Yolanda Neal officially appointed second president of Watts College of Nursing
Friday, December 17, 2021

Longtime nurse and nurse educator Yolanda Neal was officially appointed the second president of Watts College of Nursing during a December 17 Inauguration Ceremony at The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (former home of Watts Hospital/School of Nursing).  Dr. Neal, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, had been part of the staff and faculty at Watts School of Nursing, the oldest nursing program in North Carolina, since 2014. She served as Watts' Associate Chief Executive for Nursing Education before her appointment as interim president in June 2021.

Neal helped transition Watts School of Nursing into the Watts College of Nursing, when the school's diploma program was phased into a college that offers the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. December 17 not only marked the inauguration of the college's second president – Two graduation ceremonies were held that same day, for students in the final nursing diploma program cohort as well as for the first BSN graduating class.

Article content by April Dudash, DRH Corporate Communications; Photos by Les Todd

Watts School of Nursing welcomes new name, program
September 2019

Durham’s Watts School of Nursing, which is affiliated with Duke University Health System, is announcing a new name and nursing education program.

The school received approval in January by The University of North Carolina System Board of Governors to operate as a college and to begin offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program in January of 2020. The school also received approval this summer from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). 

Even with its new name and program, Watts College of Nursing will continue to draw upon its nearly 125 years of history in Durham, said Peggy Walters, Ed.D., MSN, director of nursing education at Watts School of Nursing. Watts is the oldest nursing program in North Carolina and the only remaining nursing diploma program in the state.

“As we enter our next chapter as the Watts College of Nursing, we are committed to embodying our storied history in Durham, the passion of our talented students and alumni, and our reputation for excellence in nursing education,” Walters said. “We look forward to educating future nurses with the BSN degree.”

Walters was installed as the college’s president in September 2019. Work is currently underway to transition the college’s current diploma program to the BSN program, to include changes to the college’s admissions policies and curriculum. The college is also currently recruiting its first cohort of 35 students to start the BSN program in 2020. 

Watts’ diploma program is no longer accepting applications and will graduate its last class in December of 2021. 

Every year, on average, 80 to 90 percent of Watts graduates start their nursing career within Duke University Health System (DUHS). To continue to meet industry and marketplace expectations, Duke Nursing’s “BSN 2020 Initiative” sets a goal for 80 percent of DUHS nurses to attain at least a BSN degree by 2020. This initiative is aligned with recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in their 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”

Newly hired nursing candidates at Duke University Health System are required to attain a BSN degree within five years of their employment start date.  

Duke University School of Nursing in Durham also prepares future nurses with an accelerated BSN program. Marion E. Broome, Ph.D., RN, dean and Ruby Wilson Professor of Nursing for the Duke University School of Nursing, said Watts is helping to contribute more nurses to the field who can meet growing needs in patient care. 

“The Watts School of Nursing is working to meet the growing need in ambulatory and critical care settings for more BSN-educated nurses,” Broome said. “We wish them well as they create new professional pathways for students into the nursing profession.”

Story by April Dudash, DRH Corporate Communications

Video: Watts College of Nursing Inauguration Ceremony

University of Mount Olive RN to BSN Program 

Through an articulation agreement with the University of Mount Olive (UMO), all Watts/UMO graduates have a direct acceptance into the University of Mount Olive RN to BSN Program with proof of RN licensure.

Watts graduates who completed the program prior to the articulation agreement are also accepted with proof of RN licensure to the University of Mount Olive RN to BSN Program. Academic credit for those having graduated before the articulation agreement will be evaluated on an individual basis.

See the University of Mount Olive RN to BSN Program for more information.