. While electronic registration has eliminated the need for long lines, sometimes enrolling in the most desired class session is still not without difficulties.

A new group dedicated to removing these difficulties includes each of the six academic deans and is called the LAN-CAT team.

“LAN-CAT stands for Leadership Actions Now - Course Availability Team,” explained Dr. Steve Bullard, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The deans of each of our six colleges provide the ‘leadership,’ since each course we offer is in one of their colleges, and since they are ultimately responsible for what’s offered each semester. The rest of the team includes administrators and staff members who can support the actions needed.”

Bullard said college students across the nation experience difficulties when trying to schedule specific courses during the semesters and time periods when they need to take them.

“We're taking every step possible to make sure SFA students have the courses and labs they need, when they need them,” he said. “This means creating new sections of courses when and where needed, and it also means putting faculty, staff and technology resources in the places where students need them most.”

For the spring 2020 semester, additional seats were offered in multiple courses, across all six colleges.

“Most of our attention is on ‘gateway’ courses like anatomy and physiology,” Bullard said. “These are courses that are required before a student can progress to the next level in their degree path or curriculum.”

Advising Task Force

Advising university students includes tracking individual success according to benchmarks, recording summaries of appointments, and contacting those who may need assistance in improving their academic standing. According to Dr. Marc Guidry, associate provost, SFA is utilizing a web-based program called Navigate to communicate with students, schedule their advising appointments and assist with other advising duties.

“Our advisors can use the system to contact students whose academic performance indicates they may need additional coaching, for instance, students who performed in ‘the murky middle’—meaning somewhere in the ‘C’ to ‘C+’ range—and who could elevate their performance with the right supports,” Guidry said. “Advisors also contact all probationary students to provide them with information and resources that can help them recover their academic standing, rather than being placed on suspension.”

The Navigate program also serves as an early alert system professors can use to issue an alert regarding a student who has missed too many classes or received a bad grade early in the semester, so that an advisor can intervene and assist the student, Guidry said.

“Navigate also contains analytics on our student success metrics that can track students with academic performance concerns or academic progress concerns,” Guidry explained. “We can also track things like graduation rate by credit range, that is, what percentage of students who took 15-18 hours graduated versus their peers who only took 12-14 hours in a given semester. What our internal SFA data show is that students who take more hours tend to have a higher GPA.”

Guidry said the Navigate program allows SFA to assess the effectiveness of advising interventions and improve the opportunities for student success.

15 to Finish Campaign

Many national research studies also show that college students are more successful — with higher grades and higher graduation rates — when they take at least 15 hours during the fall and spring semesters. SFA has launched a new 15 to Finish campaign to remind students that completing fewer than 30 hours per academic year is not equivalent to a four-year degree plan.

According to Bullard, federal financial aid policies require students to be enrolled in just 12 credits each semester to be eligible for assistance, and for some students, this creates an impression that 12 hours is “full time.”

“Students who only take 12 semester credit hours tend not to do as well academically, and they also run the risk of using all of their financial aid without reaching the 120-hour goal,” he explained. “Taking at least 15 hours each semester means students are more likely to graduate on time, since in eight semesters they can achieve the 120 hours required in most bachelor’s degree programs.”

SFA tuition beginning in the fall 2020 will be on a flat-rate basis beginning at 12 hours, so students may take as many as 21 hours for the cost of 12 hours.

“The most expensive college degree is the one you never receive because you fell short of completing all requirements,” Bullard said. “SFA's new 15 to Finish campaign, and the other efforts that are underway, will help ensure our students are successful.”

For more information about SFA admissions, sfasu.edu/admissions-and-aid.


March 6, 2020 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host a Veggie Gardening 101 workshop to share methods for growing successful vegetables in East Texas.

The event will run from 9am to Noon March 21, 2020 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building, Room 101, at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet Street in Nacogdoches.

Jodi and Duke Pittman of Pittman Farms will lead the workshop. Participants will explore basic vegetable growing principles, including site selection, soil testing and preparation, appropriate vegetables varieties for East Texas, and common problems. Participants also will learn proper seed-sowing techniques with a hands-on project that they will take home.

“Growing your own vegetables is incredibly rewarding and not nearly as difficult as people imagine,” Duke said.

East Texas enjoys long growing seasons, and a variety of vegetables can be grown at various times throughout the year.

“There is nothing better than the taste of the first homegrown tomato of the season,” Jodi added.

Cost for the seminar is $30 for SFA Garden members and $40 for nonmembers. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. To register for the seminar or for more information, contact the SFA Gardens education office at (936) 468-4129 or sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

Rick J. Lewandowski, director of the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, will be the guest speaker for the Stephen F. Austin State University SFA Gardens’ monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series, slated for 7 p.m. March 19 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.March 4, 2020 Nacogdoches — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. March 19 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.

Rick J. Lewandowski, director of the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, will present “Plant Treasures in the Piney Woods of the Gulf South.”

Lewandowski has been director of the center since 2013. Previously, he was director of Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware for 13 years where he led its transition from private estate to nonprofit. He also was curator of the living collections and director of horticulture with the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia where he served for 16 years.

Lewandowski is a seasoned horticulturist, garden designer, plant explorer and environmentalist with over 35 years of experience. He is passionate about native plants, environmentally responsible gardening and connecting people with the natural world. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and master’s degree from the University of Maryland.

The Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month and includes a rare plant raffle after the program. The lecture is free and open to the public, but donations to the Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series fund are always appreciated.

Parking is available at the PNPC and Raguet Elementary School, located at 2428 Raguet St.

For more information, call (936) 468-4129, or email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

March 3, 2020 - The Stone Fort Museum on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University will serve as the venue for a St. Patrick’s Day concert by local band El Camino Real de Nacogdoches from 2pm to 3pm Saturday, March 14.

“Live performances help us connect to our musical heritage in the same way that hands-on activities help learners connect to their studies in new ways,” said Carolyn Spears, curator of the Stone Fort Museum.

The St. Patrick’s Day musical celebration will showcase Celtic, bluegrass, traditional country, Appalachian, folk and other music genres.

According to Spears, Irish settlers brought their traditions to Nacogdoches in the 19th century, with more than 3,000 Irish listed on the 1860 census.

“This concert will allow us to enjoy traditional music from Ireland, as well as music that celebrates the rich history of Texas,” Spears said.

According to band members Paul Driver, Jon Hall, Charlie Jones, Mark McLain, Robbie Roach, Craig and Michelle Smith, and Jesse Tingle, the band is East Texas’ answer to The Old Crow Medicine Show, an Americana string band based in Nashville, playing old-time acoustic music using the fiddle, guitars, mandolin, banjos and percussion.

El Camino Real de Nacogdoches formed in 2002. The band has played at a variety of art, theatrical and musical events associated with SFA. It also has been featured during Nacogdoches’ annual Blueberry Festival, Old-Time Christmases at Millard’s Crossing and The Pine Knot Music Co-op. In 2017, the band released it first CD, “Camino Real: The Nacogdoches Sessions.”

The concert is free and open to the public. The band will perform on the north lawn of the museum, weather permitting. Light refreshments will be served and include traditional Irish treats.

For more information, contact Spears at cspears@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-2408.

March 2, 2020 Nacogdoches — A wide range of topics concerning women in leadership, health and wellness, and other women’s issues will be discussed during the fourth annual Women’s Empowerment Summit, hosted by Stephen F. Austin State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs March 20 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Twilight Ballroom.

Veronica Beavers, OMA director, is excited to host an event that empowers women and educates the community on issues women face every day.

“During this summit, we want attendees to connect with others who are striving to make an impact, learn professional development skills, discuss the issues women are facing today, learn tips on improving personal wellness and much more,” Beavers said. “Regardless of gender, I believe everyone can benefit from the summit.”

Elena Freeman will kick off the summit as the opening speaker. A mentor, preacher/teacher and leader, Freeman can discuss myriad topics, such as practical life skills, student programming, public speaking, missions, conflict resolution, sex education, parenting and more. Freeman serves as an advocate for community youth programs, safe houses, shelters, prisons and organizations.

The luncheon speaker will be Valerie Henderson, area vice president at SHI, the largest female minority-owned business in the U.S. SHI is a technology consulting firm that employs more than 4,000.

Ebony Smith will close the summit. She is the founder of Yoga N Da Hood, a fast-growing nonprofit dedicated to making wellness accessible to everyone. Smith has taught yoga and mindfulness throughout the world and is an experienced speaker.

Event check in starts at 8:30 a.m. The opening keynote presentation will begin at 9 a.m. followed by a breakout session at 10 a.m. The lunch keynote will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and will be followed by two more breakout sessions. The closing speaker session will begin at 2:30 p.m. Breakout session presenters are a mix of faculty, staff and community members.

The event is free and open to the public. Lunch is provided to all who pre-register. Registration is available at sfasu.edu/oma. The deadline to register is March 13.

For more information, contact the OMA at (936) 468-1073 or oma@sfasu.edu.

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

February 28, 2020 Nacogdoches — Senior interior design students at Stephen F. Austin State University are showcasing their talents during the Essence of Design exhibit on display through March 28 on the second floor of the Steen Library at SFA. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Each of the students is allotted a 64-square-foot area to create a display that showcases his or her personality, skills and design philosophy. The students’ areas are equipped with TV monitors that showcase collaborations among all SFA’s interior design classes and faculty members.

“This exhibit demonstrates what interior designers do in the real world and how much technical information is required for a design,” said Sally Ann Swearingen, associate professor of interior design and construction management in SFA’s School of Human Sciences.

The exhibit helps students prepare their portfolios for the job-search process, educate the public about interior design and experience the complete design process, from conceptualization to design development, fabrication, installation and evaluation.

Plano senior Caroline Lebeuf gained construction and troubleshooting skills while working on her double-sided display that includes sitting and shelf areas. “This was a fun way to show my love for design and my use of color and details to liven up spaces,” she said.

The interior design seniors will be available to discuss their work in person at a reception from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 29, in the same location as the showcase. Johnson Furniture is sponsoring the reception, and Lufkin Printing is sponsoring the invitations.

The exhibit also offers area high school students a chance to explore the interior design program at SFA.

“Our exhibit runs during an SFA Showcase Saturday event on March 28, so prospective students can see this exhibit and our facility,” Swearingen said. “We’re also inviting all area high school students interested in art, drafting and design to stop by and see the exhibit.”

To schedule a guided tour for future Lumberjacks or high school students, contact Swearingen at (936) 468-2048 or sswearingen@sfasu.edu.

Senior interior design students at Stephen F. Austin State University are showcasing their talents during the Essence of Design exhibit on display through March 28 on the second floor of the Steen Library at SFA. The students designed and fabricated displays to showcase their personalities, design skills and portfolios. Jordyn Graham of Mesquite designed an airport pop-up bar and gained real-world experience for her future career in aviation hospitality.

February 19, 2020 - The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre will present Kate Hamill’s “Pride and Prejudice” at 7:30 nightly through Saturday, February 22, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus. Theatre students, from left, Clayton junior Colby Green, Royse City senior Bayley Owen and Red Oak senior Sedona McDonald are among the cast members in this stage adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. Single tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and non-SFA students and $7.50 for youth. Tickets for SFA students are $5. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.theatre.sfasu.edu.

The all-time favorite Super Scientific Circus returns to SFA on Friday. Feb. 28. This CPAS performance is sponsored by Nacogdoches Pediatric Dentistry. A few seats are still available for the 12:30 p.m. performance.

February 18, 2020 Nacogdoches – Only a few seats are still available for the afternoon performance of the widely popular Super Scientific Circus scheduled to be presented on Friday, Feb. 28, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.

The SFA College of Fine Arts’ Children’s Performing Arts Series has brought the exciting science-related show featuring Mr. Fish and Trent the Mime to Turner stage many times, and every visit is always well-received by students and their teachers, according to Diane Peterson, Fine Arts Box Office manager and director of the series. This year, the morning show is sold out, but limited seating is available for the afternoon, Peterson said.

The program, which targets students in kindergarten through 12th grade, is designed to “help students understand that science can be appreciated in everything we see and do,” Peterson said.

Super Scientific Circus’ appearance at SFA is sponsored by Nacogdoches Pediatric Dentistry.
“We want to thank Nacogdoches Pediatric Dentistry for helping us bring this program back to the SFA campus so East Texas area students of all ages can better understand how science can be fun,” Peterson added.

The program features circus skills, magic tricks, comedy and mime to illustrate fundamental scientific concepts such as gravity, air pressure and ultraviolet light.

Performance times are 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 for individuals and $6 per person for groups of 20 or more.

This year’s children’s series concludes on Tuesday, April 28, with the beloved story of “Cinderella,” presented by The Panto Company USA. Bullied by her two mean stepsisters, Cinders’ future looks bleak until her Fairy Godmother casts a spell and sends her to the ball. True to the story, “Cinderella” is full of original modern songs, bursting with hilarity and has a happy ending. This show is for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and will be presented at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in Turner Auditorium.

For tickets or more information, call the Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.cpas.sfasu.edu.