Pacific Northwest University President Keith Watson, DO, Announces Retirement Plans

(Yakima, WA) Pacific Northwest University’s Board of Trustees has announced the upcoming retirement of Dr. D. Keith Watson, after more than five years of service as the school’s president.  Dr. Watson informed the Board of his decision to retire during the executive committee session of the PNWU Board meeting, held on October 28, 2017.  Watson, DO, will continue in his role as president of the health sciences university through the end of the academic year. 

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the PNWU students and the University,” said Watson.  “Our campus has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past 5 ½ years. I am proud to state that 82% of our practicing physician alums are serving in the Pacific Northwest.  We are fulfilling our mission!”

The PNWU Board of Trustees will meet again soon to continue discussions surrounding the leadership transition plan.  The board will solicit input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members during the planning stages of a national search.


“I am happy for Dr. Watson and wish him well in his travels and new adventures, wherever they may take him,” said Dr. Heather Phipps, Chair of the PNWU Board of Trustees. “He has given so much time to creating the best possible educational experience for our students that we can’t do anything but thank him for his tireless devotion and wish him the best in the next chapter of his life.” 

Dr. Watson will continue in his leadership role through the end of this academic year, officially stepping down on June 30, 2018.  He remains focused on moving several initiatives forward over the next eight months.

Watson arrived on campus as president on July 1, 2012, and will complete six years of service as the leader before retirement.  He came to Yakima earlier to participate in the school’s first graduation ceremony, and has presided over all six of the University’s commencement programs. Watson first came to campus as a consultant and later became the University’s fifth president.

“It is hard to describe how valuable Dr. Watson has been to us during his tenure,” said Phipps.  “We are in a much better place today, thanks to his leadership.  He has been instrumental in our quest for accreditation, our path to financial stability, the doubling of our class size, the managed growth of key faculty and staff, and so much more.  My fellow trustees and the entire PNWU family are proud of what he has accomplished and, when the time comes, we will miss him.” 

“It has been an honor and pleasure to serve with a man as focused and driven to create a brighter future for our students and our University,” said Chief Operating Officer Frank Alvarez. “It is great to see a leader who makes decisions based on what is best for the students.”

Trained in surgical oncology, Dr. Watson’s career includes service as a Professor of Surgery and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as over 30 years of experience in medical education and policy. He has served as part of the American Osteopathic Association’s Osteopathic College Accreditation evaluation team for 19 years, and continues to advise national policy makers on legislative bills that affect medical students and practicing physicians through his participation on the US Dept. of Health and Human Services Council on Graduate Medical Education. 

“I have reached a place in my life where I choose to devote more quality time to my family,” Watson explained. “That is what I am looking forward to doing.”

For more information contact:

Paul Bubluski at 509.249.7771 or ude.uwnp@iksulbubp

Dean O’Driscoll at 509.249.7768 or ude.uwnp@llocsirdod

Cassidy Brown at 509.249.7773 or ude.uwnp@nworbc