Fall 2015

Demi Payne


Pole vaulter on track for 2016 Olympics

Ladyjack standout pole vaulter Demi Payne is going places—likely the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She’s accomplished a lot during the past year, including qualifying for the 2015 Team USA World Championships in Beijing, China.

Vacation rental

Alumna serves as CFO for leading online vacation rental company

It’s OK that Lynn Atchison ’82 spends every day at work thinking about vacation. As chief financial officer of HomeAway, the world leader in vacation rentals with more than 1 million listings worldwide in almost 200 countries, Atchison’s accounting degree from SFA led her to her dream job.

Tree Farm

SFA alumni make their home on award-winning tree farm

At Richard ’70 and Pat Saunders’ sprawling East Texas farm, it’s a well-established fact that good things take time to grow, and Richard’s ancestors began growing their farm nearly 150 years ago.


A ghost named Chester: Fine Arts fact or fiction?

As Oct. 31 nears each fall, journalists search for stories to write that capture the spirit of Halloween. Legends of ghosts, goblins and other paranormal creatures find their way from the past to the present with each writer hoping to tell these stories in a new and exciting way.

Piano duo

Father-son piano duo creates magical moments on stage

It is rewarding for all teachers to see their students succeed. But when the student also is your son, the reward is magnified many times over. When Dr. Mario Ajero, associate professor of piano at SFA, presents one of his many faculty concerts on campus, his son, 11-year-old Antonio “Nio” Ajero, often joins him to perform a portion of the program.

Julia Gaona

Respiratory therapist commits career to helping save infants and children

It wasn’t a difficult decision for Julia Gaona ’08 to choose a career. She’s known the professional pathway she was going to follow since she was 8 years old. The difficult part was how she came to know.

Tom Mason

Marathon runner putting in miles for charity

Tom Mason’s hobby has taken him around the world, and it has taught him that the most meaningful run might not be the one that takes him farthest from home.

Business dean

Bisping named Dean of Nelson Rusche College of Business

Dr. Timothy Bisping has been named dean of SFA’s Nelson Rusche College of Business. Before his SFA appointment, Bisping served as interim dean of the College of Business at Louisiana Tech University. Prior, he was associate dean of graduate programs and research and associate professor of economics at LTU.

investment roundtable

Mast Student Investment Roundtable members win award

Students participating in SFA’s Mast Student Investment Roundtable proved they have what it takes to be top-notch financial portfolio managers. The group, comprising 15 SFA students who demonstrated exemplary performance in specific investment courses, won first place in the competition’s growth category at the ENGAGE International Investment Education Symposium held in the spring.

Faculty advising


Dr. Dave Creech: Why go native?

When visitors from near and far comment on the beauty of SFA Gardens, I tell them it’s not easy. In 1981, Henry Mitchell wrote in The Essential Earthman, “It is not nice to garden anywhere. Everywhere, there are violent winds, startling once-per-five-century floods, unprecedented droughts, record-setting freezes, abusive and blasting heats never known before.

Vista Viewpoint


Danielle Rogers - English major, pre-law minor and Ladyjack basketball forward

Even before I began my freshman year, SFA’s beautiful scenery, friendly environment and great atmosphere captured my heart. Many freshmen hear horror stories about what to expect in college: the infamous freshman 15, tales of awesome parties and everything in between. But in all honesty, college is what you make of it.

'Jacks of all Trades


Mike Karns ’14 — Founder and CEO, Firebird Restaurant Group

Mike Karns might have seemed like a typical student waiting tables in Nacogdoches to earn a few bucks before he graduated from SFA in 1985. In actuality, he was gaining important information for his future role as founder, owner and CEO of the Dallas-based Firebird Restaurant Group, which comprises four award-winning brands: El Fenix, Meso Maya, Taqueria La Ventana, and Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar.

Baker Pattillo

Letter from the President

There may never have been a more exciting time than now to be a Lumberjack. For starters, the past year was one of the most successful in the history of SFA athletics. Our student-athletes won a total of nine regular-season Southland Conference titles during 2014-15, earning the coveted SLC Commissioner’s Cup for the third time.

Karen Gregory Gantt

Letter from the Alumni Association

In the spring issue of Sawdust, I discussed the great things happening at SFA, and I encouraged you to connect with your university friends and return to campus soon for a visit. Well, your opportunity is just around the corner during Homecoming 2015.


Athletics News

Highlights from the SLC Commissioner's Cup, bowling and track and field.



Scholarships recently established at SFA

Class notes

Class Notes

News and notes from Lumberjack alumni


In Memoriam

Lumberjacks whom we recently lost