“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Nacogdoches in Nacogdoches County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Alton W. Birdwell


Alton W. Birdwell Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Gustafson, March 31, 2010
1. Alton W. Birdwell Marker
Inscription.  This plaza is dedicated to the memory of the first president of Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College. In 1917 the state created an "East Texas Normal" and selected Nacogdoches as its location. The State Board of Regents selected East Texas historian Alton W. Birdwell to lead the new institution. From his arrival in Nacogdoches until his death, Birdwell dedicated his life to the interests of the institution and set rigorous standards for the new college. He pioneered higher education in East Texas by forging a lasting partnership with the citizens of Nacogdoches and other towns of East Texas in support of the institution's educational mission. He laid out the campus, established the rules, and recruited a dedicated faculty. He always placed the needs of the institution above circumstances. When faced with collapsing enrollments, limited funds, and a legislative threat to close the college during the Great Depression, Birdwell organized a regional defense of the college that saved the institution. Despite criticism, he welcomed Public Works Administration aid and continued the expansion of the college buildings. Birdwell prepared SFA students
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and oversaw the first campus responses to World War II. As President Emeritus after 1942, Birdwell endeared himself to his successor Dr. Paul Boynton.

In 1953 Birdwell's friends endorsed and dedicated SFA's first scholarship to him. On this site in 1954, the Regents named a new classroom building in his honor. After Birdwell's death, Boynton said "The college is a perpetual memorial to the late educator."

The Board of Regents of Stephen F. Austin University takes pride in designating Birdwell Plaza a part of the historic campus property he loved.
Erected 2009 by Stephen F. Austin State University.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education. A significant historical year for this entry is 1917.
Location. 31° 37.362′ N, 94° 39.138′ W. Marker is in Nacogdoches, Texas, in Nacogdoches County. Marker is on North Street (Business U.S. 59F) near East College Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Nacogdoches TX 75961, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Karle Wilson Baker (approx. 0.2 miles away); Austin Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Stephen Fuller Austin (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Alton W. Birdwell (approx. 0.2 miles away); Paul Lewis Boynton
Birdwell Plaza image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Gustafson, March 31, 2010
2. Birdwell Plaza
Marker is viewable in the center of the photo.
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Pioneering Higher Education in East Texas (approx. 0.2 miles away); The University Tradition in Nacogdoches (approx. 0.2 miles away); Thomas Jefferson Rusk (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nacogdoches.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on April 21, 2010, by Steve Gustafson of Lufkin, Texas. This page has been viewed 775 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 21, 2010, by Steve Gustafson of Lufkin, Texas. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 3, 2023