Radford University creates new College of Nursing, setting a statewide precedent

Radford University College of Nursing

Radford University’s newest college is one that’s been deeply rooted in campus academics for 50 years.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) recently authorized the new College of Nursing, a name change also approved by the Radford University Board of Visitors. This is the only public institution in Virginia to have a separate College of Nursing.

The College of Nursing is led by Interim Dean Wendy Downey, D.N.P., and has learning locations in Radford and Roanoke, Virginia.

“This is a monumental achievement for the College of Nursing in a 50-year history where we have been part of a college, but never as one dedicated solely to nursing,” Downey said. “Numerous alumni and emeritus faculty have told me, ‘This has been a long time coming.’”

Becoming a separate college, Radford University is even more so on a national stage by placing the profession of nursing and nursing education at the level of prestige it deserves and giving it far-reaching significance.

“We are setting a new precedent for nursing both in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as the first public institution of higher ed in Virginia to have a College of Nursing, and also across the U.S.,” Downey said.

The creation of this separate college emphasizes the importance of nursing and the need for well-educated, practice-ready nurses in the world. It also continues Radford University’s devotion to consistent evolution of educational programs in response to the healthcare needs, delivery mechanisms, and technology advancements in the region, Commonwealth, nation, and world. 

A College of Nursing student interacts with a patient as a faculty member observes.

“The elevation of Radford University’s School of Nursing to the College of Nursing is a milestone worthy of celebration. We are well-known for our contributions to the nursing profession: in 2022-23, Radford conferred 258 nursing degrees, the second-highest total among Virginia public institutions. In addition, our nursing programs routinely rank as the very best in the commonwealth. At Radford, we have embraced the responsibility to prepare a healthcare workforce that will improve outcomes for patients across our region and the entire commonwealth. The enhanced commitment of resources and new model of governance that the College of Nursing benefits from will further advance our university and the communities that Radford-educated nurses serve,” said Radford University’s President Bret Danilowicz.

Radford University’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bethany Usher, also celebrated the new name and opportunities it provides nursing students.

"Creating a College of Nursing as a free-standing unit showcases our high-quality nurse education programs, and the value we place on educating nurses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The College will be able to grow and attract faculty who want to be at the nexus of scholar, educator, and practitioner. In the College of Nursing, students will get focused teaching and advising that help them become well-educated and sought-after professionals,” Provost Bethany Usher said.

The College of Nursing also includes two of the most advanced level Clinical Simulation Centers in Virginia, one on campus in Radford and one at the Roanoke Higher Education Center. Both were developed, through public and private funds, to address the nursing shortage and explore alternatives for clinical education for students.

The Radford nursing program’s charter class of 11 students graduated in 1973. Since then, nursing has expanded its academic offerings to include degrees in Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate. The nursing program has received countless accolades, including Top Nursing Program in Virginia by allnurses.com and registerednursing.org.

Feb 2, 2024
Justin Ward