SFA Regents approve sidewalk expansion, tour new beef barn facility
Nacogdoches will become a more pedestrian-friendly community thanks to actions taken by members of the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents during their quarterly meeting Tuesday.
SFA will provide $13,282 to the Texas Department of Transportation in support of a pedestrian improvement project along Starr Avenue from Clark Boulevard to Cardinal Street.
“In July of 2019, the board approved the submission of grant project applications to the Texas Department of Transportation for pedestrian improvements,” said Dr. Danny Gallant, SFA vice president for finance and administration. “TxDOT liked the project so much that they assumed the project and significantly reduced the financial commitment from the university.”
Bidding for the next phase of the sidewalk project will begin in August.
As part of the meeting, regents toured the university’s new Beef Center facility located at the Todd Agricultural Research Center.
Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president, said the new facility will greatly benefit SFA students and ensure that the university remains competitive among other agricultural programs in the state.
The 20,000-square-foot facility, equipped with an arena, classroom and office space, sits on the footprint of the previous facility destroyed by a fire in November 2018.
In January 2020, the SFA Board of Regents approved the construction of a replacement barn at a projected cost of $900,000.
“Additional donations from private industry, alumni and friends continue to assist in outfitting the new facility with state-of-the-art equipment that will not only benefit current students, but the surrounding community,” Gordon said.
Each year SFA’s Department of Agriculture hosts an array of workshops and clinics for area producers in addition to high school agriculture competitions and community outreach events, such as Breakfast on the Farm, according to Dr. Joey Bray, chair of SFA’s Department of Agriculture.
“This is an upgrade from the previous facility and will increase the department’s ability to provide instruction in areas such as food science and food safety,” Bray said.
Despite the setback of losing a key structure and adapting to coursework amid a global pandemic, student enrollment increased in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture — an achievement that Dr. Hans Williams, dean of the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, attributes to the dedication and hard work of faculty and staff members.
Construction of the facility is expected to be completed later this spring.
Regents also approved an adjustment in the cost for dual-credit courses offered to high school students. During the September 2020 meeting, regents exempted dual-credit students from paying web-based distance education fees for the fall 2020 and spring and summer 2021 semesters and indicated that dual-credit tuition and fees would be reevaluated at a later date.
“This action eliminated dual-credit distance education fees for that time period,” Gallant said. “After surveying the tuition and fee costs of community colleges and other senior institutions, the SFA administration recommended a fixed price for dual-credit students, regardless of the delivery modality.”
Regents approved a tuition and fee charge of $258 for a three-semester-credit-hour dual-credit course, beginning with the fall 2021 semester.
Regents also approved keeping room rates the same for the upcoming academic year, but added a new eight-week residence hall price to accommodate eight-week courses being offered by the university. The new eight-week terms are priced at 5% more than 50% of the traditional term price.
The university’s move from the Southland Conference to the Western Athletic Conference, effective July 1, was approved by regents. SFA is one of four Texas universities that will be joining the conference.
Regents acknowledged receipt of the audit services report and approved a resolution acknowledging review of the investment strategy and policy. They also approved:
- the final STEM Building project budget of $47.3 million
- adding projected investment earnings of $732,845 from the Basketball Performance Facility bonds proceeds to the project budget, for a total budget of $29.2 million
- grant awards totaling $284,832
- qualified financial institutions and investment brokers
- annual financial report
- and grant awards and policy revisions.
The regents heard reports from President Gordon; Chris Moore, the president of the Student Government Association; Dr. Andrew Lannen, chair of the Faculty Senate; and the Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Committee.