Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame
Roberta Watts discovered her passion for helping others early in life when at age five she helped her mother with a dental emergency. Her belief that service to others was her divine destiny stayed with her through her time as a staff nurse, educator, leader, public servant, and entrepreneur. The first African American to serve as nursing dean at a majority public university in the State of Alabama, Dr. Watts served as Dean of Jacksonville State University’s Lurleen B. Wallace College of Nursing for over 20 years. Nationally known for her work in the evaluation and advancement of nursing education programs, Dr. Watts served two terms on the Board of Review of the National League for Nursing. Gubernatorial appointments have included Chair, Alabama Foster Care Advisory Committee; Vice Chair, Alabama State Board of Human Resources; and most recently, Commissioner, Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Dr. Watts had a vision resulting in implementation of the first nursing clinic in an Alabama collegiate school of nursing and established community health centers focused on eliminating health disparities in North Alabama. The Roberta O. Watts Medical Center in Gadsden, Alabama was named in her honor in recognition of her commitment to improving the quality of life for the residents of her community. Her service on the Gadsden City Board of Education stimulated support for improving inner city schools. During her tenure as President of the Alabama League for Nursing, Dr. Watts established the Lamp Lighter Award to recognize significant professional contributions by Alabama nurses. Dr. Watts continues to serve her community through her business, Enrestoration, Inc., a community based program offering support to individuals with intellectual disabilities, as President and CEO of the Bethesda Life Center, and as Chancellor and Founder of the Excel Institute for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. Roberta Watts continues her journey, believing there is more that can be done and she is called to do it.