I am proud to say I helped draft and pass this bill to protect SFA’s name! Even though I am a Baylor Bear I have some SFA pride after working for Representative Wayne Christian who represents SFA and the rest of Texas State House District 9.
By MICHELE MARCOTTE
The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel
Monday, August 24, 2009
NACOGDOCHES — Gov. Rick Perry visited the SFA campus Monday afternoon to ceremonially sign into law Senate Bill 596, which prohibits the board of regents from ever changing the name of the university, thus “cementing the legacy of the school,” Perry said.
“This school does have a long history,” Perry said to a packed board room in the Austin building. “It’s associated with an individual who forever will be known as a leader and a visionary individual.
Photo by Hardy Meredith
|Gov. Rick Perry signs legislation Monday afternoon ensuring the name of SFA will never change. Also pictured are, from left, SFA Regents Melvin White and Bob Garrett, SFA President Baker Pattillo, Regent Valerie Ertz, Sen. Robert Nichols, Regent Scott Coleman, Student Regent Morgan Tomberlain, Rep. Wayne Christian, and Regent Steve McCarty.
“This school has been setting high standards for 85-plus years. It’s got a proud history. It’s got a history that says a lot of different things, and one of the things it says is we’ve never been comfortable with status quo. We’re going to keep improving. We’re going to keep moving forward.”
He said higher education is improving all across the state, with enrollment in public institutions increasing every year since 2000.
“There has been an additional 280,000 students who have taken that vital step in improving their lives, and not just changing their lives, but our state forever,” he said.
Perry credited the increase to not only Texas’ growing population, but also to the fact that higher education has become more accessible through expansion of financial aid.
Standing beside state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, who authored the bill, and state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, Perry referred to the two legislators as the “dynamic duo,” adding he was unsure who was Robin and who was Batman, but had seen firsthand how their work together impacts the Texas Legislature.
Nichols, who spoke briefly prior to the ceremonial signing of the legislation, said he filed the legislation at the request of the trustees of SFA and worked with Christian to ensure the school’s name was preserved.
“Stephen F. Austin, the father of the state of Texas, is known to all of us as very deep-rooted into the history of our state,” Nichols said. “Stephen F. Austin University history also has a long history of education excellence, which we want to carry forward. And, by preserving the name, we honor both of them.”
Christian, likewise, voiced his support of how SB 596 preserves the contributions Stephen F. Austin made to the state and permanently links Austin’s name with the school.
“I’m proud to be able to serve and represent a university that will be forever named because of Rick Perry, who chose to support us in this legislation,” he said.
Following the ceremonial signing, Perry opened the floor up for questions, addressing a comment Kay Bailey Hutchison made during a campaign stop in Waco last week, in which she said that he was “bad for business,” and criticized him for not doing enough to cut taxes.
“I guess when you go to Washington and stay up there 16 years, you may lose touch with a little bit about what is going on down here in the state of Texas,” he said. “But, I think Texans don’t like our state to be attacked, and we get a little bit offended when someone attacks our state. To say that Texas is some how or another not good for business, you probably just haven’t spent enough time in Texas in the last 16 years to understand what is going on.”
He noted that several national publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Economist recently shed a favorable light on the state’s business climate, and he thought that was a good sign business was doing well in the state.
“I understand politics,” he said. “It’s not my first time around the tree or flag pole, but I hope, if she does decide to run, in her final analysis … I hope she will recognize that what Wayne Christian, Robert Nichols and the rest of us have created here is the envy of the states.”
S.B. 596 was actually enrolled by the senate on May 26 and signed into law by Perry on June 19.
Michele Marcotte’s e-mail address