Named in honor of Dr. D. Keith Watson, President Emeritus, and Dr. Maureen Watson, Watson Hall honors a lifelong commitment to osteopathic medicine and the health of rural communities. The Watson’s leadership and passion for the mission of PNWU has been pivotal in positioning the university as a prominent leader in the ever-evolving future of health care.
Dr. Keith Watson’s lifetime commitment to the health and well-being of rural communities seems almost fated. In fact, Dr. Watson would not be here were it not for a lone practitioner in rural Texas.
Today, McLean, Texas appears frozen in time. Old gas pumps — similar to those that Dr. Watson’s father once operated — sit abandoned beside obsolete stations. While Route 66 still cuts through the heart of town, it is not “The Mother Road” it once was, when it served as the Watson family’s only route to a doctor. Determined to find an explanation for her inability to conceive, Mrs. Watson traveled 30-miles to the only doctor in the region.
An osteopathic doctor, Dr. John Whitt claimed to have landed in rural Groom, Texas when his car broke down. He set up an office in the U.S. 66 Hotel and, after witnessing the community’s pressing need for care, converted it into a 16-bed hospital. It was there that Dr. Whitt diagnosed Mrs. Watson’s condition. Soon after, D. Keith Watson was born.
As a child, Dr. Watson repeatedly witnessed the monumental impact that one doctor could have on the community. His life, after all, would not have existed without one. Inspired, he committed his life to improving the health and well-being of people like his mother.
He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Texas COM in 1975, completed a General Surgery Residency in 1980, and a Surgical Oncology Fellowship in 1982.
As a surgical oncologist, Dr. Watson observed the importance of general surgery in medically-underserved areas, recognizing the significant role that a quality medical education played in bridging the inequalities that existed. His knack for critical decision making not only saved lives, but served as the foundation for a remarkable list of educational policies that have revolutionized healthcare across rural America.
Dr. Watson has served as a faculty member on multiple health science campuses, revitalized clinical training nationwide, created the second Osteopathic Postgraduate Training Institute ever accredited (which allowed rural communities to participate in medical student training), chaired the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery, been appointed Chairman of the first Medical Education Summit, been named the American Osteopathic Foundations’ “Educator of the Year,” received the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons “Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon” award, and more. With every new opportunity and achievement he has displayed his unwavering compassion for, and dedication to, rural communities.In 2005, Dr. Watson signed on as a consultant to a budding health sciences university, which aimed to improve healthcare quality and availability for rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 2012, he was selected as president of Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU), bringing a lifetime of wisdom to Washington. To the benefit of the Yakima Valley, Dr. Maureen (Clothier) Watson moved to Yakima with her husband, adding another valued physician to the area. A graduate of Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Watson practiced as an internal medicine physician specializing in geriatrics, making a significant impact on the medical community during her time here in Yakima. Her 35 years of practice experience proved invaluable in bringing osteopathic care and guidance to the community.
As the president of PNWU, Dr. Keith Watson invigorated the Pacific Northwest with an enduring devotion to the health and well-being of underserved communities. His visionary leadership in creating a six-year strategic master-plan was vital in helping to double PNWU’s class size, expand the campus from two buildings to five, achieve financial viability and attain NWCCU accreditation in a notably accelerated timeframe.
Drs. D. Keith and Maureen Watson have dedicated their lives to improving the health and well-being of rural communities, revolutionizing rural health care across the country. Their steadfast commitment to the mission of PNWU inspires a new generation of healthcare professionals, driven to carry their lifelong commitment on in perpetuity.