SFA University

April 15, 2020 - The Counseling Clinic at Stephen F. Austin State University is accepting new clients and temporarily waiving all fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though in-person appointments aren’t possible as SFA students shelter in place in their hometowns and residents in Nacogdoches County follow stay-at-home orders, the clinic is helping clients by phone and Zoom from 8am to 6pm Monday through Thursday. Appointments on Fridays and after 6pm Monday through Thursday also can be made by calling (936) 468-1041.

The Counseling Clinic is part of the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership in the James I. Perkins College of Education at SFA. It assists SFA students and community members while training graduate students who are in the practicum and internship portion of their education. These graduate students provide counseling services to clients under the supervision of licensed counselor education faculty members.

Counseling Clinic services include individual, parent and child, couples, family, and group therapy, as well as career planning and development.

Clients contact the clinic for help with issues that include anger management, anxiety, career counseling, depression, divorce, employment-seeking skills, grief, life adjustments (for example, homesickness), marriage counseling, parenting, problem-solving, social skills, stress management, substance abuse, test anxiety and time management.

Despite the anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer people are calling the clinic for help, according to Nashae Turner, director of the Counseling Clinic.

“We’ve seen a decrease in requests for services; however, I believe there is an increase in need,” Turner said. “Those who need it are not aware we are available or are unaware that we’ve found ways to work around barriers.”

These barriers include limited or no internet service, inexperience with video conferencing technology, lack of privacy as family members shelter in place together and share equipment, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations.

“Because we are an instructional clinic, the sessions are all observed either live or on video,” Turner said. “Due to HIPAA regulations, we are unable to record Zoom sessions, so I or other faculty members must sit in on the sessions to monitor graduate students.”

Clients are informed of this policy when they attend sessions in person at the Counseling Clinic, but “they’re not actually aware when it is going on,” Turner said. “With Zoom, they can see when we are monitoring, and that can be uncomfortable for many clients.”

Turner wants to assure community members and SFA students that they can still get the help they need from the clinic.

“I am working closely with Dr. Robbie Steward, the department chair; Dr. Wendy Killam, the Master of Arts counseling program director; and Dr. Leigh Kirby, training director, to stay connected with our community member and student clients while assuring continued compliance with HIPAA and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs training standards during this pandemic,” Turner said.

“We have been able to continue services for most of our clients through Zoom, and we are pleased with the institution’s support in making all required accommodations associated with COVID-19 so that our service delivery might continue.”

Once the pandemic is over, the Counseling Clinic will return to its usual fee system. The first five sessions are free for students and community members. Starting with the sixth visit, costs for community members are determined using a variable fee scale based on gross family income and family size ($5 to $20 maximum per service). SFA students pay $5 per service.

For more information, call the Counseling Clinic at (936) 468-1041.

April 15, 2020 — In higher education, much emphasis is placed on transformative learning experiences. In fact, when administrators at Stephen F. Austin State University were drafting the university’s 2015-23 strategic plan, they assigned providing students with transformative learning experiences as the institution’s overarching goal.
Generally, these types of experiences are gained through internships, work study and study abroad activities in which students voluntarily participate. They provide the types of hands-on learning opportunities that help students acclimate to the world and their careers after graduation.
Recently, just about every college student worldwide has become actively engaged in a transformative learning experience as a result of the effects of COVID-19. Though there are many lessons to be learned from this pandemic, the lessons involving economics will be especially far reaching.
“Every person on the planet is making adjustments,” said Dr. Mikhail Kouliavtsev, department chair and professor of economics at SFA. “The uncertainty created by the virus is having a cross-cut influence on all sectors of the economy, affecting households, businesses and financial markets.”

Dr. Mikhail Kouliavtsev, Department Chair and Professor of Economics
Stephen F. Austin State University

With an estimated 67 million Americans working in jobs that are labeled as “high risk” for layoffs, Kouliavtsev offered some insight into several aspects of the world crisis, especially as it relates to economics.
Kouliavtsev recommends doing four things if you’ve been laid off.
  • Immediately file for unemployment. Most state unemployment offices are overwhelmed and understaffed, so delays are likely. The sooner you act, the faster you can get in the queue.
  • Talk to your landlord, mortgage lender, utility provider and/or credit card issuer. Many are offering some sort of bill “holiday” to help customers. If not, ask if they will be flexible. You won’t be the only one asking.
  • Focus on keeping everyone in your household healthy. Other expenses can be postponed.
  • Resist the urge to liquidate your retirement account. The penalty for early withdrawal added to the tax liability will eat a substantial chunk of your funds, which will be difficult to rebuild.

Stock Market

Kouliavtsev believes the stock market will continue to bounce around as long as there is uncertainty about the pandemic or until we have hit the peak of new infections and deaths from COVID-19, and the health care system can manage the flow of the sick. When we know there are treatments and a vaccine in development, we will have a better idea of the timeline of this crisis, and then the market can begin to stabilize.

Retirement Accounts

According to Kouliavtsev, those very near retirement likely already had most of their retirement funds out of the stock market and in something less volatile, like fixed-income bonds, before the crisis hit. For those who did not, postponement of retirement may be necessary to allow fund recovery. Kouliavtsev warns that panicking and selling investments now may have dire consequences, as those who have already lost due to the market plunge will miss the opportunity for fund recovery.

Stimulus Package

“It will help, but it also will not be nearly enough,” Kouliavtsev said. “Hopefully, it is a down payment on a much larger investment the government will have to make to help the American people.” For individuals approved to receive the $1,200, Kouliavtsev believes it won’t go very far; especially when the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the U.S. is about $1,100, and many people have already been without income for more than a month. Another difficulty Kouliavtsev sees is making the stimulus package work in its intended fashion — to stimulate the economy — when stores, restaurants and service industries are closed, and people are instructed to stay home.

Paying for Government Spending

Significantly increasing government spending — as this stimulus package requires — without immediately raising taxes will mean running a large budget deficit. While this debt accumulation typically is a major concern for long-term growth, interest rates are at some of the lowest levels in history, practically zero. When taking inflation into account, rates are effectively negative, meaning the government can essentially borrow at no cost. In other words, if there was ever a time for the federal government to spend freely and not worry about the debt it accumulates it’s now. Because of the severity of the pandemic, it is important to focus on the “public” before we worry about “public debt.”


Kouliavtsev said typically, a significant plunge in the stock market is a good time to invest, if the investment is made with the long term in mind. As far as real estate, mortgage rates are low, and we are headed into summer, which generally signify a favorable time to buy. However, it is not easy to shop for a home due to the actual steps involved in buying — attending open houses, meeting with bankers and real estate professionals, etc., due to social distancing guidelines.

Job Growth

Since many people have been in quarantine and isolated with only their computers and the internet to keep them company, Kouliavtsev believes the U.S. will see an increase in tech-related occupations, like coding and data science. He also said it will be interesting to see how health care will be affected. “It was already a sector that needed reforming before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kouliavtsev said. “But it was primarily the cost of health care and insurance coverage that were the main issues. We are now seeing that having adequate hospital and ICU bed capacity may be just as important, as is staffing, including doctors, nurses and other health care workers. We may see a concerted effort to invest in health care more broadly, and that will expand the job opportunities in these careers.”

Impact on Higher Education

With most institutions switching to an online instruction format, students are not physically on campus, and therefore there is less revenue being generated from housing, meal plans and fees students pay for things like the use of on-campus computer labs, recreation facilities, library resources, etc. SFA will be refunding approximately $9 million to students for services like these for the 2020 spring semester. This type of revenue loss will hit higher education hard, especially private colleges. Kouliavtsev said there are some bright spots. We typically see higher enrollments in colleges and universities during recessions because scarce employment opportunities during economic downturns make people want to attain skills, certifications and degrees to help improve their employability. And, to the extent students and their families may want to stay close to home in these uncertain times, regional institutions, like SFA, may be in a good position to fulfill their missions — serving the region. SFA, for example, may be an excellent destination for students from the East Texas area who planned to attend college in Austin or College Station, but now want to stay closer to home.

Student Adjustment

“I am quite impressed with how our students accepted foregoing their spring break, not being able to participate in study abroad trips in May and summer, and for some, not being able to attend their own commencement ceremony with their families,” Kouliavtsev said. “The transition to online classes is not easy — for students or professors — but it seems everyone understands the circumstances and is trying to make it work.”

Positive Outlook

Eventually, things will return to normal — although our day-to-day lives may be forever altered. And as difficult as the past several weeks have been, Kouliavtsev said there are some positives to take away. First, we will have learned a great deal about how to manage a crisis. They don’t come around very often, but pandemics do happen, and we will be better equipped to handle the next public health crisis, know how much and what kinds of stimulus packages are needed, and have a better idea of the timeline involved. Second, some of the personal hygiene habits we have been encouraged to practice — regular and thorough handwashing, covering a cough, being mindful of face touching — may help us reduce the spread of other illnesses, including influenza. This could translate into substantial savings to employers from fewer people missing work, less strain on the health care system and fewer lives lost. Third, people quarantined to their homes are spending more time with their families, cooking and eating together, possibly learning new skills and taking online classes. “There is definite value in all of these activities,” Kouliavtsev said.

April 14, 2020 - Art education students and faculty at Stephen F. Austin State University have created a series of YouTube videos designed to provide art instruction for students who are at home instead of in the classroom as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
The tutorials, which range from lessons in drawing techniques and photography skills to the Raku firing process, were created to meet the needs of teachers and parents who are homeschooling art classes. The videos are accompanied by lesson plans that can be easily used by teachers/parents and students, according Dr. Maggie Leysath, professor of art education in the SFA School of Art.
“We decided to create this YouTube channel to help K-12 teachers who are now required to create video content for their classrooms,” Leysath said. “These videos can be used for sketchbook assignments or for unit artwork assignments. Really, these videos are great for parents to use as well, since the projects are relevant and so much fun.”
Creating the channel also helped to address the challenges art education students were facing due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Leysath said.
“Since the curriculum for Spring 2020 included numerous opportunities for art education students to teach children in our local schools and at the Boys & Girls Club, which was no longer possible, it became clear that providing online instruction was now a necessary experience and skill for future art educators,” Leysath explained. “This channel and the content the art education students are creating is excellent experience for them in our ‘new normal’ world.”
The first two videos, portrait drawing basics and Raku firing, were created by Leysath as a way to get the channel up and running. The channel was viewed 708 minutes in the two weeks of March, when these videos were first available. And there’s more to come.
“The topics will be as varied as the art education students are themselves,” Leysath said. “Currently, there is a video for one-point perspective, one for creating dramatic photographs using your phone, and a really fun emoji lesson.” Videos will be added as students create them.
“We’ve discovered that quarantined and socially isolated people of all ages are thrilled with the opportunity to learn and grow,” Leysath said, adding she has received several self-portraits from her social media connections. “These videos offer a variety of ways to learn and try out art again.”
Art education students will continue to provide instructional videos during the month of June as an alternative to the two SFA art academy camps that were canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.
The art lessons are provided as a service and are not to be used for profit, according to Leysath.

April 14, 2020 - With artists and performance groups worldwide looking at all forms of technology to make sure the show goes on, the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre will present its biennial Festival of New American Plays virtually with a slightly altered schedule.

East Texans and audiences across the country can still be among the firsts to hear the newest works by three acclaimed playwrights through staged readings on the School of Theatre’s YouTube channel beginning April 22.

The biennial event showcases the work of some of the best playwrights in the nation in a festival during which each selected play is presented in staged readings by SFA theatre students, according to Jack Heifner, SFA School of Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, director of the festival and one of the featured authors.

The 2020 festival highlights new works by Heifner; Dallas-based writer, actor, director and SFA theatre alum Matt Lyle; and Caroline Aaron, television, stage and film actress most recently known for her role as Shirley Maisel in the TV series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

The challenge this year, Heifner said, has been “to wrap our heads around the technology.” CC Conn, associate professor of theatre, has been busy learning the intricacies of Zoom and YouTube platforms and teaching herself how to livestream, with the help of Theunis Oliphant, technology coordinator in SFA’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

“In order to provide better stability to our performance, I have found myself doing many things to obtain and provide ethernet cables and adapters to students, as relying on Wi-Fi causes a lot of glitches in the video,” Conn said. “And we certainly do not want students to undertake expenses or risk going into the public to remedy this situation. So I have been ordering cables and adapters as needed and getting them mailed to the students as quickly as possible. But it has all been very challenging and exciting.”

And students are embracing the challenge, Heifner said.

“We have wonderful student actors scattered all over Texas, and we come together for rehearsals on Zoom,” he said. “It's been like having them back in the Fine Arts Building again. The challenges are enormous, especially with sound and Wi-Fi lags, but we are experimenting all the time.

“The Festival of New American Plays has been a highlight of our season every other year since 1998,” Heifner added. “The students are thrilled we are continuing the tradition. I have not heard one person complain. It's all about ‘let's do it.’”

Student leaders are Production Stage Manager Ash Whiting, Deer Park junior, and Assistant Director Gareth Phipps, Dallas senior, plus three stage managers. “The casts have been so eager, so happy to do this, so excited that they can act again this semester for an audience and also to do these wonderful new plays by Caroline Aaron and Matt Lyle,” Heifner said.

The festival will feature “The Curse of Plenty,” which is Heifner’s play that takes place at a dinner party where there’s only imaginary food and drink and two triangles of lovers competing for attention. Heifner describes it as “a chilling yet, at the same time, very funny view of our possible future – when greed, conspicuous consumption and human willfulness have, at last, plundered the planet and reduced the circumstances of human life to a subsistence level.”

Lyle’s “The Texas Devil” is an outrageous comedy about a small-town attorney, her football coach husband and her teenage son all trying to cope with instant celebrity, Sean Hannity, Fox News and a visiting Satanist.

Aaron’s “Such a Pretty Face” is a play about many types of women as they confront issues about their appearance, the ideas of “beauty” as shown in the media, and the constant bombardment of programs designed to make people lose weight, the playwright explains.

“The play is funny and touching in its examination of how we see ourselves, how we think others see us and how we want to be seen,” Heifner said.

Livestreams are at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeXFQChOdCd8zf094sQ0jXg with “Curse of Plenty at 6:30pm Wednesday, April 22; “The Texas Devil” at 6:30pm Thursday, April 23; and “Such a Pretty Face” at 6:30pm Friday, April 24. The readings will be lightly edited then published on theatre’s YouTube channel April 27 through May 3. Matt Reynolds, assistant professor of lighting, sound and video design at the University of Alabama, is assisting Conn in creating the visual details of the edited videos. There will also be a live-streamed question-and-answer session with the playwrights at 2pm Friday, April 24. The plays are recommended for mature audiences.

Jack Heifner

Heifner is the author of more than 30 plays and musicals produced in New York, Los Angeles and theatres around the world. He is best known for the play version of “Vanities,” which ran for five years in New York and became one of the longest-running plays in Off-Broadway history. His musicals include “Leader of the Pack” on Broadway and “Vanities - A New Musical” in New York and London. He has also worked in television and film.

Heifner has been playwright-in-residence at SFA since 1997. Each spring, he teaches playwriting and screenwriting and has directed many SFA shows. He founded The Festival of New American Plays in 1998, and over the years, the school has presented the new works of Beth Henley, James McLure, Carol Hall, David Ives, Tina Howe, Constance Congdon, John Cariani, Getchen Cryer, William M. Hoffman and many others. Heifner is a member of The Dramatists Guild, The Writers’ Guild of America and Actors Equity Association, and he has been inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters and The Texas Playwriting Hall of Fame.

Matt Lyle

Lyle’s plays have been produced across the U.S. His plays, “The Boxer,” “Hello Human Female,” “Barbecue Apocalypse” and “Big Scary Animals” all garnered DFW Theater Critics Forum Awards for "Outstanding New Play." “Barbecue Apocalypse” was nominated for an American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award. Lyle has been commissioned by Theatre Three, Dallas Theater Center and Audacity Theatre Lab. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild and the Playwright’s Center and was honored as the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus of the SFA School of Theatre. His work is published by Broadway Play Publishing.

Caroline Aaron

Aaron made her debut in motion pictures with a small part in Robert Altman’s “Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” in 1982. Since, she has built her acting career as a character actress and has worked with some of cinema’s most significant directors, including Woody Allen and the late Mike Nichols. She has appeared in numerous TV series, among them “Madam Secretary,” “Grey’s Anatomy,“ Desperate Housewives,” “Modern Family” and “2 Broke Girls.” She had a recurring role in “The Young and the Restless” and appeared in movies “21 Jump Street” and “22 Jump Street,” “Our Family Wedding,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Working Girl” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” among others. She stars on the hit series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“Caroline and Matt have been with us all the way,” Heifner said. “Whatever we've proposed, they are all for it. I only wish we could all be together in person. However, this is the next best thing, and we are giving it our best. I truly hope our friends who've supported the festival all these years will join us. The tradition continues, and the plays are wonderful, and so are the students.”

The plays are recommended for mature audiences. Visit the School of Theatre at theatre.sfasu.edu.

April 8, 2020 - Three Stephen F. Austin State University students received first place honors for their research presentations at the annual Ecological Integration Symposium.

Jordan Griffin and Zachary Hutchens, both SFA biology majors, won first place in the symposium-wide undergraduate poster contest for their project investigating potential impacts of the non-native Sheepshead minnow on the Red River Pupfish, a species native to Texas.

Connor Adams, an SFA forestry graduate student, won first place in the symposium’s graduate student division that focused on fish and reptiles with his oral presentation titled “Trophic and Community Structure of Snake Assemblages in Shortleaf Pine Forests with Different Management Regimes.”

The annual symposium, which generally draws leading scientists and students from across the fields of ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation to the Texas A&M College Station campus, was held virtually this year as a result of health restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"These results show our students are producing high-quality research that is valued by their colleagues,” said Dr. Christopher Schalk, SFA assistant professor of forest wildlife management. “It also shows they can effectively disseminate their results and communicate their ideas using distance-learning platforms."  

April 3, 2020 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s online special education and English as a second language master’s degrees were ranked among the top 25 best value online degrees in their respective categories by Optimal, a resource that helps prospective students make informed, data-driven decisions to improve their collegiate experience and their post-college careers.

In addition, SFA’s educational leadership, secondary education and special education master’s degrees were listed among the top 25 most affordable online degrees in their respective categories.

“The faculty and staff in each of SFA’s online graduate education programs are ready to meet students where they are and work with them to achieve their goals,” said Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education. “We know our online students often have professional and family obligations, so we try to accommodate those while providing a high-quality education their future students will benefit from.”

Optimal published its 2020 Best Value Colleges rankings at GuidetoOnlineSchools.com for 121 programs. The rankings are based on degree-level and program-specific tuition rates and salary data. The salary figures reflect median midcareer salaries of graduates to show the 10-year return on investment.

For students interested in online accredited degrees with the lowest cost, Optimal released its 2020 Most Affordable Online Colleges rankings at OnlineU.org. These 152 program rankings highlight schools making an effort to provide an economical option for prospective students.

For more information about these online SFA master’s programs, email Belinda Davis, graduate coordinator for the Perkins College of Education, at coegrad@sfasu.edu.

March 31, 2020 - Amid new city and county stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Stephen F. Austin State University student teachers are still helping children in the Nacogdoches Independent School District (NISD) learn.

Student teachers in SFA’s Community Responsiveness and Engaged Advocacy in Teacher Education program, or C.R.E.A.T.E., have planned live activity lessons from 2 to 3pm CDT on Mondays and 10 to 11am CDT on Wednesdays via Zoom through May 6.

Students and their families can register for these free Zoom sessions at the following links:

Monday sessions: https://tinyurl.com/vsgfyu5

Wednesday sessions: https://tinyurl.com/yx8ado6w

Suggested materials will be listed for each activity, and recordings of the sessions will be posted on the Supporters of Nacogdoches ISD Facebook group.

“We know that not all NISD students and families can access online activity lessons, but we wanted to do something to give back to the NISD community that has supported and contributed to the training of our C.R.E.A.T.E. student teachers over the past few semesters,” said Dr. Lauren Burrow, an associate professor in SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education.

The lessons include art activities and science experiments designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and C.R.E.A.T.E. student teachers are working to expand the topics and grade levels.

Though student teachers haven’t been able to practice teach in classrooms because of the pandemic, the online teaching format is providing them with valuable experience.

Paiten Seago, a special education senior from Forney, is one of the student teachers presenting activities during the sessions. After her first online lesson, she said, “Thank you for that opportunity! I really enjoyed it. I realized that this is all for a bigger purpose than me. Seeing students filled my teacher heart up!”

C.R.E.A.T.E. mentor families are showing their appreciation for the student teachers’ efforts through posts on the Facebook group.

"This is so great! Friends, if you’re at home and you’ve hit the wall with your children with home schooling, or you’re looking for some fun structure for your kiddos, this is just what you need to give it a shot in the arm,” said Linda Autrey, a mother of two in a C.R.E.A.T.E. mentor family and director of Advanced Academics for NISD. “Mine had fun doing the activities this morning because there was real interaction from the student teachers and professors.”

The demand for the lessons was already increasing before the city and county of Nacogdoches issued a stay-at-home order, according to Dr. Heather Olson Beal, a professor in the Perkins College of Education who worked with Burrow to launch C.R.E.A.T.E. in 2018.

“Based on the feedback we got during our first week, we really think these lessons are helping families who found themselves thrust into at-home education responsibilities,” Olson Beal said. “Even though the live, interactive sessions offer a chance for students to ask questions directly, we’re also posting the recordings for families with time-related conflicts and for students and educators living in different time zones.”

In addition to local students, teachers and librarians, educators from as far away as Hawaii are viewing the recordings, Burrow said.

Students of all ages are enjoying the online activities, Burrow added.

Linsey Taylor, librarian at Emeline Carpenter Elementary School in Nacogdoches, said, “I have had a great time learning in these classes!”

For more information, join the Facebook group or email burrowle@sfasu.edu.


March 26, 2020 - Among music industry professionals and educators in Texas and throughout the U.S., the name of Darrell Holt is synonymous with jazz excellence.

The late Holt, former associate professor of music at Stephen F. Austin State University, is among the inductees in the inaugural class of the Texas Jazz Educators Association’s Hall of Fame. The announcement was made at last month’s Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio where some of Holt’s former colleagues from SFA, former students and admirers from across the nation heard the news.

Darrell Holt

Dr. Deb Scott, professor of trombone in the SFA School of Music, was among those who spoke during the induction ceremony that honored Holt’s legacy and included the announcement of six additional first-class inductees. Among those were two other people with strong jazz connections to SFA – music alumnus Wayne Dyess, ’70 and ’71, and a former director of the Swingin’ Axes jazz band and former chairman of the SFA music department, Gene Hall.

Scott spoke of how Holt “left a lasting impression on our faculty and students,” she said.

Laura Holt Treadaway, Holt’s widow, expressed great appreciation for the honor and the acknowledgement of Holt’s love of music.

“What a wonderful honor this is for Darrell to be selected, along with these other amazing jazz musicians, to be inducted into the TJEA Hall of Fame,” she said. “Our family is so, so proud for him and so grateful to all those responsible for making his nomination possible. What a wonderful tribute to him, and we know he would have given all the glory to God for this honor and for his talent.”

Holt taught various jazz courses, arranging and music theory at SFA from 1968 to 2000. According to his biography published by Northeastern Music Publications Incorporated, Holt was a nationally recognized jazz instrumental and vocal clinician during most of his life. Holt performed extensive work in recording studios as a conductor, arranger, composer and performer, having produced more than 40 albums. Among his Nashville studio work was for a CD for then young country music artist LeAnn Rimes. As a performer, Holt was an accomplished pianist, vocalist and trumpeter. He worked with such nationally recognized entertainers as Rich Little, Bob Hope and B.J. Thomas. Holt's works have been performed by the San Antonio, Dallas and Nashville symphonies, as well as the Symphony of Southeast Texas and the Kingwood Pops. He received numerous commissions, including a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Holt passed away from heart complications in 2000. Donations to an SFA scholarship honoring Holt can be made at https://forms.sfasu.edu/giving/onlinegift.asp?give-to-other=Darrell+Holt+Music+Scholarship.

Dyess graduated with a Bachelor of Music from SFA, where he was selected as music alumnus of the year in 1990 and inducted into the School of Music Wall of Honor. He earned his Master of Music from The Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and Doctor of Education from the University of Houston, having also completed additional graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin. Dyess was also the principal trombonist with the Symphony of Southeast Texas and performed regularly throughout the United States and internationally with several groups, including Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band and the Brass Band of Battle Creek (Michigan). From 1970 to 1974, Dyess was trombone soloist and section leader of the “World’s Finest” United States Navy Band. Dyess joined the music faculty at Lamar University in 1977. He was professor of trombone and director of jazz studies at Lamar University upon his death in 2013.

A saxophonist, arranger and music educator, Hall graduated with an M.A. from North Texas State Teachers College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton, and after playing with a number of bands in Texas and working in radio, began teaching at his alma mater in 1947. He received his doctorate from New York University. Hall's North Texas State dance band was selected as the best in America among college groups by the American Federation of Musicians in 1959. Hall developed a jazz program at Michigan State University, where he had accepted a teaching position. He later served as chairman of the music department at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, and at SFA. He was a principal mover in the formation in 1968 of the National Association of Jazz Educators and served as its first president. Hall received the Hall of Fame Award from the International Association of Jazz Educators in 1981. In 1992 he received the Down Beat Achievement Award for Jazz Education. Hall died in Denton in 1993. The Dr. M. E. "Gene" Hall Award, given at the annual North Texas Jazz Festival in Addison, was named in his honor.

Others named to the inaugural class were John Murphy, Leon Breeden, Conrad Johnson and Edward Trongone.

Stephen F. Austin State University Professor of Theatre Angela Bacarisse works on a homemade hat she is constructing for medical professionals who are combating COVID-19 during a medical supply shortage.

March 24, 2020 (Nacogdoches) – Standing outside a window of the School of Theatre costume shop at Stephen F. Austin State University, a Nacogdoches volunteer waited for a faculty member to hand her a package of elastic and cotton fabric. The items will be used to assemble surgical mask coverings to be used by local hospitals.

Inside the shop, located on the bottom floor of SFA’s Griffith Fine Arts Building, Angela Bacarisse, Stephen F. Austin State University theatre professor, and shop supervisor Barbara Blackwell were safely distanced from each other as they sewed more mask coverings, as well as hats.

Their work, along with the work of a small band of local seamstresses they have organized, is part of a grassroots effort in communities across the nation to help support local medical communities in combatting the spread of COVID-19.

“We saw on the internet that everybody is doing this,” Bacarisse said, adding that hospitals in various parts of the country have solicited assistance online and through social media to construct the masks using a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-compliant pattern. “I wondered if there was really a need here, so I reached out to a representative from SFA’s Dewitt School of Nursing, who put me in contact with representatives from local hospitals, and they said ‘yes!’”

Kristine Sutton, chief nursing officer at Nacogdoches Memorial Health, said she was thrilled the costume shop and seamstresses are banding together to make a difference for health care workers on the front lines of a scary and unpredictable situation.

“The staff members are worried about protecting their patients and themselves to the highest degree possible, because they’re in such close proximity to patients and the virus is so contagious,” Sutton said. “We can’t take care of sick people if we’re not healthy. It’s really touching that these community members are using their own skills to be part of our team providing that front line of defense.”

Bacarisse and Blackwell have been joined by faculty and staff from other SFA departments, community members and some costume shop alumni to assemble the items. They are using fabric from home, as well as stockpiled fabric from the costume shop, along with fabric donations from the public. Hospital officials will pick up the finished items.

While a handmade mask does not offer the kind of protection that health care professionals really need, layering the handmade masks with reused surgical masks can provide another layer of protection. Using cotton fabric, the masks are assembled in such a way that N95 masks or respirators can slide inside. The do-it-yourself masks also can serve as a reminder to not touch the face.

“I’ll be honest, when I first heard about the idea of home-sewn masks, I was skeptical because the masks we typically use are medical grade and disposable for infection control reasons,” Sutton said. “But these masks are going to be a great second-line barrier for our staff. We’ll protect our medical grade masks behind the sewn masks, and at the end of the day, we can take them off and throw them in the wash. Our staff will be so relieved to know that they’re guaranteed a clean start at the beginning of their next shift.”

Bacarisse and Blackwell each said they have underlying health issues that put them at greater risk for contracting the virus, and they wanted to do their part to help during the public health crisis.

“We want to support the medical community in any way we can, and we have the skills to do this,” Bacarisse said.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help sew the masks and hats may contact Bacarisse at abacarisse@sfasu.edu.

March 23, 2020 Nacogdoches — To assist in efforts to keep the Nacogdoches community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephen F. Austin State University has closed the Steen Library, Homer Bryce Stadium and Johnson Coliseum to the public.

Steen Library will remain open during modified hours for faculty, staff and students, according to Jonathan Helmke, director of the library. Faculty, staff and students should consult the library’s website for its latest hours of operation.

Homer Bryce Stadium and Johnson Coliseum will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future, said Ryan Ivey, director of athletics at SFA.

“While we understand and appreciate that members of our community enjoy using the track and stadium on a regular basis, unfortunately, the guidelines from the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies require us to close our facilities to ensure the health of Nacogdoches citizens at this time,” Ivey said.

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus on the SFA campus, but university leaders have established several precautions, including canceling on-campus events and classes for the remainder of the semester.

To learn more about SFA’s COVID-19 response, visit sfasu.edu/covid19.