Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing

Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership

Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing Antonia M. Villarruel leads a world-renowned faculty to advance science, demonstrate practice excellence, and prepare leaders in the discipline of nursing—all through her extraordinary lens as a first-generation college graduate and daughter of an immigrant, an innovative nurse-researcher, the first—and to date only—Latina nurse inducted as a National Academy of Medicine member, and one of the few Latina nursing deans in the United States, not to mention the only Latina nursing dean at an Ivy League school.

Dr. Villarruel is the sixth dean of Penn Nursing. She also bears the distinction of being just the second Penn Nursing alumna to hold the deanship. During her tenure as Dean—which began in 2014—QS World University has ranked Penn Nursing as No. 1 in the world every year since 2016, when rankings began; U.S. News & World Report has ranked the School’s undergraduate program as No. 1 in the country since they began ranking BSN programs in 2022, and the School’s graduate programs are also ranked among the best. Additionally, among schools of nursing, Penn Nursing has consistently been one of the top recipients of research funding from the National Institutes of Health—usually in the top three, if not number one.

Under Dr. Villarruel’s leadership, Penn Nursing also received the single largest charitable gift ever made to a U.S. school of nursing: a $125 million investment to launch a unique, tuition-free program aimed at preparing and increasing the number of nurse practitioners to work in underserved areas, among a range of generous donations made over the last decade. This support makes a Penn Nursing education accessible no matter a student’s financial situation and provides students with cutting edge opportunities and dynamic community engagement events and programs—while addressing ways to aggressively promote health equity.

But Dr. Villarruel’s accomplishments go far beyond upholding Penn Nursing’s long and storied history as a leader in nursing education and research. She is the first Penn Nursing dean to serve with prior and current National Institutes of Health research funding of her own, sought after as a national and international speaker, social justice advocate, and health educator and expert.

At Penn Nursing, students have the intellectual capacity to undergo the rigors of a nursing science curriculum while surrounded by world-class faculty who are invested in their success, always providing an array of possibilities to discover and develop their passions!


PhD – Wayne State University, Detroit, MI – 1993
MSN – University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA – 1982
BSN – Nazareth College, Kalamazoo, MI – 1978

Selected Career Highlights

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • Yes

Selected Publications

  • Villarruel, A. M. (2022). The end? Or a new beginning? Perspectives on lessons learned from the Future of Nursing Scholars Program and the preparation of PhD nurse scholars. Nursing Outlook, 71(1).

  • Villarruel, A. M., & Richmond, T. S. (2022). Reflections on the future of nursing research. Nursing Outlook, 70, 562-563.

  • Leary, M., Villarruel, A. M., & Richmond, T. S. (2022). Creating an innovation infrastructure in academic nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing: official journal of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 38, 83–88.

  • Flores, D. D., Hennessy, K., Rosario, A., Chung, J., Wood, S., Kershaw, T., Villarruel, A., Bauermeister, J. (2021). Parents ASSIST: Acceptability and Feasibility of a Video-Based Educational Series for Sexuality-Inclusive Communication between Parents and Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Sons. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(1), 379.

  • *Villarruel, A. M., & Fairman, J. A. (2021). An eye toward a more inclusive future. Nursing outlook, 69(4), 510–512.

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