SFA University

February 16, 2016 NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Two graduates of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art filmmaking program will have their works showcased at the fifth annual Nacogdoches Film Festival, a celebration of the art and entertainment of film in all its forms.

Tickets are now on sale for the festival, which is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 25 through 27, in downtown Nacogdoches, on the SFA campus and other venues in town.

This year’s event includes a star-studded lineup of featured guests, including New York Times best-selling author and the brains behind the hit TV series, “True Blood,” Charlaine Harris.

Festival events also include project viewings and a short film competition, various panels including Q-and-A sessions with featured guests, a “Best True Blood Costume” contest and more, according to information at nacogdochesfilmfestival.org.

Brandon PolancoBrandon Polanco and Derek Wayne Johnson, both graduates of SFA, are among the filmmakers whose works will be shown. Polanco’s short film projects “Alchemy,” “Vicky & Jonny” and “Writer’s Block” will be shown beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, located at 329 E. Main St. A question-and-answer session with Polanco will follow at 8 p.m.

A Brooklyn-based filmmaker from Austin, Polanco earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre at SFA in 2009. He was among the Rose Bruford Exchange students in the School of Theatre, and while on the exchange he also studied at RESAD (Spain’s Royal Dramatic Academy) in Madrid. His short film “Writer’s Block” starring Bryan Cranston of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” fame won widespread acclaim in 2013-14 and was shown at the 2014 Nacogdoches Film Festival. Polanco’s film “Vicky & Jonny” was accepted last year into the world-renowned Cannes International Film Festival as part of the Short Film Corner. Polanco is co-owner of the production company 3 of A Kind Productions.

Derek Wayne JohnsonJohnson’s documentary about the Oscar-winning director of “Rocky” (1976) and “The Karate Kid” (1984) entitled “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs” (2016) will show from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Theater on the SFA campus. It will be followed by a Q&A session with Johnson.

The documentary examines the life, career and films of the legendary director and features exclusive never-before-seen interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Burt Reynolds, Jerry Weintraub, Talia Shire and many more, according to the festival website.

Johnson is an award-winning film director/writer/producer and owner of AJ16 Entertainment, a production company specializing in feature films and documentaries. After film school at SFA, he got his start by acting in Hollywood films and TV as well as directing independent features in Texas and Louisiana, eventually making his way to California.

Among the festival panelists are Herbert Midgley, an instructor of music technology in the SFA School of Music who is also an active filmmaker. Midgley has worked as a director, unit production manager, assistant director, cameraman, editor, sound designer, sound mixer, boom, grip, production assistant, screenwriter and composer. He has worked on nine feature films, more than 30 short films, and has made many art films. In 2014, Midgley premiered his sci-fi feature film, “The Rise Of The Robots,” in film festivals across the United States.

A portion of the festival proceeds will fund filmmaking projects within the SFA School of Art.

For a full list of featured guests, event specifics and ticket information, visit nacogdochesfilmfestival.org.

February 15, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen Lias, professor of composition at Stephen F. Austin State University, will present “Encounters: Music Inspired by Our National Parks” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

The recital showcases the musical compositions of Lias and will be performed by guest artists Scott LaGraff, baritone; Gary Wurtz, trumpet; Christina Guenther, flute; Jennifer Keeney, flute; Carly Hood, saxophone; Deb Scott, trombone; and Ron Petti, piano.

The recital is presented as part of the centennial celebration in 2016 of the National Park Service.

“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service,” Lias said. “As part of our national celebration, I recently released a CD of park-inspired chamber works titled ‘Encounters: Music Inspired by Our National Parks.’ Three of the pieces from that CD are included on this recital.”

“River Runner” was the first piece Lias composed about a national park. It recounts a paddle trip on the Rio Grande through Big Bend’s Santa Elena Canyon.

“Starting with the frenzy and excitement of setting out, it moves through the somber landscape and then concludes with the terror of ‘Rockslide Rapids,’” Lias said. “The audience can be assured that the performance is entirely authentic, since the trombonist was there for the adventure as well.”

“Range of Light” is the most recent of the pieces on the program, and employs a different approach, the composer said. Rather than going into the park and writing about his experiences, Lias used four of Ansel Adams’ iconic photos of Yosemite as his inspiration – composing one movement about each of them. Lias will display the images for the audience during the recital.

As an added treat, those in attendance will see the first public showing of a new “Art & Inspiration” short film produced by Denali National Park. This six-minute movie features Lias along with other artists – painters, writers and photographers – who have been inspired by Denali National Park. Special permission was obtained from the National Park Service to premiere the film at this recital.

Lias’ park-inspired pieces have been performed across the country, and upcoming performances are scheduled with the Shreveport, Anchorage, and Fairbanks symphonies, as well as an NEA-funded commission from the Boulder Philharmonic for a new orchestral work to be premiered in 2017 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

There will be a reception in the lobby following the concert. Audience members are encouraged to stay and greet the composer and performers. CDs will also be available for sale. A portion of all CD sales will go to the National Park Foundation.

The concert 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 11, 2016 - Lone Wittliff, Stephen F. Austin State University lecturer of marketing, demonstrated and discussed proper dining etiquette to help students prepare for job interviews, banquets, galas and other professional dinner settings in a recent Student Success Passport Program workshop in the Nelson Rusche College of Business.
More than 20 students attended the workshop where Wittliff explained the do’s and don’ts for several-course-meal dining. She also recommended students be on time, wear appropriate attire, network with other guests and more.
The Student Success Passport Program helps SFA students hone their professional skills while competing for scholarships. Program activities and workshops are designed to assist students in developing their personal and professional branding, experiential learning, leadership development, and engage in college activities and events.

February 10, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – No injuries were reported as a result of a minor fire that activated a single fire sprinkler in the small kitchen area of the Baker Pattillo Student Center first-floor food court Tuesday evening.

The building’s fire suppression system was activated, and the building was evacuated at approximately 9 p.m. The University Police Department and Nacogdoches Fire Department responded immediately, according to Dr. Steve Westbrook, vice president for university affairs.

“There was only minor damage from the fire, and the smoke was cleared by the smoke evacuation system,” Westbrook said.

When the sprinkler system in the building was reactivated, a broken pipe on the third floor caused flooding in the area of several student organization offices. This flooding then affected the second and first floors of that area of the building.

Because of these two events, retail food services on the first floor atrium of the building will be closed until the areas can be cleaned and inspected. This includes Urban Bricks Pizza, Sushic, the C-Store, Great American Cookies, Chick-fil-A and Marble Slab Creamery. Ongoing clean up and restoration of other portions of the building will continue for an undetermined amount of time.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

February 5, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Master of Business Administration program at Stephen F. Austin State University is ranked in the top 50 most affordable M.B.A. programs in the nation, according to Top Management Degrees, an online business education career guide.
“The M.B.A. program at SFA is very affordable, especially compared to many of our competitors around Texas and the U.S.,” said Dr. Mikhail Kouliavtsev, Master of Business Administration program director. “We aim to serve business professionals in the East Texas region, providing them with the tools, knowledge and credentials to either jumpstart or advance their careers.”
Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the Nelson Rusche College of Business, agrees the program is not only affordable, but also has great value for students.
"I am happy to see that our M.B.A. program has received this important recognition,” Bisping said. “The excellent curriculum, combined with top faculty members and affordable tuition, certainly makes our program an excellent value."
Top Management Degrees analyzed more than 500 schools accredited in the U.S. by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, according to PR Newswire.
Kouliavtsev explained this accreditation is the most prestigious international accreditation organization and it is a distinction shared by about 700 universities worldwide. In order to receive the accreditation, faculty members, curriculum and other academic aspects of the business programs must maintain a high standard.
Currently, there are approximately 40 students enrolled in SFA’s Master of Business Administration program in the Nelson Rusche College of Business. While many of the courses are offered online, the majority of the program is delivered in the traditional classroom format, Kouliavtsev said.
“We find our current students prefer the in-class interaction with classmates and faculty members to the strictly online format, but online delivery of our program is something we continue to explore for the future,” Kouliavtsev said.
Most of the M.B.A. classes are offered in the evening, allowing professionals to continue to work while pursuing their education. The degree is flexible, meaning students can choose the pace at which they want to complete their degree. Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree and meet admission standards are accepted into the program regardless of their undergraduate major.
Also, each student’s degree plan is customized to his or her background. Students are required to take 30 semester hours of core courses. Electives can be tailored to meet the student’s interests or career. Kouliavtsev said many students have opted for a study abroad experience to fulfill elective requirements. Students also can branch out and enroll in courses outside of the Rusche College of Business that will complement their skillset.
“Our M.B.A. program reflects the Rusche College of Business’ student-centered mission with the program’s flexible course offerings and customized degree plans,” Bisping said. “Our goal is to equip students to become leaders in their chosen careers, and this program is one of the tools we are utilizing to help our students be successful.”
For more information on SFA’s Master of Business Administration program, visit http://www.sfasu.edu/cob/mba.asp.

February 5, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS – The SFA Ladyjack and Lumberjack basketball teams are ready for Cram the Coliseum when they take on the A&M Corpus Christi Islanders on Feb. 13. Women's game begins at 4 p.m., and the  men's game will start at 6 p.m. in the William R. Johnson Coliseum at the intersection of E. College St. and University Dr.

All Nacogdoches County Chamber members received 10 tickets in the February mail packet, and a link to download and print more can be found in Hot News at www.nacogdoches.org 

"We'd like for Chamber members to share the tickets with everyone they know, because the entire community is invited to Cram the Coliseum," said Murphey Gayler, Chairman of the SFA-Chamber Connection Committee. "The Chamber is working with SFA Athletics to get another record-setting crowd to these games. Give these tickets to your co-workers, your customers, your family, friends, neighbors and any one else that will go and support the Jacks.”

Cram the Coliseum tickets are compliments of SFA Athletics Department. For all SFA athletic event schedules, please visit www.sfajacks.com. Go to www.nacogdoches.org for more information about this and other Nacogdoches County Chamber events or call 936-560-5533.

Free admission tickets available at Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce

February 4, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Students and faculty members in Stephen F. Austin State University’s hospitality administration program have partnered with the Texas Forest Trail Region (TFTR) organization for a semester-long project.

SFA students in instructor Brittany Fish’s destination management course are developing family-friendly itineraries with the Texas Forest Trail Region organization to help promote tourism in the area, while Drs. Chay Runnels, Lisa Mize and Jennifer Newquist, SFA professors of human sciences, are examining family travel itineraries in the research portion of the collaborative venture.

Last summer, Runnels and Newquist learned that family travel in the U.S. was on an upswing, which encouraged them to investigate travel and tourism agencies in East Texas.

“Research shows families use vacations to help improve communication and create opportunities for improved connectedness. Families who vacation regularly or engage in leisure activities also report having an increase in their satisfaction with family life,” Newquist said.

Therefore, many of the learning objectives in Fish’s destination management course are geared toward developing students’ abilities in understanding the role of convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce and other destination marketing organizations in promoting tourism to families.

“This project will allow students to relate course content to real-life objectives within the hospitality industry,” Fish said. “By evaluating a destination marketing organization’s current marketing strategies and outreach programs, students will be able to utilize their findings in designing multigenerational itineraries to hopefully increase tourism to chosen destinations.”

Additionally, students will create one-day trip itineraries with photos for use in a brochure and on social media. They also will develop marketing initiatives and promotional ideas to endorse these itineraries to capitalize on tourism.

“While the students are conducting in-depth research, they also are building relationships with current employers in the hospitality industry,” Fish said. “This allows students the opportunity to not only network for their futures, but to truly develop a realistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities the tourism industry faces.”

Recently, Runnels, Mize and Newquist conducted a focus group to begin their research portion of the project. The focus group involved partners from the Texas Forest Trail Region who represent destination marketing organizations from 35 East Texas counties.

“The focus group went great. We had good participation from group members,” Runnels said. “It is exciting to bridge the gap between academia and industry professionals.”

The next step in the research process is conducting follow-up interviews with focus group members to determine the marketing efforts being utilized to target multigenerational families, Runnels said.

Marty Prince, executive director for Texas Forest Trail Region, said she is excited to be partnering with SFA again and to be working with Fish.

“The two organizations have worked closely on projects that have had a positive economic impact on East Texas,” Prince said. “These projects have brought statewide praise and attention to SFA’s hospitality program, provided needed assistance to Forest Region communities and given SFA students hands-on learning opportunities directly related to their field of study.”

February 4, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Senior interior design students at Stephen F. Austin State University will showcase their talents during the "Essence of Design" exhibit on display Feb. 6 through March 4 on the second floor of the Ralph W. Steen Library. 

Thirteen senior interior design students at Stephen F. Austin State University will showcase their talents in the “Essence of Design” exhibit on display Feb. 6 through March 4 on the second floor of the Ralph W. Steen Library on the SFA campus. Each student built a display to showcase his or her interior design skills and portfolios.

The exhibit is open to the public and will kick off with an opening reception from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 6.

Each of the 13 students designed, fabricated and installed a freestanding structure on which to display his or her work. The structures are 8 feet wide, 8 feet long and 7 feet tall and reflect each student's design philosophy and personality, as well as provide a backdrop for each display.

The exhibit achieves multiple objectives in the interior design curriculum, including readying student portfolios for the job-search process; encouraging student self-assessment; allowing students to experience the complete design process, including conceptualization, design development, fabrication, installation and evaluation; communicating the scope of interior design education to the public; and providing a recruitment tool for the program.

To schedule a guided tour of the exhibit or for additional information, contact Sally Ann Swearingen, associate professor of interior design, at (936) 468-2048 or email sswearingen@sfasu.edu.


January 27, 2016 Trio Mélange features, from left, James Boldin, horn, Richard Seiler, piano, and Claire Vangelisti, soprano, all members of the University of Louisiana at Monroe music faculty.NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Trio Mélange, composed of music faculty members of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, will perform new music for soprano, horn and piano in a recital at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, in Cole Concert Hall on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus.

The concert is a joint presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music. The guest artist recital features Claire Vangelisti, soprano, Richard Seiler, piano, and James Boldin, horn, performing works of Carl Gottlieb Reissiger, Auguste Panseron, Eurico Carrapatoso and Gina Gillie.

Vangelisti’s voice has graced both national and international concert and operatic stages, performing repertoire from Bach to Berg. She has performed as concert soloist with organizations such as The San Antonio Symphony, The Temple Philharmonic Orchestra, The Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Texas Chamber Consort and the Monroe Symphony Orchestra. Her stage career includes appearances with Austin Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of San Antonio, Southwest Opera and The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin.

Boldin maintains a diverse career as an educator and performer. He has performed at the 44th, 45th and 47th International Horn Symposiums and at numerous regional horn workshops. An active orchestral musician, Boldin holds positions with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra and Monroe Symphony Orchestra.

Seiler has taught master classes and performed as a solo/collaborative pianist in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan and China, has soloed with orchestras in North Carolina, Illinois and Louisiana, and has recorded for Centaur Records (twice) and MSR Classics. Seiler performs and tours frequently, and has performed at numerous international and national conventions.

Admission to the concert is free. For more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

January 27, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University is home to the SFA Charter School, a multifaceted institution serving both the public and university.

The charter school is located on the first floor of the Janice A. Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center. This 120,000-square-foot facility brings under one roof the nationally accredited Early Childhood Laboratory, SFA Charter School and award-winning Department of Elementary Education.

“The Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center is unique in the state of Texas. This facility supports our theory to practice belief — learning to teach effectively occurs in settings of mutual respect, best practices and critical analysis,” said Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of the James I. Perkins College of Education. “Blending the work of a university with the practice of teaching early childhood and elementary children creates a rich environment for learning.”

The SFA Charter School is a free public school with the flexibility to adapt to the educational needs of individual students. Lysa Hagan, SFA Charter School principal, explained the school offers parents another educational choice for their children.

“Our curriculum is based on a constructivist learning environment, and it is different from a more traditional environment you see in other schools,” Hagan said. “We believe a child comes in to any learning opportunity with background knowledge, so our job is to find out what that child already knows related to the subject and then build on that in an individual way. It’s a very active and hands-on learning opportunity.”

It’s the school’s mission to create a learning environment through a constructivist approach utilizing learning centers and an inquiry-based method that supports the student’s development of self-responsibility, autonomy, openness, problem solving and integrity.

“We believe learning is a social activity,” Hagan said. “There is so much for the children to learn from one another, as well as from the teacher.”

Including the lighting, the charter school’s classrooms are different from traditional settings. Hagan explained the rooms do not use overhead lighting, but use indirect lighting and soft music to create a calm and homey atmosphere. Students also sit at tables always facing each other, so they can discuss what they are learning.

“We have really tried to set our classrooms up as a community or family,” Hagan said.

The school instructs children from kindergarten through fifth grade with two classes at each grade level. Students also can participate in physical education, music and art classes. The curriculum follows the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, which the Texas Education Agency mandates; however, much of the instruction is utilizing innovative research from educational professionals such as Cathy Fosnot, Lucy Calkins and Ellin Keene.

“Charter school teachers and leadership are committed to meeting state requirements while remaining committed to implementing instructional practices based on research focused on deep learning and child development,” Abbott said. “Additionally, the reciprocal professional development opportunities for SFA faculty members, educator preparation candidates, and charter teachers and students contribute to the unique learning opportunities found at the SFA Charter School.”

Currently, there are about 245 enrolled students. Each year, the school offers an application lottery. Pursuant to charter school law in Texas, the SFA Charter School offers an equal opportunity for any child to attend. Applicants are entered into a lottery where a third party, who is not connected to the school, selects the names. The application process for the 2016-17 school year is underway, and applications are available in the SFA Charter School Office. Applications must be returned by 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.

The SFA Charter School and Early Childhood Lab also serve more than 2,000 SFA students each fall and spring semester. Students from various academic departments at SFA, including kinesiology, psychology, music education, human services and human sciences, utilize the charter school and lab for research and instruction.

SFA’s Department of Elementary Education in the James I. Perkins College of Education collaborates with the charter school. In fact, Hagan said the school’s classes reflect methods the SFA Department of Elementary Education is teaching its university students. SFA students enrolled in the Field Experience II course spend three hours a day, four days a week observing and working with students at the charter school. SFA students teach various lessons and work one-on-one with the children.

“We serve as an environment to support university students and serve as a laboratory setting,” Hagan said. “We feel the SFA students know how they learned in school and have a traditional idea of how to teach. We bring them to the charter school, and the students see an alternative method for educating children.”

Also, there are one to four student teachers assigned to the charter school each semester.

According to Hagan, the SFA Charter School has a track record of success and is a state-of-the-art facility for students and educators.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the university’s support,” Hagan said. “We would not be the school or have the success we have without SFA.”