Stephen F. Austin State University


History of the SON

The main campus of Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) is a 360-acre setting of pines and natural beauty with some twenty-eight major instructional buildings. Recent construction includes a multi-story residence hall, a parking garage, and a new student recreation center. There is a science-research center, an agricultural center, an experimental forest, and a forestry field station in off-campus locations.

The History of the School of Nursing

In 1971, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) and the Texas College and University System initiated a study of the supply of nurses and the availability of nursing education in the State of Texas. The final report submitted by HECB in 1975 identified areas of need for nursing in Texas. The study identified, as an area of educational need, programs that addressed educational mobility (multiple entry and exit points).

In 1976, under the leadership of Dr. William R. Johnson, University President, and Dr. Beverlyanne Robinson, Nursing Director, the University submitted a proposal to the Texas HECB to establish a BSN program for nurses with either an Associate Degree (ADN) or Diploma Degree. The Division of Nursing (DON) program was approved, and in May, 1978, initial accreditation was granted by the Board of Nurse Examiners (BNE), currently known as the Board of Nursing (BON). The first class was enrolled during the second summer session of 1978.

Faculty performed the initial self-study process for National League for Nursing (NLN) accreditation from 1978-1980 and submitted the report to the Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degrees for consideration in December, 1980. The DON was notified of initial NLN accreditation for the degree completion program on December 10, 1980.

In 1979, faculty prepared a proposal to the Texas HECB and the BNE for a four-year generic nursing track to be added to the existing program. The Texas HECB and the BNE gave final approval for implementation of the proposal for a four-year program in March, 1981.

The first class of students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program was accepted in the fall semester, 1981. New facilities for the baccalaureate program in nursing were included in the plan of October, 1981. Construction of the building began in August, 1982, and the building was occupied in fall, 1983.

In 1988, the NLN approved the DON continued accreditation for another eight-year cycle. Since that time, the DON has continued growth and expansion. The DON increased enrollment from twenty students per regular semester to thirty students in 2001. It increased to forty students in 2002. The DON's five-year strategic plan, written in fall 2004, called for a gradual increase to eighty students between 2007-2009.

Because of the continuing nursing shortage, the Texas Legislature established plans for nursing education programs to increase enrollment as soon as possible. Funds were made available for increasing the enrollments at state schools of nursing in 2004. In the 2005 legislative session, the Legislature enacted additional funding of $1.7 million, as a line item, for the support of nursing students at SFASU. Because of the appropriation of $1.7 million to the University for nursing, plans for increased enrollment moved forward, resulting in an increase of students accepted into the program (fall 2005) from forty to sixty. The funding also allowed for the hiring of additional faculty.

Since 2005, the DON began to increase enrollment to provide a platform for the name change from Division of Nursing (DON) to School of Nursing (SON). The enrollment increased to 200 students per year. The School of Nursing never wavered on NCLEX rates and did not compromise its standards of excellence.

SFASU's Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing sought approval for a change in program location of the BSN to a new off-campus site located at 5707 North Street, Nacogdoches, Texas, 75965. The Texas Board of Nursing was notified and approved the request for a change in program location in February, 2009. The proposed implementation date was scheduled for January, 2010.

All 240 current and incoming SFASU nursing students relocated to the new facility. Students enrolled in the RN to BSN Transition Track continue to take courses online.

The admission requirements for students admitted into the Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing remain the same and are listed in the BSN brochure on the nursing webpage ( The School of Nursing has a full eight-year accreditation from National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) until spring 2013.
A future increase in enrollment will be dependent and driven by an assessment of available resources.