SFA Celebrates 100 Years

A LOOK BACK AT SFA’S HISTORYSFA 100 Celebration Special Section

Early Years

1917-1921
Planting seeds
SFA is chartered by the Texas legislature, Nacogdoches is selected as its location and the appropriation bill for funding is signed.

1923
First classes held, mascot selected
During campus construction, the first group of SFA students attend class nearby. The Lumberjack mascot is selected by popular vote at a special student assembly of faculty and students.

1924
Vista Drive opens
Vista Drive
Since the completion of the Austin Building in 1924, Vista Drive has provided a unique view of the campus.

1935
First homecoming
Homecoming is now an annual fall event featuring a bonfire, two parades and, of course, football.

1940s

1944
Experimental Forest established
SFA Experimental Forest
The Stephen F. Austin Experimental Forest is established by an act of Congress and measures more than 2,500 acres. It is still in use for recreation, forestry and wildlife management research.

1947
First Lumberjack Day
Lumberjack Day started by a proclamation of the Student Body President. Students on campus are expected to wear blue jeans, overalls, plaid shirts and boots.

1949
SFA’s first renaming
Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College renames itself to Stephen F. Austin State College. It is the first of two name changes — the second took place in 1969 when SFA became a university.

1950s-60s

1950
Building boom
SFA Shelton Gym
Shelton Gym and Mays Hall are constructed to keep up with the post-war boom from returning veterans.

1958
Fine arts gets a home
Ground is broken on the Griffith Fine Arts building.

1960
College Center opens
College Center Opens at SFA
The center included the college cafeteria, book store, post office and recreational facilities. Throughout the years, it has been called the University Center and the Baker Pattillo Student Center.

1969
SFA becomes a university
A big day in our history as SFA moves up from a college to a full-fledged university.

1970s

1972
Homer Bryce Stadium constructed
The spirited home field of the SFA Lumberjacks football team is constructed on the northeast side of campus.

1974
Don’t look, Ethel!
Streaking at SFA
Dr. Ralph W. Steen allows students to streak on campus for one night, March 6, 1974, without repercussions.

1979
Axe ’em, Jacks hand sign created
SFA Axe 'Em
Thanks to the school spirit of a small group of creative SFA cheerleaders, the university now has its own signature hand sign.

1980s-90s

1983
“Surfin’ Steve” fountain installed
SFA 1983
Due to a dramatic stance and flowing water, this iconic statue of Stephen F. Austin is affectionately nicknamed “Surfin’ Steve.”

1984
Observatory addition
SFA physics and astronomy faculty members design and construct what was then and is still the largest student telescope on a Texas university campus, measuring 41 inches.

1985
Putting down roots
The Mast Arboretum begins as a project of SFA’s first landscape plant materials class. Since then, it has gained a reputation for its diverse collection of plants and its dedication to conservation, education and research.

1985
Hall 20
Opening in fall of 1985, Hall 20 is the first co-ed dorm on campus.

1989
Athletics nationally ranked
Lumberjack football team is ranked number one in the nation for the first time.

1992
Coliseum renamed
The coliseum is renamed to William R. Johnson Coliseum in recognition of former president’s efforts to advance athletics.

1993
Student volunteerism gets a boost
As part of the university’s 70th anniversary, SFA’s First Sweat Equity Day is established, leading to a tradition of SFA involvement in community assistance projects.

1995
Ol’ Cotton makes some noise
The university and its military science department purchase Ol’ Cotton, the cannon fired at SFA football games, to help promote school spirit.

1997
Registration moves online
Every office on campus now has its own website, and in-person paper-based course registration moves out of the Norton HPE Complex and onto the internet.

1997
First permanent endowment created
The campaign “Share the Legacy” gives the university its first permanent endowment. Approximately 3,500 alumni and private donors give more than $37 million to aid the university in serving the educational needs of East Texas.

1997
In bloom
Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden at SFA
Work on the eight-acre Ruby Mize Azalea Garden begins.

2000s-2020s

2001
Focus on diversity
Under Dr. Tito Guerrero, the university’s seventh president, enrollment pressures lessen as diversity increases and more African-American, Hispanic and international students enter the institution than ever before.

2007
Baker Pattillo becomes president
The board of regents names the first alumnus to serve as president – Dr. Baker Pattillo, a veteran SFA administrator for more than 40 years.

2010
Garner Apartments demolished
What was once the tallest building in town is razed to make way for Lumberjack Landing.

2018
STEM Building
Ed & Gwen Cole STEM Building at SFA
$46.4 million Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building officially opens, and students begin learning in its state-of-the-art classrooms, labs and collaborative work spaces.

2019
SFA beats Duke in their house
SFA Beats Duke at Duke University
Duke, ranked #1 in the nation, had not lost at home to a non-conference opponent in 150 games.

2021
Basketball facility expansion
Loddie Naymola Basketball Practice Facility at SFA
Loddie Naymola Basketball Performance Center is completed.

2022
A New Chapter
SFA Joins University of Texas system
Board of Trustees votes to join the University of Texas system.


Presidents Through the Years

1917-42
Dr. Alton Birdwell

1942-58
Dr. Paul L. Boynton

Interim
Dr. Joe N. Gerber

1958-76
Dr. Ralph W. Steen

1976-90
Dr. William R. Johnson

1990-91
Dr. Donald Bowen

Interim
Dr. William J. Brophy

1992-99
Dr. Dan Angel

Interim
Dr. Roland K. Smith

2001-06
Dr. Tito Guerrero

2006-18
Dr. Baker Pattillo

Interim
Dr. Steve Westbrook

2019-22
Dr. Scott Gordon

Interim
Dr. Steve Westbrook

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Newcomer Guide
Chamber Directory & Map
These premier Chamber publications are widely distributed throughout Nacogdoches County and beyond!
© Copyright 2005-2023 Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved.
2516 North St., Nacogdoches, Texas 75965 • (936) 560-5533
Unless otherwise noted, no part of this website may be reproduced without written permission.
Email us with questions or comments.