SFA interim president discusses goals, challenges in regard to upcoming legislative session

SFA interim president discusses goals, challenges in regard to upcoming legislative session
interim sfa president steve westbrook works at the desk once occupied by his mentor prior to leaving for Austin. (Source: KTRE)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Dr. Steve Westbrook, Stephen F. Austin State University’s interim president, is in Austin this week.

He's there for the opening of the legislative session.

It’s his first time while serving in this leadership role to work the state capitol without Dr. Baker Pattillo, his mentor.

The former president was buried on Friday.

Westbrook has a new title, but he's familiar with the job he's been called to do.

Westbrook exhibited confidence that would make his mentor proud.

“Life at the university will march on. We will miss him, but we will do everything we can to make sure the university doesn’t skip a beat moving forward,” Westbrook said prior to leaving for Austin.

Westbrook points out that 29 years of experience working alongside Pattillo taught him a lot. He knows the mission before him.

“To make contact with the appropriate offices as they all reopen as the legislative session begins. It’s the cycle of the business of the university, and it will continue," Westbrook said.

What's uncertain is if three regents whose terms expire at the end of this month will continue. The governor makes the appointments.

“We hope the governor moves a little bit slowly because we like our current regents, so as we go through this time of transition, it would be very nice if we had that very informed and together board,” Westbrook commented.

In 2019, the top priority for legislators is public school finance. Universities won’t compete with that. For SFA, now is an opportunity to stay on track and assure stakeholders that the university is strong and vibrant.

State Representative Travis Clardy said Thursday he’s hopeful higher education funding will remain stable. Clardy said all indicators is a strong base of funding may allow that to happen.

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