SFA Named University of Texas #1 for Institution Serving Rural Areas | KETK.com

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) — Stephen F. Austin State University has been named the first university in Texas of its size as an institution serving rural areas.

The Regional College Research Alliance awarded the SFA the designation and placed it 11th nationally.

Jerry Kenney, program manager for education and economic opportunity for the TLL Temple Foundation, said SFA is the only major university located in the Deep East Texas region.

“As a source of a cutting-edge rural workforce, a hub of rural innovation, and a place to pursue great rural ideas and opportunities, a thriving East Texas now and in the future requires a vibrant SFA that embraces its role as an institution serving rural areas,” Kenney said.

According to ARRC research, the results show the importance of the role played by RSI in providing access to college education for small communities.

“RSIs are important access points to education for low-income students, adult learners, and those from marginalized racial backgrounds, and they are critical to regional economic development, as many RSIs are the largest employer in their region,” said Dr. Andrew Koricich, the project’s Principal Investigator and Executive Director of the ARRC.

While SFA serves its rural students and the surrounding rural area, Karyn Hall, SFA’s director of institutional research, said the university serves rural East Texas while serving students in metropolitan areas.

“We are a hybrid institution in that 90% of our students report residing within 200 miles of the university and 40% report proximity within 100 miles of campus,” Hall said. “About 50% of SFA students come from the Dallas and Houston areas and about 38% come from the East Texas area. We serve rural, diverse and hybrid regions.

The AARC used five factors to score institutions to identify institutions serving rural areas, including:

  • Percentage of settlement’s home county population classified as rural
  • Average percentage of population in adjacent counties classified as rural
  • Population size of home county of settlement
  • Adjacency of settlement’s home county to a metropolitan area
  • Percentage of total scholarships awarded by the institution in the fields of agriculture, natural resources and parks and recreation.

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