Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the formal vote count.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) – The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents voted on Tuesday to accept the University of Texas system offer for affiliation.

The decision was approved in an 8-1 vote by the board with one member opposing, saying they feared the decision would eventually lead to the name of the university being changed.

Officials said SFA will now officially accept the university system’s offer so they can begin the process of affiliation.

“We are honored and enthusiastic about taking the next steps together in this process with confidence that this union will make each of us stronger,” Kevin Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents said. “Our proposal to SFA outlined our sincere commitment to helping the university build upon its programs, traditions and culture that have made the university unique for nearly a century, while adding resources to help amplify those strengths and ultimately serve more Texans.”

Some students, staff, and alumni are afraid that things may change at SFA.

“I’m concerned we are going to have to like switch everything, like switch the signs and start wearing different colors and stuff,” said Peyton Watson, a sophomore at the university.

In a special called meeting earlier on Tuesday, the system affiliation evaluation subcommittee recommended SFA join the University of Texas system.

Representatives said during a presentation that the subcommittee focused on financial impact, and found that joining any of the four schools who offered affiliation would be beneficial to the university’s growth.

The university evaluated offers from the Texas A&M, Texas Tech, University of Texas and Texas State systems.

“We are excited about the enormous opportunities this affiliation will provide for our students, faculty and staff,” Karen Gantt, SFA board of regents chair said. “We know that the future of SFA will be enhanced by becoming a member of the leading university system in the country.”

According to officials, the name, mascot and colors of SFA would not change, but the way the school is funded could change based on their decision.

“I look forward to witnessing SFA’s coming growth and success and to hearing future historians of this university point back to Nov. 29, Giving Tuesday as the pivotal day that launched SFA to new heights and prepared it for greater achievements,” said David Alders, a board member with the SFA Board of Regents.

SFA’s interim President Dr. Steve Westbrook said he will be working closely with system officials over the next few weeks as the search for the next SFA president begins.

“I will keep the campus updated on that progress,” Westbrook said.

The University of Texas system has included additional funding for scholarships, the forestry program and mental health resources in their offer. The offer also includes $5.5 million for staff salaries and would give the university access to the University of Texas online library system.

The University of Texas system currently houses their main campus in Austin, with campuses in Tyler, Arlington and more across Texas.


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