NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A groundbreaking ceremony for Stephen F. Austin State University's new $13 million Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26.

The ceremony is being held in conjunction with the university's Board of Regents meeting and will take place at the construction site located at 5707 North St. in Nacogdoches. The public is invited to attend.

In 2007, the Texas legislature passed House Bill 1775, authorizing the construction of the new nursing school on a 17-acre property donated to the university by Lucille and the late Richard DeWitt. The site formerly served as a distribution center for the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants owned by the DeWitts. The original structure was demolished late last year.

"This is a dream come true, and I can hardly wait to see the expansion of the (nursing) program," Lucille DeWitt said. "I believe this facility will provide the environment for educating some of the best nurses in Texas."

The newly expanded DeWitt School of Nursing is expected to help fulfill an intense need in the state of Texas for additional nurses and nurse educators, according to Dr. Glenda Walker, director of the School of Nursing.

"The DeWitt gift is truly a gift from the heart, which will allow the School of Nursing to expand in order to address the nursing shortage in Texas," she said.

The state-of-the-art facility, which will house classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices, is scheduled to be open in time for the spring 2010 semester.