SFA University

October 19, 2020 Nacogdoches – The Stephen F. Austin State University Office of Multicultural Affairs and Lumberjack Cultural Association are virtually hosting the Tunnel of Oppression from 6 to 9pm November 2 and 3 on Zoom.

“The Tunnel of Oppression is an enlightening and eye-opening experience that gives individuals who attend an insight on current topics that are affecting the world that they may be unaware of,” said Breanna Moore, LCA president.

The annual interactive museum spotlights different forms of oppression through theatre and multimedia presentations. In the past, the event has shed light on issues such as human trafficking, genocide, racial profiling and suicide.

“I want attendees to learn about different events and social topics and acknowledge the different forms of oppression that do not affect them directly,” Moore said.

The event is free and open to the public. However, due to the seriousness of the topics, children younger than 13 should attend with a parent or guardian.

To register for the event, visit sfasu.edu/oma. For more information, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at (936) 468-1073 or oma@sfasu.edu.

October 12, 2020 - With schools moving education online across the world, Stephen F. Austin State University understands access to high-speed internet is more critical than ever and is inviting area K-12 students to use campus Wi-Fi and computer labs.

“The need for online learning due to COVID-19 has made high-speed internet a requirement for so many students,” said Tim Lewallen, assistant director for customer service in SFA’s Information Technology Services. “We recognize that many in the community do not have high-speed internet available where they live, so our intent is for this initiative to aid those students. We recognize the value of an education and want to assist local students in any way possible.”

For years, SFA has offered Wi-Fi access to the public through a campus sponsorship program. Previously, a faculty or staff member was required to sponsor an individual’s account. The sponsorship requirement has since been removed.

“While we currently have instructions for campus visitors to connect to the SFA-Guest network, we will be producing instructions that are specific to K-12 students and their guardians,” Lewallen said. “Guest wireless services are available all over campus, but it would be best for our visitors to limit themselves to the Baker Pattillo Student Center and Steen Library.”

Though not part of it, the offering is in line with an initiative by Nacogdoches Independent School District called Dragon Connect, where locations across the city are placing signs to signal that students may use the location’s Wi-Fi. However, Lewallen specified that any Nacogdoches County student may connect to SFA’s Wi-Fi.

“All students are welcome to come to our campus and use it, regardless of where they are enrolled,” he added.

Unlike some of the other local Wi-Fi locations, SFA is in a particularly unique position to offer internet access in a setting already geared toward education. Rather than sitting in cars or on park benches, students have access to “special academic spaces with furniture and technology specifically geared toward optimal study environments,” Lewallen said.

In addition to Wi-Fi access, a select number of campus computers in the Library Information Network Center, or LINC lab, are available to students in need.

“We also have public-use computers in our Steen Library LINC lab that are available to local area K-12 students,” Lewallen said. “Guests to campus who have issues or questions should visit the LINC computer lab’s help desk on the first floor of Steen Library.”

Visitors to campus must follow COVID-19 guidelines, which include wearing a mask in all indoor spaces as well as maintaining a safe social distance from others. An adult must accompany any child under the age of 13 while in the library.

For more information on connecting to SFA’s Wi-Fi, visit help.sfasu.edu.

October 9, 2020 - A new tuition funding opportunity as well as modernized application requirements are just two of several reasons officials believe Stephen F. Austin State University graduate enrollment increased by more than 10% this fall, despite bleak educational forecasts based on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A third major contributing factor was the transition of hundreds of courses to distance formats as the university sought to evolve its fall semester to meet physical-distancing challenges.

“Collaboration between the Office of Research and Graduate Studies staff members and program coordinators in all six colleges has led to truly innovative initiatives aimed at program enhancement and meeting students’ unique circumstances,” said Dr. Pauline M. Sampson, dean of SFA’s research and graduate studies. “Our office has worked very hard on recruitment strategies, and we see that students understand the many benefits of graduate-level educational pursuits at any time, but especially during an economic downturn.”

Flexible learning
SFA’s College of Liberal and Applied Arts experienced the largest enrollment increase at 22.1%. The college’s Department of Mass Communication and School of Social Work comprised the two biggest portions of this growth.

“Since our Master of Art in mass communication is 100% online and was even prior to the pandemic, it meets students where they are,” said Dr. John Allen Hendricks, chair and professor in the Department of Mass Communication. “The online aspect is very attractive to working professionals who want to pursue an advanced degree at their own rhythm as well as work from the safety of their homes during the pandemic.”

School of Social Work officials echoed the contributions of flexible learning on enrollment.

“Virtual learning has offered students flexibility in juggling family and job responsibilities with career opportunities,” said Dr. Freddie Avant, School of Social Work director and associate dean in the College of Liberal and Applied Arts. “Also, the reputation of our faculty, staff and internship programs create unique experiences that prepare students for their career journey.”

The College of Fine Arts experienced the second largest graduate enrollment increase at 19.7%, with the School of Music comprising the largest portion of growth.

“We have several fully online graduate degrees that have become very attractive thanks to the dedication and hard work of faculty members who oversee them,” said Dr. Gary Wurtz, director of the School of Music. “Our online Master of Music in theory/composition, in particular, has gotten to the point where there are more applicants than we can accept. Our success is entirely attributable to the quality and dedication of our faculty.”

SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education comprises the largest graduate enrollment of the university’s six colleges at 874 students for fall 2020, which is an increase from 808 in fall 2019.

Creation of LEAP
University administrators also attribute a portion of the increase to the creation of the Lumberjack Education Assistance Program, which SFA’s Board of Regents approved in April.

For SFA employees, their spouses and dependents, the LEAP program exempts mandatory tuition and fees except statutory tuition, which is $50 per semester credit hours for undergraduate classes or $80 for graduate-level courses. Employees who enroll in classes receive scholarship support to cover the statutory tuition costs, and there is no cap on the number of courses eligible participants may take with the LEAP benefit.

LEAP replaced SFA’s previous employee scholarship program, which offered a maximum of $3,000 per academic year.

“We have 259 graduate students taking advantage of the LEAP program this fall. Of those, 131 are teaching or research assistants and 65 are first-time enrollees in graduate programs at SFA,” Sampson said. “We also had 128 faculty and staff take advantage of LEAP for graduate courses.”

Modernizing application processes
In addition to LEAP funding and the perks of virtual learning, key changes to application requirements have modernized the application process, making it easier for students to apply to SFA’s graduate school while retaining the university’s high academic standard.

Significant changes include only requiring applicants to submit their bachelor’s degree transcript rather than transcripts from all previous institutions and removing the requirement for GRE submission in several programs.

“Many universities, including Ivy League institutions, have removed the GRE requirement because it tends to restrict access to graduate study,” Sampson explained. “There is a substantial cost not only to take the GRE, but also to access study resources, take the GRE multiple times if a higher score is desired, purchase tutor materials or hire tutors. For many prospective students, these are undue burdens.”

Research and graduate studies officials also opted to extend a graduate application’s active period to one calendar year. This reduces application costs for prospective students who may apply then experience a life change that sets their enrollment back by a semester.

“All of these changes allow us to recruit a more diverse graduate student body while reducing obstacles to potential students,” Sampson said. “We want our academic programs to be rigorous, but we want access to those programs to meet the unique circumstances each future Lumberjack faces.”

SFA’s graduate programs each have unique deadlines and application requirements. Information for each program can be found on the ORGS website at sfasu.edu/graduate by selecting “Areas of Study” under the Graduate Admissions tab. 

By Christine Broussard, marketing communications coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University

October 9, 2020 - The Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders at Stephen F. Austin State University has received a 2020 Speak Out and Loud Crowd grant from the Parkinson Voice Project, the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the world dedicated to helping individuals with Parkinson’s disease improve their speech and swallowing.

The SFA clinic is one of only 248 hospitals, university speech therapy clinics, private practices and nonprofit organizations worldwide to receive this funding. The grant provides free Speak Out training for the clinical instructors and graduate students in SFA’s speech-language pathology program. It also funds materials that are used in the Speak Out and Loud Crowd programs.

“Up to 90% of people with Parkinson’s are at high risk of losing their ability to speak, and aspiration pneumonia caused by swallowing issues accounts for 70% of the mortality rate in this patient population,” said Parkinson Voice Project Founder and CEO Samantha Elandary. “Awarding these grants substantially increases access to quality speech treatment to those living with Parkinson’s.”

East Texas has a large population of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to Deena Petersen, clinic director.

“We are fortunate to be trained in the Speak Out program to help these clients communicate better,” she said.

The clinic offers free therapy sessions to East Texans with Parkinson’s disease to help them learn how to speak with intent, Petersen said.

“People with Parkinson’s disease do not realize they are speaking softly and people cannot hear them. In the Speak Out program, clients become more aware of their speech and learn that when they speak, it must be with intention.”

In addition to individual Speak Out sessions, the Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders offers the Loud Crowd program, which is a maintenance program for patients with Parkinson’s disease offering ongoing vocal practice, accountability, support and encouragement. When clients complete the Speak Out program, they transition to Loud Crowd.

The Parkinson Voice Project’s grant program honors Dr. Daniel R. Boone, a world-renowned speech-language pathologist and voice expert who recognized in the late 1950s that individuals with Parkinson’s disease could improve their communication if they spoke with intent.

For more information on the clinic’s services, call (936) 468-7109.

Second eight-week semester begins Oct. 15

October 7, 2020 - After transitioning a considerable portion of courses to distance formats as a result of the pandemic, Stephen F. Austin State University has multiplied its fall course section options significantly, announcing that it will be offering 201 course sections during its second eight-week fall semester.

This increase means students interested in enrolling in the second half of fall have dozens of courses from which to build an ideal schedule.

The second eight-week fall semester begins Oct. 15; however, students may register online through Oct. 19.

Students also may continue to register Oct. 20 through 22 by filling out a special permit form. A link to the form is located in mySFA by clicking “Registration Request Form” in the “Register” box under the “Registration” tab. Directions for submitting the form are included in the link.

“We have had an amazing response to our new eight-week semester options and are thrilled we are able to offer so many more courses during the fall’s second half,” said Dr. Steve Bullard, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The eight-week option, coupled with added course sections, means Lumberjacks have more flexibility to build a schedule that works for them — and potentially finish college in less time!”

For more information on fall registration, visit sfasu.edu/registrar/687.asp. If you’re not currently a student, apply to SFA today at ApplyTexas.org.

October 6, 2020 - The Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders at Stephen F. Austin State University is now providing in-person as well as teletherapy appointments for clients of all ages.

Services include evaluation and treatment of individuals who have difficulty communicating due to articulation, voice, fluency, language or cognitive impairments (for example, post-stroke issues or traumatic brain injury) or who have issues with swallowing.

Speech and language evaluations are $75, and speech therapy sessions are $15 per session. The clinic also offers student and employee rates as well as sliding-scale rates based on annual income.

In addition, the clinic provides speech therapy to those with Parkinson’s disease at no charge via face-to-face and teletherapy sessions.

As the pandemic continues, clinic staff members are following COVID-19 guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Deena Petersen, clinic director.

“We’re wearing face shields, using plexiglass barriers, sanitizing frequently and screening all clients before they enter the clinic,” she said.

Students in SFA’s graduate speech-language pathology program conduct all evaluation and treatment sessions while being supervised by a licensed speech-language pathologist, according to Petersen.

For more information, call (936) 468-7109.

September 29, 2020 - While many people consider math a subject that transcends languages, math students still need to solve word problems and justify their answers. Thus, their teachers need to develop language as well as teach math concepts.

To help teachers do just that, Dr. Jim Ewing, associate professor in the Department of Education Studies at Stephen F. Austin State University, has self-published two new books on English-language learners. Both build on his highly regarded primer, “Math for ELLs: As Easy as Uno, Dos, Tres.”

Ewing released the primer in February to help teachers who work with the three quarters of ELLs who speak Spanish at home. The book describes developing a positive math mindset in ELLs, providing access to content and engaging them in productive struggle, among other topics.

Choice magazine called the book “invaluable to both pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as those studying bilingual education and English for speakers of other languages.”

Building on “Math for ELLs,” Ewing recently released two more books that apply the theories from his first to help teachers working with ELLs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Math for Hispanic ELs: A Teacher's Guide for the Classroom and Distance Learning (K-2)” features lesson plans and word problems for students in kindergarten through second grade, while “Math for Hispanic ELs: A Teacher's Guide for the Classroom and Distance Learning (3 to 5)” focuses on students in third through fifth grade.

“I guide the teachers in meeting the math needs of emergent bilingual students in the classroom, online and without Wi-Fi,” Ewing said. “I specifically focus on Latinx students.”

All three books are available on amazon.com.

For more information, email Ewing at ewingjs@sfasu.edu.

Dr. Jim Ewing, associate professor in the Department of Education Studies at Stephen F. Austin State University, has published two new books that “guide teachers in meeting the math needs of emergent bilingual students in the classroom, online and without Wi-Fi.”

By Jo Gilmore, marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University.

September 29, 2020 - The Stephen F. Austin State University rodeo team has gained a competitive advantage in the arena thanks to a spur board and mechanical bucking machine donated by a group of 31 SFA Rodeo Club alumni and past coaches.

“We’re just grateful and blessed that we now have the support we’ve longed for in regard to making sure our program continues to excel,” said Rachel Clark, SFA coordinator of student publications and Rodeo Club advisor and team coach.

Clark explained that the spur board is an A-frame structure that allows competitors who ride bareback, saddle bronc or bulls, known as roughstock riders, to practice their form and spurring technique without the use of livestock. The mechanical bucking machine provides the same experience while also mimicking the movement of a bucking bull or horse.

The donors, comprising alumni from across Texas, independently launched the donation campaign and raised $4,000 to purchase the equipment without the knowledge of Clark or Rodeo Club members.

“These pieces of equipment are just more pieces of the puzzle that help us recruit top-notch students to come to SFA for the academics and the rodeo program,” Clark said.

The equipment is housed at the Equine Center located at SFA’s Todd Agricultural Research Center.

“We are getting interest from roughstock riders to come, so the fact that we have these pieces of equipment makes it a lot easier for them to actually commit to SFA because they have the means and the equipment to practice on and be prepared,” Clark said.

To learn more about the SFA rodeo team, contact Rachel Clark at clarkr1@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-468-3770.

The Stephen F. Austin State University rodeo team received a donation of a spur board and mechanical bucking machine from a group of 31 SFA Rodeo Club alumni and past coaches. The equipment, housed at the Todd Agricultural Research Center, will allow students who ride bareback, saddle bronc or bulls, known as roughstock riders, to practice their form and spurring technique without the use of livestock. Pictured from left are Suzanne George, Cotton George, Burt Hairgrove, Wayne Robinson, Gil Masters, Jim Broom, David Gregory, Richard Girard, Rachel Clark and members of the SFA rodeo team.

Story by Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. Contact information: fullersa@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-1185.

September 24, 2020 - A select group of theatre students at Stephen F. Austin State University have embraced performing virtually as the chosen delivery form for their art as they present the first play of the School of Theatre’s 2020-21 Mainstage Series, and they are learning some valuable lessons along the way.

Students will present a virtual-only performance of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” Sept. 24 through 26. Not knowing what COVID restrictions might still be in place in the fall, the play’s director, Dr. Inga Meier, assistant professor of theatre at SFA, planned for the show to be virtual from the beginning. Taking place in hell, “No Exit” can actually benefit from the virtual setting, she said. And the students who earned roles in the play couldn’t agree more.

“It is surprising to me how easy it is to become invested in the scene, even though you aren't in the room with your scene partners,” said Nacogdoches senior Alexis Beck.

Alexis Beck

“No Exit” finds three strangers encountering one another in a strange room and trying to make sense of their new surroundings and the lives that have led them to this place. While the play lends itself to virtual delivery, there are aspects of live theatre that cannot be replicated online.

“I think what has been the biggest adjustment to make for me personally is the lack of physical interaction with everyone involved,” said Colby Green, Carthage senior. “I’ve always been someone who enjoys the non-rehearsal related parts of rehearsal as much as the actual work that goes into the production, meaning the connections made with cast mates and conversations during breaks before and after rehearsal … the normal moments of interaction and connection that you don’t really realize are happening at the time. They’re still there but are much harder to replicate in a virtual setting.”

Colby Green

Fellow actor Triston Haq, Baytown junior, echoed Green’s comment.

“The most glaring difference for me is the connection between actors,” he said. “Usually, in an in-person production, the way that actors make up life onstage is through connection, such as really looking at your partners and acknowledging their presence. It's different in the virtual setting, because in order to look like you're looking at the other actors, you usually have to look away from them and send your intent in the opposite direction. It's definitely challenging and different. But I like to think of it as a sort of training. I mean there are professional actors in film who now have to stare at tennis balls with faces drawn on them and give million dollar performances because of CG (computer generated imagery).”

Trison Haq

One of the most surprising aspects of presenting this play in this format “is the heightened sense of confinement that the camera brings,” Haq said. But the camera serves a unique purpose in “No Exit.”

“For the most part, we're staying fully within this square of what the camera can see, and we can only act within that confined space,” he said. “I think that sense of confinement and the ‘eye’ of having the camera constantly looking at you helps facilitate the dread and the feeling of being in a kind of social hell.”

“At first I was extremely apprehensive about the whole ‘being on camera’ part of this production,” Green said, “but it is turning out to be much less of an issue than I thought. I was worried that my personal discomfort with having the immediate feedback that comes with seeing yourself as you’re working would present a huge hurdle that I had never really worked with before. But I think the issue of self-consciousness, and the need to work around it in order to adjust to this new normal that is the theatre world right now, has really allowed me to confront some things that have been holding me back as a performer. I believe that, in the long run, working on this particular show and this character, especially through the lens of my own issues with self-perception, is allowing me to work a lot more deeply than would have been possible otherwise.”

The students have yet to encounter the challenge of performing without a live audience. Green said she is one of “those actors” who loves live theatre. “But I’m definitely very excited and grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself as an artist and push the boundaries of my comfort zone a little bit,” she said.

Being flexible and able to adapt quickly are requirements in live theatre, and the limitations that COVID has placed on live performance have reinforced that.

“Theatre has always been and always will be a constantly evolving art form, and its ability to adapt is one of the most amazing things about it,” Green said. “The world of entertainment has had to make some drastic adjustments in the past several months. Even with so many innovations that we’ve already seen, we’re making new discoveries and finding new solutions at every rehearsal. It’s a very valuable opportunity to grow as an artist. This virtual process has taught me that we are more than capable of working through problems and of making discoveries that we wouldn’t have made otherwise had we not been presented with these circumstances.”

“I think exploring new ways to do theatre is always beneficial,” Beck said, “and because of all this chaos, we now know that yes, indeed, theatre can be anywhere!”“I'm just excited to tell stories and act again,” Haq said, “and I hope that everyone who watches us has as much fun as we've had rehearsing it all.”

The virtual performance is at 7:30 nightly for the three-night run. To purchase online access, which starts at $7.50 with additional donations accepted, visit boxoffice.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407 Monday through Friday for online purchasing questions. Livestream access sales end at 1 p.m. daily during the run, and links are emailed after 4:30 p.m. each day. For more information about the School of Theatre, visit theatre.sfasu.edu.

September 23, 2020 - In August 2020, Kasey R. Golden was nominated, then selected to serve as the 2020-2021 student representative to the Stephen F. Austin State University’s Graduate Council. The council is the primary advisory body for graduate education at the university and makes recommendations on all aspects of graduate education throughout the university. This council is composed of ten elected and appointed graduate faculty members and one graduate student as an active member representing the graduate student body. In addition to serving on the committee with graduate faculty and staff, Golden, as the student representative, is the chair of the Student Affairs Committee. The committee is tasked with increasing student involvement and soliciting and reviewing nominations for both the Outstanding Thesis and Outstanding Graduate Student Awards. In acceptance of this position Golden said, “What an honor! Thank you so much for this opportunity. I look forward to working with graduate faculty and staff to enhance graduate education across the university.”

In May of 2020, Golden’s hard work and determination earned her the Ima Hogg Scholarship. The Hogg Foundation awards the Ima Hogg Scholarships to graduate social work students who have committed to joining the mental health workforce after graduation. One student is selected from each social work master’s program across the state of Texas.  Each are chosen for their potential to bring renewed energy to the Texas mental health workforce. “After exploring other helping professions, I know I have found a home in social work. I appreciate this opportunity and look forward to all I will accomplish in mental health care in rural East Texas.” Golden stated. 

“The SFA School of Social Work's Graduate program prepares leaders for the social work profession,” says professor and director of the MSW Program, Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant. “Ms. Kasey Golden is an example of an excellent leader who is passionate about social work. She is dedicated to make a difference in the lives of people and communities. I know she will become a leader in the social work profession."

Golden was a 2009 graduate of Center High School, 2011 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, and a 2015 graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law. Golden currently serves as a graduate assistant at SFASU’s school of social work. She will continue her social work education this fall and plans to graduate in May 2021 with her Master’s in Social Work. Upon graduation, Golden hopes become a Licensed Master Social Worker and to provide mental health services to the East Texas area. She also intends to continue to advocate for fair immigration policy and better access to mental health service for the people of East Texas.