SFA University

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Stephen F. Austin State University’s forestry program. Following the program’s 1966 accreditation from the Society of American Foresters, the national organization representing and setting the standard for the forestry profession, SFA became home to the first accredited forestry program in the state. Since its establishment, the forestry program has produced top leaders in both the public and private sectors of natural resource management. In this picture dated 1949, representatives of the new Department of Forestry stand before a student recruiting booth.

October 13, 2021 — In the spring semester of 1946, Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College welcomed an influx of returning World War II servicemen to the student body. Among the courses offered to these new and returning students was an entirely new academic program — one that is inexorably tied to the heritage, economy and natural history of the region.

By the mid 20th century, the U.S. had transitioned away from viewing forests and their resources as purely extractive, and the creation of SFA’s Bachelor of Science in Forestry program reflected the growing understanding of the need for responsible, renewable, science-based forest management.

In 1966, the program received accreditation from the Society of American Foresters, the national organization representing and setting the standard for the forestry profession, making SFA home to the first accredited forestry program in the state.

The new Department of Forestry was initially housed in the basement of the Austin Building, and although campus location, technology and course offerings have changed during the past 75 years, one aspect has remained consistent.

“I think one of our strengths is that we have held on to the hands-on, learning-based experience model,” said Dr. Hans Williams, dean of SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. “Our students go to the forest and field every day to work closely with faculty members and learn.”

The field-based curriculum is perhaps best exemplified by the program’s intensive six-week summer field camp for students entering their junior year. Each week of the course focuses on a different aspect of the forestry profession and challenges students to apply the knowledge they have gained throughout the program to real-world scenarios.

For most of the program’s history, the camp took place off campus — first at a leased property equipped with dormitories and a dining hall near Milam, and later at the SFA-owned Piney Woods Conservation Center on Lake Sam Rayburn. In 2015, the camp transitioned to a non-residential format with students returning to their respective homes each night. Although locations of the camp have changed, the physical and mental rigor remain.

“Before I started field station, my friends told me that it’s the most fun you will never want to have again,” said Charlie Jordan, 2015 forestry graduate. “They were 100% correct. I’ve never had more fun during a summer class, but I never want to go through that mental and physical exhaustion again.”

Although tucked away in rural Texas Forest Country, SFA’s forestry program, faculty members and students have gained national recognition for their contributions to the profession.

Currently, the program is home to four faculty member recipients of the Carl Alwin Schenck Award. This national award, presented by the Society of American Foresters, recognizes outstanding performance in the field of forestry education. Additionally, the student chapter of The Wildlife Society and the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters have been recognized as the nation’s top-performing student chapters. Furthermore, the SFA Sylvans, the university’s timbersports team, has won multiple Southern Forestry Conclave championships, excelling in both the academic and physical portions of the competition.

When contemplating the program’s greatest accomplishments, Williams immediately points to alumni.

“When you get down to it, the success of any program is based on the success of its graduates, and I think what you see with our graduates is that they have achieved leadership positions in the public and private sectors of forestry all over the country,” Williams said. “Because we’re such a large program and have graduated so many students over the years, we’ve gained a reputation through their success of being a fine forestry program that produces strong graduates.”

Among the program’s notable alumni are a Nobel Prize co-recipient and top scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as top leaders within the Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and private companies such as Weyerhaeuser and Davey Tree Expert Company.

“What amazes me is that as we try to select alumni for our Outstanding Alumni Award, we can’t seem to catch up,” Williams said. “We are so far behind in recognizing our outstanding alumni who have made great contributions to the profession.”

In addition to extensive teaching, research and outreach, the program manages 3,449 acres of East Texas forestland through the Lumberjack Legacy Forest Program. Through sustainable forest management, these properties have sequestered more than 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide and generated more than $239,000 for student scholarships and graduate research.

The Lumberjack Legacy Forest Program initially began in 2000 through a relationship with STMicroelectronics, a global electronics and semiconductor manufacturer focused on reducing its carbon footprint. The company purchased and afforested marginal East Texas pastureland and then donated the land to the SFA Real Estate Foundation to be managed in perpetuity by the college.

“This relationship was made possible through the vision and leadership of past deans and faculty members, as well as guidance from the SFA development office,” Williams said. “We have been able to meet STMicroelectronics’ goals, as well as our goals of supporting students and facilitating faculty development.”

While the forest industry and higher education have dramatically changed during the past 75 years and will no doubt continue to evolve, Williams speaks of the future of SFA’s forestry program with enthusiasm and purpose.

“We will continue to hold on to hands-on, experienced-based learning,” Williams said. “I think that is part of our culture, what we are known for and why employers seek out our graduates. We will continue to seek out ways to improve our academic quality and produce well-rounded professionals."

Story by Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

The public is invited to join Stephen F. Austin State University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics and Bruce McCandless III for an evening of space stories about his father, astronaut Bruce McCandless II, at 6 p.m. October 14, in the SFA planetarium.

October 12, 2021 — The public is invited to join Stephen F. Austin State University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics and Bruce McCandless III for an evening of space stories about his father, astronaut Bruce McCandless II, at 6 p.m. October 14, in the SFA planetarium.

The book, “Wonders All Around: The Incredible True story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space,” was written by McCandless III and details pivotal moments in his father’s career, which spanned the Apollo era and the Skylab and shuttle programs. An Amazon best seller, the book was recently listed by Men’s Journal as a Top 20 Book to Read in 2021.

“You’ve probably seen the photo — that all-but-ubiquitous snapshot of an astronaut with a jet-powered backpack gliding along in the vastness of the cosmos, untethered and unafraid,” McCandless III said. “Other than that fantastic image, though, you may know very little about the man in the jetpack: Captain Bruce McCandless II.”

Some of McCandless II’s accomplishments include serving as a capsule communicator for Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 moon walk, repairing the damaged Skylab orbital workshop, performing the first untethered flight in space, and designing and deploying the Hubble Space Telescope.

The presentation is free to the public.

Learn more about the SFA Planetarium at sfasu.edu/planetarium.

By Joanna Armstrong, marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University

October 6, 2021 – Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host its annual Fabulous Fall Festival Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9 and Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St., in historic Nacogdoches.

The sale will feature a remarkable array of hard-to-find, “Texas-tough” plants, including natives, edibles, heirlooms, perennials, shrubs and trees,with an emphasis on native, pollinator-friendly selections, as well as exclusive SFA introductions. The featured plants are extensively trialed before being offered to the public and are produced by staff members and volunteers of the SFA Gardens.

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

Parking will be available at SFA’s Janice A. Pattillo Early Childhood Research Center, 2428 Raguet St., and visitors are encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon for their plants. Credit cards and checks will be accepted; no cash.

For more information and a list of available plants, call (936) 468-4404 or visitsfagardens.sfasu.edu two weeks before the sale.

Stephen F. Austin State University’s timbersports team, the Sylvans, tied for first place in the collegiate portion of the 37th annual Arkansas State Lumberjack Competition held in Sheridan, Arkansas. Pictured, SFA students Mason Helm and Natalie Scammell compete in the Jack and Jill crosscut competition.

October 5, 2021 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s timbersports team, the Sylvans, tied for first place in the collegiate portion of the 37th annual Arkansas State Lumberjack Competition held in Sheridan, Arkansas.

“This was one of the tightest competitions we’ve had since our return from the COVID-19 hiatus,” said Dr. Jeremy Stovall, SFA professor of silviculture and Sylvans faculty advisor.

The Sylvans team, comprising 17 SFA students, competed in seven different physical events against the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Louisiana Tech University.

The Sylvans placed first in the women’s bowsaw and Jack and Jill crosscut; second in the single buck crosscut, axe throw and men’s bowsaw; and third in the double-buck crosscut and underhand chop.

Additionally, Tyler Jones, Sylvans team member and current holder of the Southern Forestry Conclave axe-throwing record, took fifth place in the professional division of the axe-throwing competition.

Ken Bragg, SFA alumnus, past Sylvans president and member of the Arkansas State House of Representatives, officiated the competition. The event also was organized by SFA alumnus Karl Hansen, among others.

October 3, 2021 — College-bound students and their families are invited to Stephen F. Austin State University’s Showcase Preview and Virtual Showcase, both of which will be held during October.

“Whether you attend one of our Showcase SFA events in person or virtually, we’ve designed them all to give attendees an up-close and personal look at everything our campus has to offer,” said Emily Jefferson, SFA director of undergraduate recruitment. “It’s the perfect event to have all your college questions answered while experiencing our campus in really unique ways.”

Showcase Preview

Showcase Preview will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon October 11 on the SFA campus. It will feature informational fairs and breakout sessions. Jack Walkers, who are current students who serve as tour guides, also will be present at the Showcase Preview to offer tours.

“Showcase was the event that truly opened my heart to SFA,” said Iris Rios, a senior marketing major and Jack Walker. “Attendees can meet so many other future Lumberjacks and get a genuine feel for the campus.”

As a weekday event, prospective students and their families also will have the opportunity to see the campus in action. Smaller than a Showcase Saturday but larger than a campus tour experience, Showcase Preview is the right fit for families looking to make a quick trip to the piney woods.

A welcome session will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by breakout sessions covering a wide range of topics, including first-year and transfer admission, financial aid, and more.

Attendees may then participate in campus and residence hall tours, academic and student services fairs, and other optional sessions, including a mock classroom experience.

“Showcase-goers should expect to gain knowledge, connections and a deeper love for SFA,” said Kallie Menard, a family and consumer sciences senior and Jack Walker. “Showcase is a great experience and opportunity to learn more about SFA, and also to hang out with our Jack Walkers and other current and prospective students!”

Virtual Showcase

Virtual Showcase will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon October 22. The virtual event provides participants a unique space to interact with academic departments and student resources, showcasing the ways in which SFA is meeting the needs of today’s student in a highly technological world.

“Our Showcase events are the best way to not only get plugged into the SFA community, but also to meet other first-year students who are headed to college at the same time as you,” said Kaci Foster, a senior business management major and Jack Walker. “Our Virtual Showcase offers a chance to meet our admissions team and receive guidance to make sure you’re set and ready for college.”

Held exclusively over Zoom, SFA’s Virtual Showcase will begin with a welcome session. Academic breakout sessions by college will then take place, followed by other breakouts covering a range of topics, including first-year and transfer admissions, as well as student services overviews.

“Our Showcase guests will get an exclusive look at all aspects of campus life and have a chance to speak with Lumberjacks from every corner of SFA,” said Thomas Martin, senior political science major and Jack Walker.

Unique to our Virtual Showcase is a student-led panel that will allow attendees to speak to and ask questions of our current students. Virtual Showcase will end with optional sessions, including personalized admission counseling and a virtual campus tour.

To register for a Showcase SFA event or for more information, visit sfasu.edu/showcase.

The Accountancy Pathway to CPA, an online and online-interactive curriculum, is designed for experienced, working professionals interested in obtaining the courses required to sit for the CPA exam.

September 28, 2021 — Business professionals who want to reap the benefits of licensure as a CPA have the opportunity through a new program offered by Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business.

The Accountancy Pathway to CPA, an online and online-interactive curriculum, is designed for experienced, working professionals interested in obtaining the courses required to sit for the CPA exam.

Offered through the Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy, the 30-hour program results in a Master of Professional Accountancy, a certificate in forensic accounting and analytics, and qualification to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam in the state of Texas, with no degree in accounting required to enroll.

“This degree program is designed for those who have been in the workforce long enough to truly know what direction they want their career to take,” said Dr. Nikki Shoemaker. “As a CPA, you become more valuable across all industries in both the public and private sectors, and you become a strong candidate for management positions.”

The coursework includes topics such as advanced accounting, auditing, accounting research, regulation, analysis, communications and ethics. In addition to the MPA, and eligibility to sit for the CPA, the accompanying certification in forensic accounting and analytics enables graduates to identify fraudulent activities and understand the laws associated with fraud.

Since the program is ideally meant for those who hold a bachelor’s degree and are already two or more years into their careers, the online delivery is crucial, allowing students to stay where they are while moving ahead.

“It’s not realistic for people with families and good jobs to drop what they’re doing to come to campus,” Shoemaker said. “Through the Accountancy Pathway to CPA, students can take a big step forward without taking two steps back.”

To enroll in the program, applicants need to apply to the SFA Graduate School at www.applytexas.org. Additionally, applicants are required to submit a professional resume that details their work history and associated job duties. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher and a minimum of two years of professional work experience will receive clear admission into the program.

For more information, contact Nikki Shoemaker at shoemakenl@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-3105. Learn more about the Rusche College of Business and the Schlief School of Accountancy.

September 13, 2021 – Dr. Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian and professor of history at Rice University, will present “Discovering America from the Road” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 14, at Stephen F. Austin State University in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Theater.

Brinkley, whom CNN declared, “a man who knows more about the presidency than any human alive,” is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities at Rice, an American historian, best-selling author and sought-after commentator on U.S. presidential history. He has authored books on several presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Nancy Reagan personally selected Brinkley to edit President Reagan’s 2011 presidential diaries.

Brinkley’s presentation will highlight his experiences with one of the most renowned study away programs in the country’s history — the American Odyssey tour. He will talk about the benefits of seeing America to help better understand its complicated past and its complex present. Brinkley will address how transformational these experiences were and the adventures he had along the way.

While teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Brinkley spearheaded the American Odyssey course. He took students on a natural-gas-powered bus on numerous cross-country treks where they visited historic sites and met cultural icons, including Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Jimmy Carter, Morris Dees, Ken Kesey, John Kenneth Galbraith and William S. Burroughs. The class was written about in The New York Times and dozens of other newspapers. The Associated Press wrote, “If you can’t tour the United States yourself, the next best thing is to go along with Douglas Brinkley aboard ‘The Majic Bus.’”

“Stephen F. Austin State University is one of my favorite campuses to visit,” Brinkley said. “I’m excited to tell students and faculty about my American Odyssey tours. I’m glad to know that the spirit of ‘The Majic Bus’ is still alive and well in the age of Covid.”

Dr. Sarah Straub, SFA assistant professor of education studies, was instrumental in bringing Brinkley to SFA. In what Straub considered a “shot in the dark” moment, she reached out to Brinkley after reading one of his books. The pair corresponded, and a friendship was formed.

“While (Brinkley) is impressive on so many levels, I connected with his adventurous spirit and love of learning through the transformational experiences he creates for his students,” Straub said. “Those who attend this talk will leave ready to start their own adventures.”

Brinkley’s presentation helps support Straub’s recruitment initiatives for her own study away program in spring 2022, which is funded in part by the President’s Innovation Award.

Brinkley’s visit to SFA marks the second time he’s served as a guest speaker on the campus. He headlined the Archie McDonald Speaker Series in spring 2017.

Six of Brinkley’s books have been selected as The New York Times’ “Notable Books of the Year,” and seven of his publications are The New York Times bestsellers.

Brinkley also has been involved in the environmental conservation and historic preservation community. He has held board or leadership advisory roles in support of the American Museum of Natural History, Yellowstone Park Foundation, National Audubon Society and the Rockefeller-Roosevelt Conservation Roundtable. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored him with its Annual Heritage Award.

A side passion of Brinkley’s is music, winning a Grammy Award in 2017 in the best jazz ensemble category as co-producer for “Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom,” and he was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Gonzo,” a collaboration with Johnny Depp.

Brinkley has been a frequent contributor to publications such as Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly. He also serves on the board of trustees at Brevard College and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

He completed his bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University and received his doctoral degree in U.S. diplomatic history from Georgetown University in 1989. He then spent a year each at the U.S, Naval Academy and Princeton University teaching history.

Before joining the Rice University faculty, Brinkley served as professor of history and director of the Roosevelt Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. From 1994 until 2005, he was the Stephen E. Ambrose Professor of History and director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Seating is limited to approximately 150. Face coverings are strongly encouraged but not mandatory.

For more information, contact Straub at straubsm@sfasu.edu.

September 10, 2021 - Almost 12,000 students enrolled for fall classes at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Fall enrollment totaled 11,946, a decrease of 674 students, or 5%. While total undergraduate enrollment decreased 6%, or 688 students, enrollment of new first-year undergraduate students increased 4%, and transfer-student enrollment increased 2%.

“The increase in new first-year and new transfer students is encouraging,” said Erma Brecht, executive director of enrollment management. “It is exciting to welcome and serve students on campus and students who are learning from a distance. SFA stands committed to providing learning options that best fit our students’ needs.”

Overall graduate enrollment increased by almost 1%, from 1,633 to 1,647 students. This is the second consecutive increase in graduate enrollment from 2019, when 1,475 students were enrolled.

For more information about SFA enrollment, visit http://sfasu.edu/admissions.

September 9, 2021 — In an ongoing effort to help ensure student success and expand courses to encompass the diverse field of agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University’s Department of Agriculture now offers a specialized track in agricultural communications.

Agricultural communications combines core agriculture and communications proficiencies to help prepare students to become effective communicators for the agriculture industry. In addition to core agricultural courses, such as animal science, soil science and farm management, students develop skills in writing, photojournalism, public relations and media content development that relate to modern agricultural industries.

“People are becoming more and more aware of agriculture and our diverse practices,” said Dr. Joey Bray, chair of SFA’s Department of Agriculture. “While that’s good, we also have to contend with misconceptions and a lack of agriculture-related information made available to the public.”

Bray said this degree track provides students with the skills needed to promote the field and properly convey science-based information to the public.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects a 9% growth rate in jobs in the fields of agriculture and food sciences during the next decade — a promising outlook for students interested in the discipline.

Bray said agricultural communications open a number of career pathways, including employment in agricultural extension, governmental agencies, private industry, marketing, consulting and public relations.

To learn more about SFA’s agriculture program, visit ag.sfasu.edu.

Story by Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. 

August 31, 2021 — Daymond John is an award-winning entrepreneur who founded FUBU, a streetwear fashion brand that to this day has garnered more than $6 billion in product sales worldwide. But as big as FUBU is now, it all started out with a detail as small as a stitch. His mother taught him how to sew, a skill that powered John's rise from an ambitious everyman in New York City to a global entrepreneur who sees opportunities at every turn.

John's accomplishments rest on a basic and unyielding belief in himself, a belief shared by others. His mother agreed to take out a $100,000 mortgage on her house and move her son's business into the basement where he started out with jerseys, T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats. Three longtime friends joined the venture as partners, and hip-hop icon LL Cool J, who knew John from the borough of Queens where they both grew up, agreed to wear a FUBU shirt during a promotional campaign.

John's clothing brand — and subsequently his marketing firm, The Shark Group — and his television career with "Shark Tank" have all launched into the stratosphere.

He will serve as the guest speaker in the third installment of the Rusche College of Business Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Kennedy Auditorium at Stephen F. Austin State University. A private reception will be held prior to the lecture at 6 p.m.

The lecture series was created in 2016 to honor A. Nelson Rusche, who endowed the college with a $5 million gift to provide scholarships to students majoring in business and to support other programs. Previous speakers include skateboarding champ Tony Hawk in 2019 and former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush in 2016. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

"The Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series was established to bring outstanding business leaders to campus for the benefit of our students," said Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the college of business. "Daymond John and his accomplishments serve as exceptional examples for our students, and I am excited to hear the message that he will have for all of us.

"Entrepreneurship is vital to the health of our economy, which makes it crucially important for everyone. As we work to grow our entrepreneurship initiatives in the Rusche College of Business, having someone of Daymond's caliber on campus is an incredible opportunity."

John is celebrating his 12th season as an original cast member on ABC's Emmy Award-winning business reality show "Shark Tank." John is also an author of five bestselling books, including New York Times bestsellers "The Power of Broke" and "Rise and Grind," and recently released the Audible Original, "Founding FUBU."

John has received more than 35 awards, including the Brand Week Marketer of the Year, Advertising Age Marketing 1000 Award for Outstanding Ad Campaign, and Ernst & Young's New York Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He was most recently named No. 2 on LinkedIn's Top 20 Voices.

The Nelson Rusche Distinguished Lecture Series is free and open to the public. To purchase tickets for the 6 p.m. private reception, contact SFA's Office of Development at 936.468.5406, or email Sarah Sargent, director of advancement services, at sargentsl@sfasu.edu. Tickets cost $150.

For more information about the lecture series, visit sfasu.edu/rusche.