Stephen F. Austin State University Regents approved plans for the university’s future during the board’s quarterly meeting this week. Those plans include expansion to campuses at Houston Community College’s central campus and Collin College’s Collin Higher Education Center in McKinney, as well as additional programs to be added to SFA offerings at Lone Star College.
“Our Strategic Plan, SFA Envisioned, states that we will expand our reach,” said Dr. Steve Bullard, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “In keeping with that vision, the James I. Perkins College of Education will offer a Bachelor of Science degree in interior design at Houston Community College, and the Rusche College of Business will offer a program through Collin College.”
The university will seek approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer those programs, as well as the Bachelor of Business Administration in sports management at Lone Star College’s University Center – Montgomery campus, Bullard said.
The board approved an institutional operating budget totaling $254.7 million for 2017-18. The budget reflects a reduction in operating general revenue resulting from a $2.7 million decrease in funding provided by the Texas Legislature.
“The $2.7 million general revenue reduction included cuts for funding special items that support educational centers on our campus,” said Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration. “Funding was reduced for the Stone Fort Museum and the Center for East Texas Studies; the College of Forestry and Agriculture’s Center for Applied Studies, Soil Testing and Water Analysis Lab, and Applied Poultry Studies; and the Rural Nursing Initiative in the College of Sciences and Mathematics.”
In creating the new budget, Gallant said reductions were spread out to departments across campus, both academic and support services, and that 26 employee positions were eliminated.
“We worked together to share in budget reductions as a team to bring back a budget that is a strategic investment,” he said. “Significant reallocations were made to fund the university’s initiatives to meet our future goals.”
The Board of Regents authorized the university to solicit bid proposals for a campaign consultant to provide professional counsel and guidance in launching and managing a comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Dini Spheris conducted a campaign feasibility study, which Regents approved in November 2016, and the findings support the launch of a comprehensive campaign to meet the university’s future financial needs. Michelle Buchanan, certified fundraising executive at Dini Spheris, presented findings from the research and said as the university approaches a major milestone with its 100-year anniversary, it is “in a good place, has good resources, and it’s a good time to start a campaign.”
Regents also approved a $9.2 million capital plan for 2017-18. The plan includes academic, student life, building, and life safety initiatives, addressing capital renewal, planned maintenance and renovation projects.
In addition to new furniture, roof replacement and a new $1.4 million heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for Hall 20.
Renovations to the Baker Pattillo Student Center will continue, as regents approved the second phase of the project. In this phase of the renovation, updated video projection equipment will be installed in the Grand Ballroom, along with upgraded sound systems and new furniture. The cost will not exceed $2.4 million. The budget for Phase I of the project was increased to $1.4 million to allow for changes to the plans identified by architects that will create more efficient banquet and meeting room spaces.
Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong developed construction drawings for renovation of the third and fourth floors of the Rusche College of Business, located in the McGee Business Building. A request for construction bids and project budget approval will be presented to the board at a later date. The first and second floors of the McGee Business Building were renovated in 2015.
The purchase of property at 1401 N. Mound St., which is adjacent to property owned by the university, was approved by the board.
Regents approved a name change for a department within the College of Business that has recently developed new academic majors in human resource management and sports business. To reflect this emphasis, the name of the unit is being changed from the Department of Management, Marketing and International Business to the Department of Management and Marketing.
A contract that will provide an assessment of the university’s Information Technology Services, including staffing, architecture and security, was approved by the Board of Regents. Gartner, a research and advisory company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, will conduct the assessment at a cost of $120,000.
Regents approved the annual audit plan and heard a report from Chief Audit Executive Gina Oglesbee that included information regarding a variety of audits, including audits of the accounting, mass communication and theatre departments. Oglesbee also presented updates on a financial aid audit, as well as information regarding the state auditor’s office audit and the Joint Admission Medical Program grant selection.
The board received reports on enrollment planning, current construction, and the university’s marketing campaign and website. Dr. Brian Murphy, dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, and Dr. Buddy Himes, dean of the College of Fine Arts, also delivered reports during the meeting.
Regents heard reports from SFA President Baker Pattillo, Faculty Senate Chair Le’Ann Solmonson and Student Government Association President Jessie Jenkins.
In addition to core curriculum revisions, regents approved:
– ratification of grant awards received as a result of faculty member research and service engagement, including federal, state and private awards, totaling $812,848;
– the athletic policies and procedures manual, and policy revisions for academic affairs, financial and student affairs, and building and grounds, best-value procurement, ethics, fixed-rate tuition plans and year-end purchasing;
– selection of firms for inclusion on the university’s pre-approved lists of outside legal counsel to be utilized when needed in the fields of wills, trusts and estates; employment; financial law; health law; higher education; intellectual property; immigration; public finance and bond issuance; real estate; sports law; tax law; oil and gas, mineral interests, and/or utilities; and Federal Communications Commission-related matters;
– an amendment to a prior authorization of services provided by Acquia for website hosting and Technical Account Manager team support;
– granting of an easement to Deep East Texas Electric Co-op to serve a water well at the SFA Beef Farm; and
– ratification of the fixed-pricing contract with the Texas General Land Office to supply natural gas for SFA and locking-in additional natural gas fixed-pricing contracts when market conditions are favorable.