The University of Texas (UT) regents have given approval for Chancellor James Milliken to work with Stephen F. Austin University (SFA) leadership to proceed on the affiliation process recently approved by the SFA regents, KTRE reported. In a virtual meeting, the board voted unanimously on Milliken taking the next steps.
The Texas Legislature must still approve the affiliation.
In a statement from Board Chair Kevin Eltife, he said faculty pay would be one of the early concerns addressed. “A huge priority for our alignment is faculty pay, which needs attention and will be dealt with early on in the process,” Eltife said.
Eltife shared excitement about taking the next steps while staying true to the culture of SFA.
“Stephen F. Austin has a rich tradition and successful history that our regents and leadership deeply admire and respect,” he said in the statement. “We are honored and enthusiastic about taking the next steps in the process with confidence that this union will make each of us stronger. We will help the university build upon its programs, traditions and culture that have made the university unique for nearly a century, all the while preserving the name, colors and traditions of this great university.”
Once the affiliation process has been completed, the UT System will begin providing scholarship funding to SFA, according to Eltife.
The approval to move forward was made a week after the SFA regents approved the UT system affiliation, as reported by The Dallas Express.
A November 29 press release from SFA stated that the approval was made following a comprehensive evaluation process. Feedback from staff, students, alumni, faculty and the general public was considered.
Karen Gantt, the SFA Board of Regents chair, shared that SFA considered four systems in its affiliation decision-making process: the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System, the Texas Tech University System, and the Texas State University System.
The affiliation will lead to new opportunities for SFA and its students, according to Gantt.
“We are excited about the enormous opportunities this affiliation will provide for our students, faculty and staff. We know that the future of SFA will be enhanced by becoming a member of the leading university system in the country,” Gantt said in the press release.
Eltife shared in the November 29 press release that he would be involved throughout the process, including in the search for SFA’s new president. “In addition, I will be working closely with system officials over the next few weeks as the search for the next SFA president begins, and I will keep the campus updated on that progress,” he said.
SFA will be the University of Texas System’s 14th institution.