Campus News

Valerie Howard is new dean of School of Nursing

Recognized nationally as an academic innovator and higher education leader, she begins her new role Aug. 1, coming to Carolina during a pivotal time of growth and achievement.

Valerie Howard portrait with text: Valerie Howard, dean, UNC School of Nursing
“I am thrilled to serve as the next dean for the UNC School of Nursing, building upon the strong tradition of excellence and positively influencing the future of nursing education, nursing science and clinical practice nationally and globally,” said Valerie Howard. (Photo courtesy Duke University School of Nursing)

Valerie Howard, vice dean for academic affairs and a clinical professor in the School of Nursing at Duke University, has been named dean of the School of Nursing effective Aug. 1, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Provost and Chief Academic Officer J. Christopher Clemens announced in a campus message May 11.  

“Howard is a nationally recognized academic innovator and an accomplished higher education leader who will bring a wealth of experience to Carolina,” they wrote. 

As vice dean, Howard has been responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of four academic degree programs and 20 specialties and certificate programs, many of which are ranked first or second in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. She has overseen admissions, course quality, program accreditation and support services that serve the school’s 1,150 students. In addition, she has implemented numerous initiatives focused on academic excellence, including supporting innovation and faculty development in teaching, adopting new standards for online education and launching a student success center. 

Howard also leads the North Carolina Future of Nursing Action Coalition, a volunteer organization focused on improving health equity across the state in response to the National Academy of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Recommendations. She has also served as president of the International Nursing Association of Clinical Simulation and Learning and is a fellow in the NLN Academy of Nursing Education, the Wharton-AACN Executive Leadership program and the American Academy of Nursing. 

Prior to her appointment at Duke, Howard was at the Robert Morris University School of Nursing and Health Sciences where she held numerous faculty and administrator positions, rising from an assistant professor in 2004 to dean of the school and university professor of nursing in 2013. Working closely with the president’s office, institutional advancement and others, she helped raise nearly $8 million toward new programs and initiatives, including the construction of Scaife Hall in 2016. 

While at RMU, Howard founded the Regional Research and Innovation in Simulation Education Center (RISE), a center of excellence for simulation training largely based on her own research. Howard helped develop the Elsevier Simulation Learning System, one of the first simulation learning systems, which is now used by 400 schools across the country to support faculty and enhance student learning outcomes. The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation recognized Howard for her work in simulation with its excellence in research award in 2010. She also helped create and disseminate the first set of standards for the use of simulation, which have been adopted by nursing and health care educators across the globe. 

In addition, Howard developed partnerships in Nicaragua, Scotland, South Africa and Australia to provide critical international experiences for faculty and students from 2013-2018 and served as a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong School of Nursing in 2019. She earned a doctorate in higher education administration and a master of science in nursing education at the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor of science in nursing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

Howard joins the School of Nursing during a pivotal time of growth and achievement. During the past five years, the school redesigned its undergraduate and graduate school curriculum and increased undergraduate enrollment by 25%. The school’s undergraduate program ranks fourth in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and seven graduate programs are in the top 10. Next year, construction will begin on a state-of-the-art Nursing Education Building, thanks to generous funding from the N.C. General Assembly and private gifts to the Campaign for Carolina. Howard’s longstanding commitment to nursing excellence, public service and leadership development are perfectly suited to ensure that the School of Nursing continues to thrive into the future. 

“I am thrilled to serve as the next dean for the UNC School of Nursing, building upon the strong tradition of excellence and positively influencing the future of nursing education, nursing science, and clinical practice nationally and globally,” Howard said. “I am excited to partner with the Carolina community to strengthen inclusion initiatives and re-imagine the possibilities that exist in our profession. These experiences will be co-created with the highly regarded team of faculty, staff and students to ensure the mission related to teaching, research, service and practice is advanced with the highest level of quality. This will ultimately lead to improved health outcomes for the people of North Carolina.” 

In the message, the chancellor and provost thanked the search committee and its chair, Angela Kashuba, dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, John and Margaret McNeill Sr. Distinguished Professor and adjunct professor of med-infectious diseases. 

“We also express our appreciation to Peggy Wilmoth, associate dean for academic affairs and professor, for her steady leadership as interim dean,” Guskiewicz and Clemens wrote. “Please join us in congratulating Val and welcoming her to Carolina this summer.”