Artifacts show richness of SFA’s 100-year history

SFA is preparing to celebrate it’s centennial anniversary.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 2:25 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:47 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The largest university in East Texas is turning 100 years old this month.

Over those years, Stephen F. Austin State University has been part of thousands of students’ journeys.

“It’s very, very significant for our students, our alumni, and our faculty and stuff. There’s a buzz around campus; a lot of people are excited,” said the chairman of the SFA Centennial Committee, John Branch

Branch said the school has many events underway to celebrate its centennial anniversary. SFA kicks off a four-day celebration on Friday, including alumni awards, sports games, and a ribbon cutting of the new Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts building.

The official opening of the university was on September 18, 1923. University archivist Chris Cotton explained it was thanks to one City of Nacogdoches citizen committee that advocated for a teacher’s college to the area.

“The teachers’ college was part of a larger program by the State of Texas to increase education in the rural parts of the state,” said Cotton.

The Austin Building that sits on Vista Drive wasn’t completed yet for the 1923 fall semester, and it wasn’t until May of 1924 that classes first took place on today’s SFA Campus.

‘The City of Nacogdoches itself actually stepped up and built buildings on the campus of the high school to host the first classes,” explained Cotton.

The Austin and the Rusk were the first two buildings of SFA, and now - 100 years later - there are 79 academic and administrative buildings across the campus.

These include six academic colleges, an academic library, research facilities, an agricultural center, athletic facilities, student housing, and dining facilities. It totals over 180 structures that make up the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University and its properties.

During the university’s first ten years, there were 2,782 students. Cotton said the average enrollment for those years was between 250 and 350 students every academic year.

Over the last ten years, SFA has between 11,500 and 13,000 enrolled students every academic year.

The university became part of the University of Texas System this year, which Cotton said sets up the university for a great future.

“The resources being part of the UT System, it just really sets SFA up for the next 100 years,” he said.

Branch said the centennial celebration is an event you will want to attend.

“To be on campus during the 100th anniversary is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

You can find SFA’s Centennial Celebration event schedule at this link.