SFA University

March 8, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Future college students will have the opportunity to experience a taste of campus life during a free, action-packed open house Saturday, April 2, at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

Prospective students will have the opportunity to visit with university faculty and staff members, tour the campus and residence halls, and preview academic programs during the SFA Showcase Saturday event.

"There is no better time than Showcase Saturday to visit the beautiful SFA campus and witness firsthand what it's like to be a Lumberjack," said Jessica Maynard, assistant director of SFA's Office of Admissions.

"Guests are encouraged to visit one-on-one with our faculty members to learn more about our quality, personalized academic programs, and our staff members will be available to answer questions about everything from admission requirements to financial aid to residence life,” Maynard added.

SFA is a comprehensive, residential university located in the heart of Texas Forest Country. Approximately 13,000 students attend SFA, which is within a few hours' drive of Texas' major metropolitan areas.

Showcase Saturday event registration will begin at 11:45 a.m. on the first floor of the Baker Pattillo Student Center and will remain open for one hour. Each person who registers will receive an information packet. The opening program begins at 12:45 p.m. and will provide an overview of the day's events.

Guests will then be able to visit with representatives of the academic departments until 4 p.m. at the Academic Fair in the Student Recreation Center. A Student Services Fair will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Baker Pattillo Student Center. 

Campus and residence hall tours will begin at 1:30 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Campus tours will take students on a guided walk of the SFA campus, while the self-guided residence hall tours will showcase several halls on both the north and south ends of campus. 

Admissions counselors will be available to discuss admission procedures and requirements from 1:30 to 5 p.m. in the Rusk Building, Room 206, and at several freshman and transfer admissions sessions held throughout the day.

Financial aid information sessions will be held at 2:30, 3:15 and 4 p.m. in the Baker Pattillo Student Center's Twilight Ballroom. Residence Life information sessions will be held at 2:30, 3:15 and 4 p.m. in the Baker Pattillo Student Center's movie theater on the second floor. Guests can receive information about Orientation Programs at 3:15 and 4 p.m. on the second floor of the student center in Regents’ Suite B.

Participating prospective students will receive a free SFA T-shirt after completing an evaluation form in the tent located in the courtyard area of the Rusk Building.

For more information about SFA's Showcase Saturday, contact the SFA Office of Admissions at (936) 468-2504 or email admissions@sfasu.edu.

March 7, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture will host a free student-led forestry outreach and education day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 9, to engage the community and provide insight into the diverse fields of natural resource study.
“So much of our region’s economic and cultural history is founded in the forests and natural resources of the region,” said Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for the college. “We want to enable the community to explore those elements while also sharing the ways in which the field of forestry is both evolving to meet the modern needs of the public and conserving our natural ecosystems.”
Activity stations will be set up on the Forestry Building lawn, located at 319 East College St., that will teach participants about local water quality monitoring, the use of drones in modern forestry, where and how to camp in East Texas, tree identification walks and wildlife identification techniques, among others. Children’s activity tables also will be set up.
Ray Cole, a member of the Nacogdoches Fire and Rescue’s Venom Response Team, also will be on site with native, non-venomous snakes to discuss their important role in the forest ecosystem. Additionally, SFA’s timbersports team, the Sylvans, will provide demonstrations throughout the day.
In 2015, the Sylvans won their third-consecutive Southern Forestry Conclave Championship and won the collegiate title at the Arkansas State Lumberjack Championship.
For more information, contact Fuller at fullersa@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-1185

Members of the Stephen F. Austin State University Repertory Dance Company practice in William M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus for an upcoming dance conference. Membership in the Repertory Dance Company is one of the many opportunities SFA’s dance program offers students.March 7, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — As soon as the music begins, it’s like a switch going off. The laughter and inside jokes that filled the studio moments ago are gone, and professionalism takes the stage. Waiting for their music cues, dancers find their marks and strike a pose. With each note, the dancers move across the floor telling a story through movement of beauty and acceptance. 
Stephen F. Austin State University’s dance program has experienced growth in recent years and for good reasons. SFA’s dance program offers various academic and performance opportunities for students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in dance.
The program is housed in SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education and offers students two concentration areas — teacher certification and performance/choreography. The teacher certification degree plan trains students to become dance teachers for grades 8-12.
“Having the dance education certificate and the connection with the College of Education is a tremendous benefit,” said Haley Jameson, dance program co-director. “We are one of few dance programs in the state that offers the dance teaching certificate.”
Students seeking a performance/choreography-based degree focus on becoming professional dancers or continuing their education in graduate school.
“We get dancers from all different genres, and we want them to be proficient in all three major western dance forms — ballet, modern and jazz. We are looking to train professionals,” Jameson said. “We want to take the level of technique up, and we are increasing the performance and choreography opportunities for students so they have a nice portfolio when they graduate. Also, if students are pursuing a teaching career, we want them to have teaching experience, not just theoretical knowledge.”
The dance program is continually advancing its curriculum to be more competitive. As new faculty members, both Jameson and Heather Samuelson, dance program co-director, bring their knowledge and diverse dance backgrounds to the program. Samuelson has extensive technique training and professional dance experience while Jameson adds her theatre and performance experience to the mix.
“We are a very close-knit group of dancers,” Samuelson said. “The dancers get a lot of one-on-one attention to really hone in on their technique and studies.”
Program graduates have found success in a variety of careers, including as a performer, dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, personal trainer, model, clothing designer, studio owner and more.
“Dance is very flexible. You can use it for a number of careers whether it’s science, theatre or business,” Jameson said.
Technique classes are held in the studio and begin with stretches and warm-ups before working on a specified technique.
“One of the things I really enjoy about SFA is the small class sizes that allow faculty members to get to know our dancers,” Jameson said. “When students are not in class, we ask about them and check on them. There is a personal touch.”
Throughout each semester, dance students participate in various performance opportunities, such as the Danceworks concert, a senior showcase.
For more than 30 years, the dance program has sponsored the SFA Repertory Dance Company, an audition-only dance company comprised of SFA students.
“The Repertory Dance Company has a long tradition of being a brother/sisterhood. They are like family, and they are so close knit,” Samuelson said. “Usually, these dancers are the first ones to give help in technique classes.”
Students can audition for the company regardless of their classification. Samuelson said there are many benefits to being a member. For example, members perform two to three times a year on and off campus. Members also have the opportunity to network with industry professionals.
For more information about SFA’s dance program or the SFA Repertory Dance Company, contact Jameson at jamesonhh@sfasu.edu or Samuelson at samuelsoh@sfasu.edu.

March 3, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Princesses from across East Texas are invited to don their best dress and sip tea with old and new friends during the SFA Garden’s annual Little Princess Tea Party slated for Saturday, April 9, in the Stephen F. Austin State University Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden.

“The tea party introduces people to nature and gardening in a new and enjoyable way. People who might not normally spend time outdoors love coming to the Little Princess Tea Party,” said Elyce Rodewald, tea party organizer and SFA Gardens educational programs coordinator. “Many people and organizations work together to bring this special day to the community, including SFA Gardens staff members and student workers, Nacogdoches Junior Forum volunteers, Alpha Psi Omega and others.

“This year, the Little Princess Tea Party is sponsored by Boyette Consulting. Dr. Cheryl Boyette created the original party over 10 years ago and has been involved in this magical event ever since.” 

One hundred tickets are available and will be split between two tea party sessions. The first session will be at 10 a.m. and the second at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person.

“The tickets sell out very quickly each year,” Rodewald said. “It seems that everyone enjoys dressing up, especially the young princesses. Some spend hours, days or even weeks planning what to wear.”

The tea party isn’t solely about playing dress up, although that is a definite perk for partygoers. The event allows young participants to practice budding social skills, increases time with family in a fun environment and offers the chance to soak in the beauty of the natural world.

“Princesses are intelligent, kind, brave, generous, loyal, magical, polite and strong,” Rodewald said. “Children who spend time playing and using their imagination are building important skills for adult life. The tea party also is a wonderful opportunity for children to spend special time with mom, grandmother or an aunt.”

Princess or fairy apparel is encouraged at the Little Princess Tea Party. Participants will be treated to tea party snacks, music, a garden visit and stories. Tickets can be purchased online at sfagardens.sfasu.edu.

For information, call (936) 468-1832 or email sfagardens@sfasu.edu

February 29, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The exhibition “Kent Rush: Photo-Syntax” will close Thursday, March 10, in Griffith Gallery on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University with a talk by the artist, followed by a reception.

Rush will give a gallery talk at the closing reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Griffith Gallery, which is located in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive.

Black and white photographs, drawings and prints are featured in the exhibition, which was curated by Neal Cox, faculty member in the SFA School of Art. Rush’s work has been exhibited extensively in the United States in solo, two- and three-person shows and group and competitive shows. Internationally, he has also shown in London, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and France.

His exhibition at SFA opened Jan. 20.

February 26, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Choral Union and Women’s Choir will present “In Praise of Women” when the ensembles perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, in Cole Concert Hall in the Wright Music Building on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.

The concert program is based on works by female composers and poets, and on female centered themes, according to Dr. Tod W. Fish, assistant professor and associate director of choral activities in the SFA School of Music.

“Female composers are grossly under-performed, in particular, those from earlier time periods,” Fish said. “This concert will display the works of female composers and poets from five different historical periods.”

The concert features a collaboration with SFA music faculty members Christina Guenther, flute; Staci Spring, bassoon; and Scott LaGraff, Chris Turner and Gennard Lombardozzi, voice. Graduate student violinists will also perform.

The Women’s Choir will perform “The Snow” by Edward Elgar. “It is a mainstay in the treble repertoire,” Fish said. “It features a virtuosic violin duet and the text by his wife, Alice, a poet and novelist. 

The Choral Union will perform Domine ad adiuvandum by the early Baroque composer Isabella Leonarda, who Fish describes as “a fairly unknown composer to modern audiences.”

“But she was quite popular during her lifetime,” he said. “This piece shows influence of (Claudio) Monteverdi and is accompanied by two C instruments and basso continuo.”

The Choral Union will also perform Lili Boulanger’s “Pour les Funérailles d’un Soldat,” a highly dramatic work that will feature LaGraff, Turner and Lombardozzi as soloists and in a vocal trio. 

Graduate conducting students Elaina Nordin of Angleton will conduct the Women’s Choir, and Andrew Trites of Overland Park, Kansas, and Robert Boren of Gun Barrel City will conduct the Choral Union men and women, respectively. The graduate conductors will each interpret three selections by contemporary female composers, Fish said.

The recital is a joint presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

February 25, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University is set to host the sixth biennial Lone Star Legislative Summit March 2-3, which will bring more than 20 state lawmakers to SFA’s campus to discuss pressing and relevant statewide issues.

“The Lone Star Legislative Summit is an amazing showcase for the university,” said Dr. Adam Peck, SFA dean of student affairs and member of the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee. “It exposes law and policy makers to our beautiful campus, our expert faculty members and the community in which we reside. Additionally, the event is frequently attended by students who benefit tremendously from the insights of the speakers, moderators and panelists.”

Fittingly, the summit also will coincide with the Nacogdoches Tricentennial Celebration.

“I see this year’s LSLS, which is part of the Nacogdoches Tricentennial Celebration, as a way to promote our city, our heritage and SFA, and show the rest of the state our city's vibrancy,” said Dr. Scott Sosebee, associate professor of history at SFA and a summit moderator. “Also, I like this summit's sessions. It is truly a 21st-century agenda, one that looks to the future of the state and how we can solve some of our problems, and highlight why Texas is — and should be — a leader for the rest of the nation as we move further into the 21st century.”

The two-day summit will begin with a kick-off reception at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, at Austin Hall, 4603 North St. The first of five sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 3, in the SFA Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom following a 7:15 a.m. breakfast. Ticket prices vary and can be purchased at the Chamber, 2516 North St.

Topics to be discussed include diversity and race in Texas, the Nacogdoches tricentennial, state health care and education, and Texas music. Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also will give a report on the Texas economy. Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA interim provost, will serve as moderator for the second session, titled “Educating 21st Century Texans: Remembering the Alamo and shooting for the stars.”

“The summit is a wonderful opportunity to show the world (and the rest of Texas) that East Texas not only respects and values the 300-year history of the settlement of Nacogdoches and the great natural beauty of its waterways and forests, but also is fully committed to the future of East Texas citizens through economic growth, health care, education, and conservation of our natural resources,” said Brad Maule, SFA theater lecturer and a summit moderator.

“We also like to have fun here, and that's where I hopefully can be of help. East Texas is filled with music — the sweet sound of guitars in the night air around a campfire, gospel groups in one of our many churches, the western swing and country twang of dance halls, all the way to the celebration of life in weddings and funerals — music is everywhere you turn in Nacogdoches. I hope to share a little bit of the long history of music here, the different kinds and the origins of our music.”

Summit topics are selected by the Legislative Affairs Committee in consultation with summit hosts, State Rep. Travis Clardy and State Sen. Robert Nichols, Peck said. Selected topics are based on what organizers believe will be particularly important in the coming legislative session and that have relevance for the city and region.

Sosebee said the primary goal of the session he will moderate, “Diversity and Race in Texas: Who were we, who are we, and who do we want to be?” is to discuss Texas’ increasingly diversifying population.

“We may not realize that we are the home of the most diverse city in the United States (Houston), and our state contains sizable populations of various ethnic groups as well as races,” he said. “Important to me as a historian is how we use the past to explain the present and future. What we must learn to do is have a historical narrative that contains a ‘usable past,’ or one that all Texans can relate to. For far too long we have relied on a narrative that concentrated on the 19th century, Texas as a frontier state and how the predominant Anglo population dominated the institutions.

“We are more than a 100 years removed from Texas as a place that was rural and emerging, with an immature economy. Yet, in many ways, the story we tell only relates to that reality. We are, in 2016, an urban state, one that is diverse, a leader in technology and an economic giant. I think that most Texans of 2016 do not relate to the old tales of ‘gun smoke and cows’ and would welcome a story that stresses how we became the state we are today.”

For information about the summit, visit www.travisfortexas.net/lsls2016.

February 25, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House will host an artist’s talk and musical performance starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6, in conjunction with the exhibition “East Texas Impressions: The Art of Charles D. Jones,” which is currently showing at the downtown gallery.

The comprehensive catalogue of this exhibition will be available for purchase, and Jones will be available to sign following the 2 p.m. artist talk.

As an “added value” event of the Nacogdoches Music Festival, slated for March 3 through 6 in downtown Nacogdoches, the afternoon’s festivities will also feature Jones and the musical group Camino Real, which includes Jon Hall, Craig Smith, Mark McClain and Robbie Roach, performing old-time string band music, Irish tunes and a variety of other songs. Joining them for some special songs will be Michele Smith, Tim Chauvin, Cele Knight, John Guedry and Paul Driver. Admission is free.

“East Texas Impressions: The Art of Charles D. Jones” features drawings, prints and paintings of the professor emeritus in the School of Art at Stephen F. Austin State University who now serves as director and master printer for the LaNana Creek Press in SFA’s College of Fine Arts. Woodcuts, intaglio and book arts are also featured in this retrospective of Jones’ work, which is curated by David Lewis, professor of art history at SFA.

The Jones exhibition and the Refined jewelry and metalwork exhibition, both of which are sponsored in part by the Nacogdoches Junior Forum and SFA Friends of the Visual Arts, have been extended to run through March 19.

The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information, call (936) 468-1131

February 24, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University students enrolled in the James I. Perkins College of Education recently presented research at the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference in Las Vegas.
Pictured from left, Stephen F. Austin State University seniors Haleigh Pickett, Dani Quade, Dr. Vicki Thomas, assistant professor of elementary education at SFA, and senior Lindsey Palat recently presented research at the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference in Las Vegas. Their research focused on the effects of play-based learning on English Language Learners.Dr. Vicki Thomas, assistant professor of elementary education at SFA, explained this two-day national conference serves as a forum for presentations and engagement of ideas in qualitative research.
“Part of our university’s vision is to provide students with transformative experiences such as opportunities for students to conduct research and showcase their work. This experience offered our students time for sharing ideas and presenting the results nationally with qualitative research experts in a variety of fields.”
SFA senior elementary education majors Dani Quade, Haleigh Pickett and Lindsey Palat conducted a study using qualitative and quantitative data titled, “Using Play-Based Learning with English Language Learners.”
“We utilized a constructivist approach to teaching and implemented lessons in a school with a high population of English Language Learners,” Pickett said. “Using play-based learning instruction, we taught students how to compose and decompose numbers using Legos.”
Pickett explained they used Legos as a hands-on activity for students to physically see that when one decomposes something, one takes it apart much like subtraction. Then, when one composes something, one is building on to it like addition. The activity provided students a more visual insight of addition and subtraction.
Mentoring professors Thomas and Dr. Tingting Xu, assistant professor in elementary education, guided the students through the research process. Forty students participated in the study to determine the effects play-based lessons had on learning versus traditional lesson delivery.
The researchers used pre- and post-tests to measure students’ ability to compose and decompose numbers for both the control and experimental groups. Pickett said the test results showed a significant increase in the post-test results for the students who were taught using the play-based method.
Furthermore, the exit interviews with the students who used play-based learning more frequently used the words “math” and “fun” than students who received the traditional lessons.
“We were amazed at how much more enthusiastic the responses were from the experimental group, and to hear them say, ‘Math is fun’ was exciting,” Pickett said.
Quade, Pickett and Palat gave a presentation at the conference describing their study and its results. Pickett said the experience was rewarding and it gave her a great feeling of accomplishment knowing their work was being recognized from people all over the country. Thomas also praised the students’ work.
“These students exceeded far beyond the requirements for our program. They each took responsibility for their roles in the research and were fantastic ambassadors for our university,” Thomas said. “But most of all, they were able to see the effects of play-based lessons on student learning, which is a topic very dear to their hearts.”
SFA’s Office of Student Engagement Programs and the dean’s office in the College of Education helped fund the trip.

February 24, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University will host its annual Garden Gala Day Spring Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St.
A wide variety of hard-to-find, “Texas tough” plants will be available, including Texas natives, heirlooms, tropicals, perennials, shrubs, trees and unusual species. Most of the plants are trailed in the gardens before being offered to the public and are produced by the SFA Gardens staff and volunteers.  
This popular event benefits the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, Gayla Mize Garden and educational programs hosted at the gardens. More than 15,000 students of all ages are reached on a yearly basis through SFA Gardens programs.
The ninth annual SFA Earth Day Celebration presented alongside the Garden Gala Day Spring Plant Sale will begin at 10 a.m. Informational booths will be set up near the Tucker House and the event will feature guest speakers, activities for kids of all ages, free local food, live music and more.
The outdoor festival is sponsored by Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Pursuits program, the SFA Student Sustainability Coalition, SFA Gardens and Nacogdoches Naturally. The celebration is an opportunity for members of the SFA student body and the Nacogdoches community to join together in furthering the vision of a sustainable campus and community.
Parking is available at the nearby Early Childhood Research Center, 2428 Raguet St. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon.
For more information, call (936) 468-4404, or visit www.sfagardens.sfasu.edu two weeks before the sale for a list of available plants.