Texas Legislature approves partial funding for new STEM building - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Texas Legislature approves partial funding for new STEM building at SFA

Legislative approval of $46.4 million for a new STEM building at SFA is putting the long awaited construction back on track. (Source: KTRE Staff) Legislative approval of $46.4 million for a new STEM building at SFA is putting the long awaited construction back on track. (Source: KTRE Staff)
DeaDr. Kim Child, the dean of SFA's College of Science and Mathematics, says even though funding is 20 percent less than requested it will be enough to get the project going. (Source: KTRE Staff) DeaDr. Kim Child, the dean of SFA's College of Science and Mathematics, says even though funding is 20 percent less than requested it will be enough to get the project going. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies are encouraged nationwide. SFA has requested funding at least twice for a STEM building. (Source: KTRE Staff) Science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies are encouraged nationwide. SFA has requested funding at least twice for a STEM building. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

It was a nail biter to the end, but the state legislature approved tuition revenue bonds for Texas universities on Sunday, the day before the session came to an end.

The last time university construction funds were approved were way back in 2006. Stephen F. Austin State University can now proceed on a long awaited Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) building.

Dean of SFA's College of Science and Mathematics Dr. Kim Childs knows.

"Don't count the money before it gets here,” said Dr. Kim Childs, the dean of SFA's science and mathematics.

That lesson came two years ago following an unexpected rejection at the midnight hour. The construction of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics building was delayed. Finally, on Sunday funding was approved, but it was $12 million less than requested.

"They authorized $46.4 million for the STEM building,” Childs said. “We had asked for $58 million. The decision was made across the board cuts at 20 percent.”

Childs said the university is flexible enough to make adjustments and proceed. The college still launched an engineering physics degree program despite inadequate space, antiquated technology, and the miserable funding loss of two years ago.

"A STEM building would be worth nothing without the momentum that we have now going of the awareness of the urgency of promoting the STEM disciplines across the board,” Childs said.

The proposed high-tech building will set the stage for an additional petroleum engineering program.

"It appears that we could experience a 400 percent growth by the very day we walk into the new building,” Childs said.

Start and completion dates are still being worked out, but just knowing a building is in the future is satisfaction enough for Childs.

Proposals from architectural firms were already in motion. That information is due before the July board of regents meeting.

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