Stephen F. Austin State University

Stephen F. Austin State University
Motto Striving For Personal Excellence In Everything That We Do
Type State university, public
Established 1921
Academic affiliation
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Endowment $74.3 million[1]
President Baker Pattillo
Provost Steven Bullard
Students 13,000
Location Nacogdoches, Texas, U.S.
Campus Small Town, 406 acres (1.64 km2)
Colors Purple and White[2]
Nickname Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I FCSSouthland Conference

Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) is a public university located in Nacogdoches, Texas, United States. Founded as a teachers' college in 1923 as a result of legislation authored by State Senator Wilfred Roy Cousins, Sr.[3], the university was subsequently renamed after one of Texas's founding fathers, Stephen F. Austin. Its campus resides on part of the homestead of Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Stephen F. Austin is one of four independent public universities in Texas (i.e., those not affiliated with one of Texas's six university systems).

Coordinates: 31°37′17″N 94°38′57″W / 31.62139°N 94.64917°W / 31.62139; -94.64917Stephen F. Austin State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.[4]

The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks are members of the Southland Conference and compete in Division I for all varsity sports. The Lumberjacks football team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. The Lumberjacks basketball team has made five[5] appearances in the NCAA Division I Tournament, with two upset first-round wins in 2014 and 2016.

Though the university is located in the rural East Texas college town of Nacogdoches, the vast majority of SFA students come from Greater Houston, the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, and other cities throughout Texas. SFA has also served students from 46 states outside Texas and 42 countries outside the United States.[6]


Stephen F. Austin offers more than 120 areas of study, including more than 80 undergraduate majors, nearly 60 graduate degrees, and three doctoral programs. Stephen F. Austin offers classes through six colleges and one independent school.

The Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture is nationally recognized, and houses one of only two schools of forestry in the State of Texas (and the only forestry college in the timber-producing East Texas region).

During the 2014–2015 academic year, there were 2,690 degrees awarded. Of those degrees, 2,108 (78%) were undergraduate, 558 were post-graduate (21%), and 24 (1%) were doctoral.

In addition to the main campus which is located on 430 acres, the university maintains a 642-acre (2.60 km2) agricultural research center for beef, poultry, and swine production and an equine center; an observatory for astronomy research, a 1,072-hectare (approximately 2,649-acre) experimental forest in southwestern Nacogdoches County and a 25.3-acre (102,000 m2) forestry field station on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

Since 2007, Stephen F. Austin has served as the headquarters of the Association for Business Communication. It is also the home of the National Center for Pharmaceutical Crops, which in 2011 discovered a potential cancer-fighting agent from the extract of giant salvinia, one of the world's most notorious invasive species.[7]

Colleges and schools

  • Nelson Rusche College of Business
    • Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy
  • James I. Perkins College of Education
  • College of Fine Arts
  • Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
  • College of Liberal and Applied Arts
  • College of Sciences and Mathematics
  • Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing


  • Alton W. Birdwell (1923–1941)
  • Paul Boynton (1942–1958)
  • Ralph W. Steen (1958–1976)
  • William R. Johnson (1976–1990)
  • Donald Bowen (1990–1991)
  • William J. Brophy (1991–1992) (interim)
  • Dan Angel (1992–1999)
  • Roland Smith (1999–2001) (interim)
  • Tito Guerrero (2001–2006)
  • Baker Pattillo (2006–present)


In tribute to the forestry industry, which is a major component of the area's economy, the men's athletic teams are called Lumberjacks, and women's teams are known as Ladyjacks. All of SFA's athletic teams participate in the Southland Conference which hosts teams from the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Stephen F. Austin's colors are Purple and White.

Stephen F. Austin sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (Football Championship Subdivision) for football in the Southland Conference. SFA's football team earned a berth into the FCS playoffs in 2009, which was the first for the university since 1995. The team also earned a playoff berth in 2010, marking the first time in the program's history that the team had reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The 2010 season also marked the first time that the school had won an outright conference championship since 1989. Stephen F. Austin's only bowl appearance was the 1973 Poultry Bowl, in which the team defeated Gardner–Webb 31–10.

The men's basketball team reached its first NCAA tournament in 2009 after winning the Southland Conference regular season and tournament.[8] They lost 59–44 to Syracuse University. In their second appearance in 2014, they upset Virginia Commonwealth in overtime, 77–75. In their third appearance in 2016, they upset 3rd seeded West Virginia 70–56. In the second round against 6th seeded Notre Dame they lost 77–76 on a buzzer beater by Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger.


  • The annual Parents Day is one of the largest student run programs on the campus of SFA. Parents, friends and family members of students visit the campus every fall for a day of activities and school spirit. Parents Day is sponsored by the Residence Hall Association in conjunction with the Housing and Residence Life Departments.
  • The University's main rivals are Sam Houston State University and Northwestern State University.
  • SFA Rugby Fest is a popular event that takes place every year. Many schools in the region show up to play in this tournament.
  • Every year at Homecoming a bonfire is lit by members of Alpha Phi Omega and of the organization that has the most points earned in a series of competitions leading up to the Homecoming celebration. The bonfire is built by the members of Alpha Phi Omega (international service fraternity). Preceding the lighting of the bonfire, a "Torchlight Parade" is held, where students walk through campus with lights to the Homecoming Pep Rally.
  • The Student Activities Association distributes Homecoming Shirts by allowing students to trade in other university-affiliated garments. Participants get new SFA shirts, and the used trade-ins are burned in the Homecoming bonfire.
  • The Sawyers were created in 1927 as the first men's social organization. In November 1960, the Sawyers adapted Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. They were the first group to have a reserved section in the stands at football games, which was requested by Homer Bryce, for whom the stadium is named. The Sawyers began the tradition of bringing axe handles to the football games and using them as noise makers/spirit sticks. The Purple Haze Inc. began incorporating the tradition of the axe handle in 2002 in honor and respect to the Sawyers.
  • The Student Government Association host its annual Watermelon Bash each summer. Watermelons are iced in the fountain around the statue of Stephen F. Austin in the center of campus, and the university president, deans and other administrators help distribute watermelons slices to students and other members of the campus community.
  • At every home football game, the SFA ROTC introduces the opposing team to Ole Cotton. Each time the Lumberjacks score, Ole Cotton is fired. The sound booms through the stadium and the town. If you have never been to a game, but you've heard the booms, don't worry. It's just those Lumberjacks kickin' some axe.[9]
  • It is possible that a student might have to miss an athletic event due to the need to study for a more important final or midterm. To let those who are unable to attend know of our victory, SFA has purple lights visible on top of one of the tallest buildings on campus, Steen Hall. A purple light also is illuminated in the Student Center clock tower. After every SFA game, the students of SFA and the residents of Nacogdoches can look to the purple lights on campus and rejoice in our victory.[9]
  • In 1923 the students and faculty met in assembly to decide upon a name for the athletic teams. Several names were considered, and those proposing the names led yells to demonstrate the greatness of their nominations. By vote, the assembly chose LUMBERJACKS, the name submitted by T. E. Ferguson, professor of English (the choice was appropriate given the university's location in the Piney Woods, where forestry and timber products are a major part of the area's economy). Since that time, the mascot of SFA has continued to represent the university and community of Nacogdoches.[9]
  • The SFA Ring is SFA's official class ring. Students receive the ring in a ceremony called the Big Dip. The Big Dip signifies one of the last steps to alumni-hood as students and friends of the university dip their hand in purple water from the SFA Statue and are presented with their ring by Dr. Baker Pattillo.[9]
  • The Chief Caddo Trophy stands 7 feet 6 inches in height, weighs over 320 pounds and is the largest symbol passed between NCAA universities in the nation. The statue is awarded annually to the winner of the Lumberjack-Demon contest. The statue originated in 1960 when longtime rivals SFA and Northwestern State decided to award the winner of the game a trophy. The two institutions settled on a statue of a mythical Indian chief whose tribe was fabled to be responsible for settling the locations that became English-speaking Nacogdoches and Natchitoches.[9]
  • Closing out the year is the last real party of the spring semester, and it's held right on campus. Springfest is sponsored by the Student Activities Association and features bands, in games, free food and drinks, and thousands of dollars in prizes and free stuff. Springfest is held over a one-week period, usually at the end of April.[9]

Notable alumni and faculty

Points of interest and notable campus buildings

  • Mast Arboretum
  • The Stone Fort Museum, built in 1936, is a museum and a replica of the eighteenth century house built by Antonio Gil Y'Barbo, the earliest Spanish settler of Nacogdoches.[10][11]
  • The Planetarium[12]
  • The Observatory[13]
  • SFA Art Galleries[14]
    • Griffith Gallery
    • The Art Center
  • Ralph W. Steen Library[15]
  • The AARC, Academic Assistance and Resource Center, is located on the first floor of the Ralph W. Steen Library, and offers free tutoring to Stephen F. Austin State University students:[16]
  • The ETRC, East Texas Research Center, is located for public use on the second floor of the Ralph W. Steen Library:[17]
  • The East Texas Historical Association is based on the Stephen F. Austin campus.


  1. As of 2015. "Overview". Stephen F. Austin State University.
  2. SFA Official University Identity Standards (PDF). Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  3. "In Memory of Wilfred Roy Cousins". Journal of the Senate of the State of Texas, First and Second Called Sessions of the Seventieth Legislature, Volume 4, legislative document, 1987: 310. 1987.
  4. "Accreditations | SFASU". Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  5. "Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks basketball". Wikipedia. 2018-03-23.
  7. July 11, 2011 – SFA Public Affairs (2011-07-11). "SFA researchers discover cancer-treating potential of invasive plant | News from 2011 | SFASU". Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  8. "SFA earns first NCAA bid, Texas and A&M also in".
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Traditions Council | Student Affairs Programs | SFASU". Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  10. "Recorded Texas Historic Landmark Replacement Marker for Old Stone Fort". 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  11. "The Stone Fort Museum". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  12. "The Planetarium". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  13. "SFA Observatory". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  14. "Page Not Found – College of Fine Arts – SFASU". Archived from the original on 2004-02-22.
  15. "Ralph W. Steen Library :: Home". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  16. "Tutoring - Academic Assistance and Resource Center". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  17. "Ralph W. Steen Library :: Archives". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
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