Faculty Highlight: Dean for Health Sciences Leigh Angel


BRCC News | Published July 17, 2019

sunrise over the mountains image with words Education Elevated on it.

Portrait of Leigh AngelBlue Ridge Community College welcomes its new Dean of Health Sciences, Leigh Angel, who plans to use her background and experience in health care to further the mission of the College as it takes further steps into the realm of health care. 

Originally from Thomasville, North Carolina, Angel attended Western Carolina University directly out of high school, where she met her future husband, a “good ol’ Haywood County boy,” and graduated with a BSN in 2002. 

After college, she worked for Mission Hospital as a CNA, staff nurse, unit supervisor and nurse manager mostly in progressive care. She later returned to WCU for her master’s degree in nursing leadership and nursing administration and got a job as a director at AdventHealth (formerly Park Ridge) in MedSurg, Telemetry and ICU before returning to Mission Hospital in Accreditation Services in 2013. 

Afterward, she went to teach at her own alma mater, WCU, as RIBN Program Director and Assistant Professor until June 30, 2019 when she came to Blue Ridge. 

“I wound up at Blue Ridge through my experience within the nursing community and the RIBN program,” Angel said. 

The RIBN program stands for Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses, and its purpose is to elevate nursing education that helps communities overall. The program is a collaboration between WCU and various community colleges, including Blue Ridge. 

Through RIBN, students will spend three years at the community college taking general education prerequisite courses while also dual enrolling at WCU taking online liberal studies courses. Within three years, they’ve completed their nursing degree from the community college and will transfer to WCU for one final year of baccalaureate nursing.  

“This gets them a four-year degree at half the price. So we’ve set these students up for success, and some may even return to school for a master’s degree,” Angel said. 

Since starting at Blue Ridge on July 1, Angel says she’s had a smooth transition, and feels her new role is the perfect fit for her that pairs her passion with her schooling.

As the new dean of Health Sciences, Angel, along with the new Coordinator for Allied Health, is planning on growing the programs in a variety of health-related fields, including community needs for mental health. 

“We’ve got a passion for mental health, and a passion for caring for our community of caregivers as well,” Angel said. 

One idea Angel and her team have been discussing is giving students the ability to bundle together courses to make the students more marketable, as well as adding continuing education courses for nursing and even counselors for alcohol and drug addiction. 

A focus on geriatrics is another high point on Angel’s list, and since our region has a large older adult population, caring for them is a high priority. 

She also hopes to be able to better communicate with children with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families. 

“The landscape of health care is changing, because patients are living longer, but they’re living with more chronic illness,” Angel said. “We’ve got to be able to manage that care, so it takes a team of people to manage it. Needs are much more complex, so educating our caregivers is crucial.” 

She encourages anyone interested in caring for others to consider a career in health care, as a caring heart is a terrible thing to waste. 

“If you’ve got a heart to care for a person – the whole person including their family – this is the place for you,” Angel said. 

Angel is currently in UNC-Greenboro’s Ph.D. program, and praised her coworkers at Blue Ridge for their impressive backgrounds and caring personalities. 

“We’ve got such a talented staff here so full of potential. I think the future is bright,” Angel said. 

Those interested in starting a career in Health Science or meeting with Angel can email her at la_angel@blueridge.edu


Registration for Fall Semester is underway through August 8. 

For more information, call Student Services at 828.694.1800 or 883.2520. 

Admissions representatives can also be reached at admissions@blueridge.edu


Written by Colby Denton, Blue Ridge Community College Communications Coordinator
Photo by Rich Keen, Blue Ridge Community College Visual Media Coordinator