By Christine Broussard, assistant director for strategic communications at Stephen F. Austin State University
NACOGDOCHES — In an event that happens once in a lifetime, Stephen F. Austin State University is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a full slate of months-long initiatives that will culminate in a weekend of celebrations in September.
“Since SFA first opened its doors in 1923, it’s been a place of transformation for thousands of students eager to forge a bold path for themselves,” said Gina Oglesbee, SFA interim president. “SFA’s first class totaled just 270 students. Today, more than 115,000 alumni continue to make a difference using the lessons they learned here on our beautiful pine-covered campus. I am excited to welcome them back to celebrate their alma mater alongside our current students, faculty, staff, SFA friends and Nacogdoches and regional community members.”
Schedule of events
An all-are-welcome birthday party Sept. 18, SFA’s Founders Day, will cap off a four-day weekend of events celebrating the university’s 100 years. The official Centennial Celebration kickoff begins with the SFA Alumni Association’s annual awards ceremony Sept. 15, which is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at sfaalumni.com.
The weekend celebration’s second day, Sept. 16, will be dedicated to honoring the relationship the university has long held with its host town, Nacogdoches. Visitors, returning alumni, students and community members are encouraged to attend events and initiatives taking place throughout the city. A complete list will be shared closer to the event.
“Planning for our Centennial Celebration has been ongoing for years because we understood the gravity of this immense milestone,” said John Branch, SFA Centennial Committee chair and interim assistant vice president for finance and administration. “We made sure the weekend of events honors the university’s past while celebrating its bright future.”
The Griffith Fine Arts Building grand reopening will be the focus of festivities Sept. 17. A ribbon-cutting will take place at 1:30 p.m. followed by plaque unveilings at 2 p.m. The $53 million expansion more than doubled the size of the existing building and added state-of-the-art performance spaces, rehearsal halls, and dance studios, among many other additions in the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts. The full scope of the project can be viewed at finearts.sfasu.edu/expansion.
The world premiere of a composition commissioned for the university’s centennial — and created by Dr. Stephen Lias, professor of composition in SFA’s School of Music — will take place at 4 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Griffith Fine Arts Building’s Turner Auditorium.
The open house also features self-guided tours of the building before the auditorium is opened for its first public viewing and concert. While all activities of the day are free and open to the public, the concert is a ticketed event due to limited seating. Complimentary tickets, available while they last, can be obtained by contacting the Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or email@example.com
The final day of the centennial weekend, Sept. 18, will begin with the dedication of the Centennial Ring Plaza at 10:30 a.m. and the unveiling of a new campus statue gifted to the university by the SFA Alumni Association. Guided and self-guided tours will be ongoing into the weekend’s grand finale: a sprawling centennial birthday party on and along Vista Drive, which will take place at 4 p.m. that day.
“We’re planning to give a nod to the way celebrations occurred during the beginning years of the university by having long communal tables lining the road for Lumberjacks to meet up and celebrate our history and our future,” said Heather Howell, SFA Centennial Committee member and SFA director of advancement services. “The area near Vista Drive will be set up similar to a festival, filled with vendor booths, activities, memories and more so visitors can truly acknowledge what this university means to them.”
During the festival, visitors will be invited to partake in birthday cake and ice cream, take self-guided tours of campus, and participate in games and activities set up in the area. Guests will also be invited to tour the Centennial Axe Handle Exhibit, which will be set up in the Pearman Alumni Center’s Hall of Honor.
Lumberjacks are encouraged to continue participating in and contributing to several ongoing initiatives and projects meant to honor the university’s 100th anniversary:
- Centennial Axe Handle Exhibit — Alumni can submit their decorated axe handles to SFA’s Centennial Axe Handle Exhibit. The exhibit will feature axe handles loaned by the university community, and a digital slideshow ensures that distant Jacks can also participate.
- 100K Service Hours for 100 Years — Students, alumni and SFA employees are competing to see who can log the most volunteer hours in honor of SFA’s centennial year. Keep up with totals and log volunteer hours at sfasu.edu/centennial.
- Planting 100 Pine Trees — SFA has a goal to plant 100 pine trees in honor of SFA’s 100 years. Individuals, organizations, fraternity and sorority chapters, groups of friends and the public can make a donation to have a tree planted on the SFA campus in honor of another person or group.
All SFA Centennial Celebration events are open to the public, and all except the SFA Alumni Association awards ceremony are free.
View the up-to-date SFA Centennial Celebration schedule of events, read about the university’s history, find downloadable graphics and more at sfasu.edu/centennial.