After experiencing a phenomenal first fall semester as SFA president, I wondered if the spring semester would be able to compare. Highlights included the Lumberjack basketball team’s record-breaking win over Duke University, our football team bringing Chief Caddo home from Natchitoches and our Ladyjack volleyball team’s second-consecutive Southland Conference championship. And as icing on the cake, we awarded 950 diplomas during December commencement ceremonies and honored generous donors at the 31st annual Gala. How could spring 2020 possibly measure up?
Amazingly, this spring semester is well on its way to living up to every expectation established last fall!
We welcomed Naomi Shihab Nye, the Young People’s Poet Laureate of the United States, to campus in January. Ms. Nye, a Palestinian American who now lives in San Antonio, is the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle. She conducted professional development training for faculty members and led a writing workshop for participants in our Barrio Writers program.
We look forward to hosting Miss America, Camille Schrier, as the speaker for the Women in STEM luncheon April 7. With degrees in biochemistry and systems biology, Ms. Schrier is pursuing a doctoral degree in pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. We also will welcome Kendra Scott — fashion designer, CEO and philanthropist — as our Archie McDonald Speaker Series guest April 20. We hope you will join us for one or both of these events, if your schedule allows.
The Board of Regents recognized SFA supporters in January by naming campus facilities in their honor. At Johnson Coliseum, the new Loddie Naymola Basketball Performance Center honors a former Lumberjack basketball player and 1978 finance alumnus. The 42,000-square-foot addition will house offices, locker rooms, weight and training rooms, and practice courts for our basketball teams.
Inside the center, the Bob Sitton Office for the Men’s Head Basketball Coach honors the 1960 alumnus who served as director of the SFA Alumni Association from 1972 through 1998. This well-deserved honor for Mr. Sitton was made possible by Ron Kesterson ’76. The center’s weight room will be known as the Hank and Suzy Crouse Weight Room. The Crouses are Nacogdoches residents, basketball fans and avid SFA supporters.
The physics resource room in the Cole STEM Building has been named in honor of Dr. Harry Downing, a popular physics professor who joined the faculty in 1975 and has been honored with a variety of teaching excellence awards during his tenure. SFA is blessed to have Dr. Downing on the faculty.
I look forward to April when, for the first time in SFA ROTC history, our Ranger Challenge Team will compete in the prestigious Sandhurst Military Skills competition hosted by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. SFA ROTC is one of 16 teams — and the only team from Texas — competing against institutions such as Pennsylvania State University, Brigham Young University, and teams from Canada, Australia and Colombia. I am excited to see the results of their efforts.
With their successes, this tough Ranger team is helping spread the word far and wide about the SFA experience, and SFA is routinely noticed by organizations that rank higher education entities. For example, Intelligent.com recently ranked our online master’s degree in music education as “Best in the South” and the human development and family studies program in the top 10 best online master’s programs in the U.S. Additionally, SFA was awarded membership in Colleges of Distinction as a result of high-impact practices and student-centered programs. We hope you will join us in spreading the good news of SFA.
Axe ’em, Jacks!
President, Stephen F. Austin State University