Ruby L. Wilson

Ruby L. Wilson
Dean of Duke School of Nursing

Ruby L. Wilson, EdD, RN, FAAN, has served in a number of pioneering leadership positions, both locally and internationally. The majority of her career has been associated with the Duke University Medical Center. Ruby served as Dean of the Duke University School of Nursing from 1971 to 1984. She started at the school in nursing in 1955 as a young faculty member and later served as a professor of nursing, assistant professor of medicine, and assistant to the chancellor for health affairs.

During her tenure as Dean of the school of nursing, Ruby was known as an innovator. She encouraged professional development of the faculty and put in place a pioneering undergraduate curriculum. In collaboration with Thelma Ingles, Ruby initiated the first ever master’s degree program in clinical nursing, which became a national model for graduate nursing specialization.

Ruby has carried her service commitment into the local community and far beyond. A long-time member of NCNA, she has also served on the boards of the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program, the American Cancer Society, Triangle Hospice, and the Women’s Forum of North Carolina. She has worked with the Rockefeller Foundation in Thailand to design a research-driven medical center with a new nursing curriculum. She has also been elected to both the prestigious Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Nursing. She also served as a presidential appointee on the National Council of Nurse Training of the United States Public Health Service.

Ruby began her career as a staff nurse, head nurse, and night clinical supervisor at Alleghany General Hospital in Pennsylvania where she received her diploma in nursing. She then went on to receive a BS degree in nursing education from the University of Pittsburgh, an MSN degree from Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing of Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) and a doctor of education degree from Duke University. Post-graduate study was done at both the University of California in San Francisco and the School of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“Ruby’s legacy, which she modeled, is for nurses to be well-informed, assertive and involved. I think she has given a lifetime of service to the citizens of North Carolina and is perfect for the NCNA Hall of Fame award for 2010.”

Source: Essay in the Fall 2010 Tar Heel Nurse when Dr. Wilson was inducted into the NCNA Hall of Fame. Reprinted with premission from the North Carolina Nurses Association.



Compiled by: 
Phoebe Pollitt