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2008-2009, our 85th Anniversary Year
SFA Story Graphic

"With Fortitude and Courage"

Welcome Messages
from Presidents Birdwell and Pattillo

A Welcome to the SFA Story

As he approached the year 1923, SFA's First President Alton Birdwell observed:

We should approach the new year, with all its uncertainties, with fortitude and courage. Optimism and buoyant hopes should reign universally.

Dr. Birdwell was facing problems that would have given pause to a lesser man. No campus buildings, few faculty members, insufficient housing for students in the town, and an appropriation which did not include a salary for himself. Even though SFA was, in his words "assuming material form," there were many trials ahead for the man and the new institution. Nevertheless, SFA was to the people of Nacogdoches and East Texas a partial fulfillment of "dreams long deferred." The President and faculty in 1923 were educational pioneers. Their achievements were great, even though they were modest about them. Through the mist Dr. Birdwell saw the essence of the place called SFA:

Birdwell in 1925

Named in honor of one of the builders of Texas, and situated on property formerly owned by another. In a community rich in history and tradition, surrounded by as beautiful a forest as can be found anywhere, this institution is destined to become the "Star of Hope" to thousands of young men and women. They will come from every hamlet in East Texas, and will carry back with them the wholesome, strengthening, constructive influence of cultured minds. (December, 1922)

In 2008 Stephen F. Austin State University is beginning its Eighty-Fifth Anniversary Year. Every anniversary is a time for reflection, celebration, and planning for the opportunities and responsibilities of the future. History is important to SFA. Our web site THE SFA STORY is the university's tribute to its heritage as we enter our 85th year. The university will also celebrate during the academic year of 2008-2009. As part of our celebrations, we will place markers, unfurl banners, and host festive occasions. Our 85th anniversary will also give us an opportunity to release new strategic plans, complete assessments, and lay foundations for our future contributions to the education of the citizens of Texas.

Last December, the Texas Historical Commission recognized one of our early faculty members as one of the foremost poets and educators in the State of Texas. In 1906, in an eloquent letter advocating the need for an institution of higher learning, Texas poet laureate Karle Wilson Baker said of Nacogdoches:

Nobody need to be told what a college can do for the spirit and atmosphere of a town. The spirit of Nacogdoches today is a gift from the men of the past; the spirit of the future will be the gift of the men of today.

These words are no less true for Stephen F. Austin State University's role in all of East Texas. SFA pioneered education in East Texas in the past. Our present commitment to continue this tradition is our promise and gift to the future generations of Texas.


Stephen F. Austin State University





85th Kickoff
Dr. Pattillo inaugurates the 85th anniversary year
by welcoming everyone back to the campus. He sent
birthday cakes to each of the colleges as a kickoff to
a year of celebrations.



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Contact: Dr. Jere L. Jackson
©Jere L. Jackson, SFASU