SFA University

July 15, 2022 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host its annual Fabulous Fall Festival Plant Sale from 9am to 2pm on October 1st and 2nd at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St. in historic Nacogdoches.

The sale will feature an array of hard-to-find, “Texas-tough” plants, with an emphasis on native, pollinator-friendly selections, garden favorite perennials, and trees, including Japanese maples, magnolias and bald cypress. A list of all available plants will be posted on the SFA Gardens website two weeks before the sale.

This very popular event raises money for the operations of all the areas under the SFA Gardens umbrella: Mast Arboretum, PNPC, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, Gayla Mize Garden, Kingham Children’s Garden, Hinds Park and the alternative fruits research program.

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

For more information and a list of available plants, call (936) 468-4404 or visit sfasu.edu/sfagardens.

Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host its annual Fabulous Fall Festival Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2 at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St. in historic Nacogdoches.

The first test unit dug during the Sand Hill community archeological project. Found in the test unit were broken glass pieces believed to have been from a school window, nails, and a lid from what could have been a paint or tar can.

July 11, 2022 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s Dr. George Avery, staff archeologist and cultural heritage coordinator, along with volunteer archeological stewards from the Texas Historical Commission, began to unearth the history of an often-neglected gem in Nacogdoches County – the Sand Hill community.

Tucked between Melrose and Chireno along Highway 21 sits Sand Hill, a community established as a freedom colony — those in which African Americans settled after they were freed. To date, there are about 500 freedom colonies recorded in Texas.

According to Avery, researchers of that era often neglected or overlooked freedom colonies, leading to a lack of historical resources cataloging their rich cultures.

“The project is meant to introduce the Sand Hill community to the idea of learning about their past by using archeology,” Avery said. “There are not many historical documents about them, so what we’re doing here is providing information for the documents.”

As part of a grant, Avery, along with stewards and volunteers Lori Horne, Keith Stephens, John Jefferson and Archie Rison Jr., began the dig on June 27 at a location in the community that was believed to have been a Rosenwald School ­– a school built through support by the Rosenwald Fund, which was established to construct schools for African Americans between 1920 and 1932.

The group began the project by canvasing the area with a metal detector and marking areas where they hit a target. After that, they used ground-penetrating radar to look for areas of disturbed earth across the site.

It didn’t take long to find the first artifacts.

About an inch into the sand-filled, weed-ridden earth of their first test hole, the group found broken glass believed to have been from a school window, nails, and a lid from what could have been a paint or tar can.

“We are finding a surprising number of artifacts here,” Avery said.

Volunteer archeological steward Keith Stephens uses tools to inspect the initial dig, or test unit. Found in the test unit were broken glass pieces believed to have been from a broken school window, nails, and a lid from what could have been a paint or tar can.

Rison, a 1971 SFA graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, recalled fond memories of the short travel from his hometown Nacogdoches to Sand Hill to visit family on his mother’s side, as well as participating in the area’s ample hunting scene.

As what he considered a “kid from the big city of Nacogdoches” compared to the “country” of Sand Hill, Rison remembered it as a place that wasn’t rich financially but was rich in spirit.

“This was a thriving Black community at one time. It was really thriving. Were they rich? No, but they were rich in culture, heritage and togetherness. If a hog was killed, they didn’t mind sharing it.”

According to Avery, the first couple of days were an introduction, and the bulk of the work will commence when the heat begins to subside.

Avery hopes to present the stories of and artifacts found at Sand Hill in May 2023 during the Aya Symposium, a vehicle for the multidisciplinary exploration of Texas Freedom Colonies held in conjunction with the Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival.

“You learn what people did and what they used back in the day. It’s a learning process of human behavior,” Rison said, referencing the significance of the project.

Since the artifacts are from private property, they belong to the property owners. However, Avery has asked the owners to let SFA hold the artifacts until they are washed, photographed and analyzed. They will then be offered back to the property owners.

Anyone who thinks they may have familial ties to a Texas freedom colony and is interested in an archeological project in the community can contact Avery at averyg@sfasu.edu.

For more information about SFA’s Department of Anthropology, Geography and Sociology, visit sfasu.edu/anthrogeosoc.

Volunteer archeological stewards Keith Stephens, left, and John Jefferson place a grid over the test unit. The project is to introduce the Sand Hill community to the idea of learning about their past by using archeology.

June 8, 2022 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host a houseplant and succulent summer sale 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 9, 2022 at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center greenhouse, located at 2900 Raguet Street.

The sale will feature succulents, cacti and houseplants of various varieties, plus a few other exciting odds and ends. This will be a much smaller event than the SFA Gardens semi-annual plant sales and will offer a very specific selection of plants intended for indoor or special care.

Limited parking will be available at the PNPC greenhouse. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at or after 9 a.m. when the doors will open. For more information, call (936) 468-4404 or email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

June 7, 2022 — Two new Bachelor of Science degrees will be added to Stephen F. Austin State University’s offerings in the fall. The Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering will be housed in the College of Sciences and Mathematics and taught by faculty members in the Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy.

The Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges approved the new degree programs in June. Students can now enroll in the programs and begin working toward their degree when the fall semester begins Aug. 22.

“SFA currently offers an engineering physics degree with concentrations in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering,” said Dr. Matthew Beauregard, professor and interim chair of the Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy. “The engineering physics program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET recommended that SFA create parallel baccalaureate degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering. We will be seeking ABET accreditation for the new programs in the near future.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in mechanical and electrical engineering should grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030.

“The BLS estimates there will be more than 520,000 mechanical and electrical engineers employed in the U.S. by 2030,” Beauregard said. “Demand, coupled with salaries that hover around $100,000 a year, makes these careers a solid choice.”

The Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering will comprise 122 credit hours. The Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering will take 126 credit hours to complete. Each program will be offered on the Nacogdoches campus through face-to-face instruction utilizing facilities in the Cole STEM Building.

All current faculty members in the Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy will contribute to the program. Additional faculty members are slated to be added after initial enrollment goals are realized.

The steps to obtaining approval to offer these degree programs began in fall 2020 with a coordinated effort throughout SFA’s Division of Academic Affairs. They progressed to SFA’s Board of Regents in spring 2021. The process then had to meet the approval of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which was granted in April 2022. The recent approval by SACSCOC means the programs are ready to go.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for their vision and dedication,” Beauregard said. “This would not have been possible without the historical labors of faculty members within the department and administrators on this campus. I especially want to recognize the tremendous work by Dr. Dan Bruton, empowerment by our dean Dr. Kimberly Childs, leadership support by Dr. Lorenzo Smith, and the careful and concerted analysis done by Dr. Marc Guidry, John Calahan and Alisha Collins.

For more information about the degree programs, contact the Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy at engineering@sfasu.edu.

June 3, 2022 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Charter School was recently ranked the second best charter elementary school in Texas by U.S. News & World Report. The high ranking also marks the school’s first appearance on the media company’s gold standard list.

“It is with great pride that we receive this wonderful news regarding our ranking,” said Lysa Hagan, CEO and principal of the school. “This recognition belongs first to our dedicated, hard-working students who truly want to learn. Secondly, our success rests on the shoulders of our parents, who get them to school each day and support reading at home. Lastly, we have an exceptional group of teachers who support learning in the classrooms through rigor, urgency and a constructivist learning environment.”

The K-5 school is also listed as the fourth best in the state by educational rating agency Niche.

Located in the Janice A. Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center, the SFA Charter School opened in August 2008 with a focus on the twin goals of improving public education and enhancing the preparation of future educators and school psychologists.

The school has 255 students, 87% of which scored above the proficient level in both math and reading. Its minority student enrollment is 31%. The school enrolls 9% economically disadvantaged students.

To learn more, visit sfasu.edu/charterschool.

May 25, 2022 –– Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Les and Theresa Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 9 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St.

Dr. Allen Owings, longtime educator and professor emeritus of horticulture at the Louisiana State University AgCenter, will present “Super Flowers, Super Shrubs and Super Trees for a Super Landscape.”

Born and raised in Hammond, Louisiana, Allen received his bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University, a master’s degree from Louisiana State University, and a doctoral degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University in 1991. Owings retired in 2017 after 26 years of educational service, which included serving as coordinator for the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plant program.

Owings has provided statewide extension service programming for nursery growers, landscapers, garden centers, and to master and home gardeners. Currently, Owings is employed as a senior horticulturist at Bracy’s Nursery in Amite, Louisiana, and horticulturist at Clegg’s Nursery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There, Owings works in education, outreach, social media and new plant production, and connects with nursery professionals and landscapers across the country.

The Les and Theresa Reeves Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month. It is preceded by an attendee social at 6:30 p.m., and a rare plant raffle will follow the program. The lecture is free and open to the public, but donations to the Les and Theresa 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.

May 23, 2022 — Business owners, travel and tourism professionals, and local economic development leaders are invited to the Stephen F. Austin State University campus to attend the Deep East Texas Travel and Tourism Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Twilight Ballroom.

The conference is the first in a series of travel and tourism sessions that are part of the larger Deep East Texas Travel and Tourism Collaborative. The collaborative focuses on enhancing the preparedness of the region’s tourism workforce, developing new travel packages to attract external guests, improving existing travel and tourism practices and services, and strengthening and diversifying the regional economy.

“I am very excited to collaborate with this organization to help establish the best experience for destinations across the region,” said Dr. Gina Fe G. Causin, associate professor of human sciences at SFA.

To register for the conference, fill out the online form at tinyurl.com/DEEPETXTravel.

The DETTTC is a joint collaboration between faculty members at SFA and Tarleton State University.

“As a fifth generation East Texan and SFA grad, I am excited to promote rural travel in the East Texas area,” said Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards, professor of communication at Tarleton.

For more information, contact Causin at causingf@sfasu.edu or Edwards at jtedwards@tarleton.edu.

Dr. Mario Ajero, professor of piano at SFA, instructs a group of Music Prep piano students. Registration for Music Preparatory summer programs is underway.

May 21, 2022 – Registration continues for summer lessons and camps offered by the Music Preparatory Division of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music.

Private lessons will be offered in piano, voice, cello, violin/viola, and trumpet. Summer lessons begin on Monday, May 23, and continue through Friday, July 29. Private lesson schedules will depend on students’ and teachers’ summer availability and can be for four, six, eight or 10 total lessons.

Piano group classes will be offered for children and adult students. Learn to read music, play chords and create music with others in a variety of music styles. These group classes will be offered from Monday, June 27, through Thursday, June 30.

Kindermusik classes are offered for children ages 0 through 6. Kindermusik is an early childhood music and movement program based on the belief that every child is musical, every parent is the child’s most important teacher, and the home is the most important place for learning. Based on research, music nurtures a child’s cognitive, emotional, social, language and physical development. Classes begin on May 23 and continue through August 4 on varying schedules, dates and times, depending on age. Cost is $70 per month with sibling discounts available.

Registration forms and more information, including detailed schedules and private lesson tuition, can be accessed at sfamusicprep.com/summer-flex-lessons, or contact Music Prep Director Alba Madrid at musicprep@sfasu.edu, or call (936) 468-1291. The Music Prep House is located at 3028 Raguet St.

David Kaiser, director of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Chadwick Family Banking Program, will teach several of the courses offered as part of its new Banking Essentials Certificate.

May 19, 2022 — Beginning this fall, the Chadwick Family Banking Program in Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business will offer banking professionals access to essential industry courses, allowing them to earn a professional certification in banking.

Designed for banking professionals who do not have an undergraduate banking degree, the 15-hour Banking Essentials Certificate can be completed via livestream and/or in person over one to two years.

“The flexibility of this program helps participants maintain a good work-life balance,” said David Kaiser, director of the Chadwick Family Banking Program and an instructor for several of the certificate courses.

“Bankers working toward the certificate can close their office doors, attend class over Zoom and immediately resume working after,” he added. “We are using the remote meeting capacities developed during COVID-19 as a platform that allows emerging leaders in banking to attend and participate in actual college courses in real time.”

The certificate also can assist banking and human resources managers in providing a path for professional development and promotion to emerging leaders in banking.

“The banking industry is committed to developing skilled professionals, and some managers are willing to incorporate this type of professional development into the workday, as well as help finance professional development,” said Dr. Miles McCall, executive vice president of Commercial Bank of Texas in Nacogdoches.

With scholarships available through the banking program and potential tuition reimbursement opportunities through employers who want to develop emerging banking leaders, the certificate is a great investment, Kaiser added.

“The path to career advancement in the banking industry has never been more flexible, obtainable and affordable,” he said.

Courses include Introduction to Investments, Banking Fundamentals, Selling Financial Products and Services, Commercial Bank Management, and Commercial Bank Lending.

For more information, visit sfasu.edu/ecofin/academics/banking or email Kaiser at kaiserdr@sfasu.edu.

May 17, 2022 – Registration is underway for Junior Jacks Theatre Camp at Stephen F. Austin State University. The popular two-week School of Theatre camp is designed for children entering third through ninth grades. This year’s camp is scheduled for Monday through Friday, July 25 through 29, and Aug. 1 through 5, with play performances on Saturday, Aug. 6.

Junior Jacks was designed as a day-camp version of the highly successful High School Summer Theatre Workshop at SFA, according to Carolyn Conn, professor of theatre at SFA and the camp’s director. The fun and exciting summer camp, offered in two age groups, fills quickly, and Conn suggested parents register their children early.

“We have children representing all local and nearby schools as well as many home-schooled children,” Conn said. “There are also many repeat campers. Many Junior Jacks ‘graduates’ go on to attend the High School Summer Theatre Workshop at SFA. We also have former Junior Jack/High School Workshop participants who become theatre majors at SFA. The camp is a great introduction to what we offer in the School of Theatre.”

The camp has expanded its capacity in recent years, so more students can participate, Conn said.

“As the School of Theatre’s teacher certification program grows and has incorporated the camp into its ‘Directing for the Youth’ course, we have a large number of student directors available to work with the children,” she said. “Additional teachers mean we have room for additional campers! So, we are aiming for another increase in campers this year.”

Junior Jacks is a community outreach opportunity designed to not only introduce children to theatre, but it also allows the School of Theatre’s teacher certification students to work with students who are younger than high school age. Junior Jacks campers play theatre games and rehearse plays that will be performed at the camp’s conclusion.

Registration cost is $85 per student and $60 for each additional sibling within a single family. Needs-based scholarships may be available. The camp is co-sponsored in partnership with Nacogdoches Arts Collaborative. More information and a registration form can be found at theatre.sfasu.edu, or contact Conn at (936) 468-1031 or conncs@sfasu.edu.