Watts College of Nursing inaugurates its first president
DURHAM – Watts School of Nursing, the oldest nursing program in North Carolina, officially became a college Monday as it inaugurated its first president.
Watts, which is affiliated with Duke University Health System, is now known as the Watts College of Nursing. The college is currently recruiting students for its new Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program that begins in 2020. Peggy Walters, Ed.D., MSN, who joined the school’s faculty in 1980 and served as its director of nursing education since 1994, was inaugurated as Watts College of Nursing’s first president.
About 200 Watts faculty members and staff, students, alumni, and guests applauded as Mary Ann Fuchs, DNP, vice president of patient care and system chief nurse executive for Duke University Health System, placed a medallion necklace of the college’s new seal around Walters’ neck.
“Thank you for being here today to witness and celebrate a moment in history and a new beginning,” Walters said. “The healthcare needs of the people of Durham continue to grow. …It is an honor to do this work and to see that future nurses from Watts will be prepared clinically, intellectually and with the credential that reflects the high standard of our profession.”
The site of the inauguration ceremony – the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics along Club Boulevard – used to be Durham’s historic Watts Hospital, which housed the Watts School of Nursing from 1909 to 1981. During Watts’ 124 years, Watts graduates have gone on to open schools of nursing, serve in leadership roles at local to international levels, serve with distinction in the military, and work in local hospitals.
“Many of Watts’ graduates have remained here in Durham, serving this community with devotion and excellence since the graduation of its first nursing professionals way back in 1897,” said Durham Mayor Steve Schewel. “This is a remarkable legacy and legacy of service to our community.”
During the ceremony, attendees also heard remarks from American Nurses Association President Ernest Grant, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer Philip Harewood, MBA, of Lincoln Community Health Center, and Duke University Health System Executive Vice President William J. Fulkerson Jr., MD, among others.
Watts will graduate its last class of diploma program students in December of 2021.