SFA University

February 10, 2023 — Stephen F. Austin State University's SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. March 9 in the Pineywoods Native Plant Center’s Brundrett Conservation Education Building.

Greg Grant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist for Smith County, will present “Making Scents of the Genus Narcissus.”

Grant is a lifetime member of the Southern Garden History Society, the Native Plant Society of Texas and the Texas Bluebird Society. In addition to authoring a number of gardening books, Grant writes the column, “In Greg’s Garden,” for Texas Gardener magazine; the blog, “Greg’s Ramblings,” at arborgate.com; and a weekly garden column in the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Additionally, he hosts Facebook pages Greg Grant Gardens and Rebel Eloy Emanis Pine Savanna and Bird Sanctuary.

Grant currently is working on a doctorate in forestry at SFA and, along with his wife, tends his late grandparents’ deep East Texas farmhouse, his Rebel Eloy Emanis Pine Savanna and Bird Sanctuary, a dozen laying hens, two cats, and one Jack Russell terrier.

The Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month. A rare plant raffle will follow 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 2708 Raguet Street.

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

February 7, 2023 — Self-described poet, activist and educator Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton will serve as the keynote speaker for Stephen F. Austin State University’s ninth annual Diversity Conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, February 10 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center.

“Deborah is not only a poet but also a storyteller, coach and educator,” said Dr. Veronica Beavers, deputy chief diversity officer and director of SFA’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. “We’re thrilled to have her as this year’s keynote speaker and to be able to watch her put the weight of her experiences, activism, and unique perspectives into a keynote that speaks to this year’s theme of everyday inclusion.”

Internationally known for her written works, Mouton is poet laureate emeritus of Houston. Her recent poetry collection, “Newsworthy,” garnered her a Pushcart nomination, was named a finalist for the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award, and received an honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, titled "Berichtenswert," was released in summer 2021 by Elif Verlag.

Her most recent choreopoem, “PLUMSHUGA: The rise of Lauren Anderson,” debuted at Stages Houston in October and was recently mentioned in the New York Times fall preview. Her upcoming memoir, “Black Chameleon,” explores the use of modern mythology as a path to social commentary and has ties to the collaborative art exhibit "_____ as Myth," which was on display at Rice University in January.

Hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the 2023 Diversity Conference theme “Inclusion as an Everyday Act: Setting Intentions for SFA’s Next Century” invites conference presenters to speak on how inclusion can be an approachable and livable act. Organizers will also incorporate discussions on the intended role of inclusion for SFA’s second century.

Presentations and workshops will take place throughout the day, and all will center on the daily actions one can take to create a more welcoming environment for diverse groups.

Check-in will open at 8:30 a.m. outside the student center’s Grand Ballroom before the opening session begins at 9 a.m. Developmental workshops and a discussion session will take place until the noon luncheon and keynote address.

As workshops and breakout sessions are ongoing, attendees are invited to experience several come-and-go activities, including a Diversity Art Gallery, collaborative mural art piece and beading workshop, among others.

Local nonprofit organizations also will be present during the morning sessions to share information about their inclusion and equity work within the community.

“Passive programming opportunities are new to this year’s conference,” Beavers said. “We will have sensory and relaxation stations, as well as interactive art activities within our Diversity Art Gallery. Additionally, this year's format will include expanded sessions that qualify for our DEI certification program, such as safe space training and interactive sessions.”

The conference is free and open to the public. To register for the conference and learn more, visit sfasu.edu/odei/diversityconference.

February 3, 2023 — Dr. David Creech, Stephen F. Austin State University professor emeritus of agriculture and director of SFA Gardens, will discuss plant grafting techniques during a workshop from 9 a.m. to noon March 11 at the Brundrett Conservation Education Building, located at 2900 Raguet Street.

"There's an art and a science to budding and grafting, and I learned both looking over the shoulder of an old nurseryman in Roans Prairie,” Creech said. “He was proud of his talent and said he could graft two fence posts together and make them stick. Both grafting and budding depend on the quality of the rootstock and scion, timing and the skill of the grafter. Once you do several thousand you can count yourself as skilled.”

The seminar will have a brief PowerPoint overview and then participants will get to try their hand at grafting with most of the needed supplies, including rootstocks, scions, grafting tape and rubber budding strips. Attendees should bring a small, sharp pocketknife. Participants will practice on a variety of plants and will take home their own grafted Japanese maple tree.

Register by calling (936) 468-4129 starting after 1pm February 6. The workshop is limited to 25 participants. The cost is $30 for SFA Gardens members and $40 for nonmembers.

Dr. David Creech, Stephen F. Austin State University professor emeritus of agriculture and director of SFA Gardens, will discuss plant grafting techniques during a workshop from 9 a.m. to noon March 11 at the Brundrett Conservation Education Building, located at 2900 Raguet Street.

Jim and Margaret Perkins were the recipients of this year’s Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award. The two were honored at an event Wednesday at Headliners Club in Austin. Pictured, from left, are Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun, president, The University of Texas at Tyler; Dr. Steve Westbrook, interim president, Stephen F. Austin State University; Jim and Margaret Perkins; Dr. Juan E. Mejia, president and CEO, Tyler Junior College; and Dr. J. Blair Blackburn, president, East Texas Baptist University

January 26,2023 — Presidents, chancellors and the leaders of more than 100 Texas higher education institutions honored Jim and Margaret Perkins from East Texas by naming them recipients of this year’s Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award during a ceremony held in Austin this week.

They were co-nominated by faculty and staff from Stephen F. Austin State University and Tyler Junior College. The nomination referred to their establishment in 2006 of the James I. Perkins Family Foundation, which was created to support students, institutions of higher education and communities in East Texas. The Perkins family has generously supported SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education, the Tyler Junior College Foundation, The University of Texas at Tyler, The University of Texas School of Law, and East Texas Baptist University.

“Margaret and I are honored to receive this recognition from such prestigious organizations representing institutions of higher education and applaud their collaborative efforts to promote higher education in the great state of Texas,” Jim Perkins said.

Margaret Perkins is a former junior high and high school English and history teacher. She also served as a librarian, substitute teacher and board member for the Rusk Independent School District. Jim Perkins served on SFA’s board of regents from 1969 to 1981 and spearheaded the development of the SFASU Foundation. He is an attorney serving as president and chair of the board with Citizens 1st Bank. He’s also known for celebrating the fact that more than half of the bank’s employees are SFA students or graduates.

Through their James I. Perkins Family Foundation, the couple continues to support student development, research grants and professorships at SFA. They have served as lead partners in the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce’s Nacogdoches Opportunity for Better Learning Experience, or NOBLE, since 2000. This program annually awards 20 students from Nacogdoches County scholarships to attend SFA.

“Jim and Margaret are longtime champions of SFA,” said Dr. Steve Westbrook, SFA’s interim president. “Together, they provide extraordinary support to the college of education with its mission of preparing competent, successful, caring and enthusiastic professional educators from diverse backgrounds. In addition, they support our JacksTeach program, which helps students in our science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs earn secondary STEM teaching certifications while earning degrees in their respective disciplines.”

The Perkins family is active in numerous civic and community activities in East Texas, including the Nacogdoches ISD Education Foundation and the Regents Academy in Nacogdoches.

Distinguished Service Award recipients are selected by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors and the Texas Association of Community Colleges. The award has been presented 43 times in the past 45 years.

January 25, 2023 - Stephen F. Austin State University has been recognized as an affordable institution by Colleges of Distinction, a new designation that helps cost-conscious students and families navigate complicated college financing information.

“How to pay for college is a near-universal question at the top of new students’ minds,” said Tyson Schritter, chief operating officer at Colleges of Distinction. “SFA has demonstrated to us that its students are graduating with manageable debt and careers that help them thrive.”

Fewer than 150 institutions received Colleges of Distinction’s affordable designation. Using institutional data published by the U.S. Department of Education, College of Distinction’s affordability list named institutions with low net prices that were directly proportional to student household income.

Rachele’ Garrett, SFA’s director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and interim executive director of enrollment management, said the university works hard to keep costs down and the quality of education high.

“With more than 80% of full-time undergraduate students receiving some type of financial assistance, SFA is providing quality academic programs that meet students’ needs,” Garrett said. “We also offer a host of scholarship and grant assistance programs for students.”

In addition to financial aid packages, the university provides a flat-rate tuition plan that allows students to pay a set rate for 12 or more credit hours.

“Students can take up to 21 credit hours for the cost of 12, and Student Business Services offers tuition programs that reduce the cost of pursuing an advanced degree,” Garrett said.

Beyond net price, Colleges of Distinction looked at the graduates’ median debt and mean earnings data. These were then controlled for each school’s location, size, public/private affiliation status and percentage of Pell grant recipients.

“Our affordable Colleges of Distinction are not just those with a low sticker price; they exemplify a solid return on a student’s investment.” Schritter said. “SFA has shown us that an engaging, real-world education doesn’t have to break the bank.”

For more information on SFA’s financial aid and scholarships, visit sfasu.edu/finaid.

January 24, 2023 - Stephen F. Austin State University’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies recently announced the 2023 recipients of the President’s Innovation Fund, which rewards efforts to enhance innovative recruitment, retention and teaching practices that focus on student success.

This year, there were 13 recipients — those included teams and individuals, faculty and staff — who received more than $145,000 in total awards. They are given to those who proposed novel ways to approach recruitment, retention, teaching and learning, with a particular focus on helping more students from all backgrounds to not only persist but to excel.

Highlights include a $34,000 award to Dr. Keith Hubbard, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Dr. Dipak Singh, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, to build on a multiyear effort to collect and analyze data on student engagement and success; and a $7,435 award to a team from the DeWitt School of Nursing to implement a three-day nursing summer camp for high school students.

Faculty members who received implementation awards in the previous cycle were invited to submit a follow-up proposal that focused on enhancing or refining the initial implementation project, with a second phase to replicate the project on a broader scale or across other disciplines.

Recipients will present the results of their projects in fall 2023. For a complete list of recipients and the awards they received, visit the President’s Innovation Fund.

December 27, 2022 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. January 12, 2023 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building in the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.

Ben Miller, director of landscape architecture with Lufkin-based design firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong, will present "Everything you wanted to know about pruning and training trees but were afraid to ask."

Miller is a registered landscape architect and is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. A 2012 graduate of the Texas A&M University College of Architecture, Miller specializes in the design of public works and education facilities, including environmentally sensitive sites and preservation of large and historic trees during construction. Miller previously served as the landscape architect for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Bryan district. He has been in the profession for 12 years.

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 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.

December 6, 2022 –– Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7pm December 8 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center.

Dr. David Creech, SFA Gardens director and professor emeritus of agriculture, will present “How Many Japanese Maples Are Enough? Well, It Depends on Who You Ask.”

After 30 years tending Japanese maples, SFA Gardens is now home to hundreds of varieties. Considered the best collection in the Gulf South, the end result shows lessons learned with this aristocrat of the small tree world. SFA Gardens also enjoys a wide swath of closely related and rarely seen Asian plant species. After thousands of years of selection, Japanese maples are amazingly diverse, beautiful and durable, provided a few rules of establishment. Join Creech as he reviews the best varieties; how to propagate, grow, prune and train Japanese maples; and where to buy them.

Creech received a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University in 1970, a Master of Science from Colorado State University in 1972, and his doctoral degree from Texas A&M University in 1978. Since arriving at SFA in 1978, Creech’s research interests have included urban tree evaluation; blueberry and golden kiwifruit evaluation; horticultural crop nutrition studies; new plant introductions for the ornamental horticulture industry; endangered native plant rescue, research and reintroduction; and finding sustainable solutions to environmental concerns.

Creech has authored numerous scholarly and trade articles and has accumulated a long list of international consultancies since 1981 to Pakistan, Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal, Israel, Chile, New Zealand and China. In 2022, he received the American Society for Horticultural Science Career Award for Outstanding International Horticulturalist, which recognizes an international horticulturist who has made an outstanding and valuable contribution to international horticultural science, education, research and/or outreach for a period of 10 or more years.

Creech has served as president of the Native Plant Society of Texas, the Southern Region American Society of Horticulture Science, and the International Plant Production Society Southern Region. He currently serves part time as director of SFA Gardens.

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 lecture series fund are always appreciated.

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

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

November 29, 2022 — After a comprehensive process evaluating affiliation with a university system, including responses and feedback from student, faculty, staff and alumni stakeholder groups, as well as the general public, the SFA Board of Regents voted during its special meeting today to accept the invitation of The University of Texas System to become a member institution.

In addition, the board approved a waiver of its rules regarding selection of the next SFA president so the search can begin under the presidential selection rules of the UT System Board of Regents.

SFA regents thanked all participants in the process, as well as the Nacogdoches community, for their work evaluating system affiliation and the proposals of the four systems SFA was invited to join. Their work began Aug. 22 and culminated in reports to the board on Oct. 30.

“We are excited about the enormous opportunities this affiliation will provide for our students, faculty and staff,” said Karen Gantt, SFA Board of Regents chair. “We know that the future of SFA will be enhanced by becoming a member of the leading university system in the country.”

Gantt led the board subcommittee that examined governance, financial and other matters regarding potential affiliation. In addition, she thanked the four systems involved — Texas A&M University System, Texas State University System, Texas Tech University System and The University of Texas System — stating “it has been our honor and privilege to work with these systems and all on their teams and to engage in meaningful and sincere dialogue about opportunities for SFA in their respective university system.”

Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, said UT’s regents and leadership deeply admire and respect SFA’s rich tradition and successful history.

“We are honored and enthusiastic about taking the next steps together in this process with confidence that this union will make each of us stronger,” he added. “Our proposal to SFA outlined our sincere commitment to helping the university build upon its programs, traditions and culture that have made the university unique for nearly a century, while adding resources to help amplify those strengths and ultimately serve more Texans.”

With today’s affiliation announcement, the next step is for SFA and UT System officials to collaborate with legislative leaders on the legislation that will enable this governance change during the upcoming session, SFA’s interim President Dr. Steve Westbrook explained.

“In addition, I will be working closely with system officials over the next few weeks as the search for the next SFA president begins, and I will keep the campus updated on that progress,” he added.SFA will retain its name, brand and culture.

For more information, visit sfasu.edu/regents and sfasu.edu/system.

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/cs5410jszgwdlzd/AAAvH_RXjs4gISKWi8nHKkHka?dl=0

November 18, 2022 — The charter for the Stephen F. Austin State University Charter School was recently renewed for another 10 years by the Texas Education Agency. The renewal term — the result of a painstaking process by the school’s staff members and meticulous review by the SFA Charter School board and Office of the General Counsel — begins July 31 and runs through July 31, 2033.

This is the school’s second charter renewal.

“We have such a deep passion for SFA, our charter school, and the thousands of children we have been honored to educate and love over the past 15 years,” said Lysa Hagan, CEO and principal of the school. “We are delighted that it can continue to support families and that we can maintain our teacher candidate training site for another 10 years.”

The SFA Charter School was approved in January 2008 and opened in August of that same year. Located in the Janice A. Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center, the school is focused on improving public education and enhancing the preparation of future educators and school psychologists.

The school serves as a learning center for the James I. Perkins College of Education, providing hands-on and observational experiences for education students in various areas of study, including educational studies, kinesiology, music and school psychology. The school serves around 250 students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“The SFA Charter School is an important aspect of the commitment to public education made by this university,” said Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of the Perkins College of Education. “Contributing to the educator preparation program and to educating children across the Nacogdoches community, the charter school models the excellence that can occur when teachers and administrators hold a common educational philosophy and a coordinated instructional approach through all the grade levels of this school. The renewal provides for another 10 years of investment in the future of teacher preparation and of Texas public schools.”

To learn more about the SFA Charter School, visit sfasu.edu/charterschool.