Controversial Decision On The Horizon For SFA – Will They Become Part Of A University System?
A letter from the Interim President of Stephen F. Austin State University, Dr. Steve Westbook, was sent to SFA Alumni yesterday. The contents below have started a conversation about the possibility of becoming a part of a university system in Texas.
SFA along with Texas Southern University are the only two independent public colleges not affiliated with another college in Texas. In the state of Texas, there are seven different university systems.
They are the University Of Houston System, University Of North Texas System, Texas A&M University System, Texas State University System, Texas Tech University System, and the newly created Texas Women's University System that started in 2021.
Stephen F. Austin State University Has Evolved Many Times In The Past
From humble beginnings in 1923 as Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College (1923 - 1949) to Stephen F. Austin State College from (1949 - 1969) things are always evolving at SFA.
In 1969 it became Stephen F. Austin State University and there hasn't been any name change since then. Some alumni actually sought out SFASU because they were not a part of a university system.
Though some love the fact that they weren't affiliated with any other college systems, there are many challenges that come with being a stand-alone institution. Dr. Westbrook acknowledged in the letter that this is a sensitive undertaking and they are asking for alumni opinions.
Will Stephen F. Austin Change Their Name If They Become A Part Of A System?
The advantages of becoming part of a University System are many for SFA. There are plenty of examples of universities that became a part of a system that didn't change their names.
This is just the start of a longer conversation, and the SFA Board of Regents is tasked with determining if this is beneficial for the school. Whatever the outcome it will be in the best interests of the students.
Here is the transcript of that letter.
A message from SFA's Office of the President -
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN STATE UNIVERSITY Office of the President
Dear Lumberjacks, Greetings from 'mid Texas pines and peaceful shrines!
As many of you know, I returned to SFA last April to serve as interim president until a new president is selected. I love our university, and it was with pride that I kicked off the 2022 fall semester today at our annual Welcome Back Meeting with faculty and staff. It has always been energizing to see everyone back and ready to get started as we anticipate the first of several move-in days for our residential students tomorrow. Remember your move-in day? It was 45 years ago tomorrow that I first set foot on the SFA campus as a freshman, and the excitement of seeing new students take their first step as a Lumberjack never seems to get old.
Each year at the Welcome Back Meeting, the president recognizes new faculty members and provides information to our campus community about the coming year. This year, I shared something special with our campus family, and I want to share it with our alumni family, as well.
As you may be aware, SFA is not affiliated with any of the seven university systems in Texas. We are one of two universities that remain unaffiliated, the other being Texas Southern University. Several university systems have made informal inquiries over the years regarding our willingness to evaluate the potential benefit to our university of being a system member. These inquiries have continued, and our Board of Regents believes the time is right to engage formally with representatives of those systems that have expressed interest to determine if affiliation is beneficial to SFA.
Although the decision regarding affiliation ultimately rests with the Board of Regents, I have been asked to develop an organized and comprehensive process to gather input from our campus community and our alumni that will be provided to them prior to their decision.
I have met with the Alumni Association's executive committee and reviewed our process for gathering this input. You will receive information from them in the near future about how you can participate - and I hope you will.
I want you to know that I believe this work our Board of Regents is undertaking is the right thing to do at the right time. I applaud them for having the courage to engage in what can be both an exciting and sensitive undertaking. Many of us have, for some time, loved the fact we were not affiliated with a system - but we can't ignore the growing challenges of being a stand-alone institution. Our primary focus has to be on what is best for SFA and our students so that the next century will be even better than the first 100 years!
So, be on the lookout for future communication coming soon from the association about how you can be part of this process.
Thank you for being a Lumberjack!
Dr. Steve Westbrook, President
Steve Westbrook '81 & '89
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