Saint Mary's Mourns Loss of Corliss Watkins

Dear Saint Mary’s Community,

It is with a great deal of sadness that I share the news of the passing of Corliss Watkins, a beloved and highly respected member of the Saint Mary’s College community. For several years, Corliss had courageously struggled with health complications related to cancer. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family.

An unwavering champion for student success, educational access, and our Lasallian principles of inclusive community and respect for all persons, Corliss most recently served as the Director of the Student Engagement and Academic Success Office. She also held the roles of Success Coach, Academic Advising Coordinator, Coordinator of Black Student Achievement, and High Potential Summer Bridge Coordinator. Additionally, Corliss served as a founding member and co-chair of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE).

Acutely aware of the importance of supporting Black students at Saint Mary’s, Corliss was not only an academic mentor for students of color, she was a staunch ally and advocate for their concerns, and served as a longtime advisor to the Black Student Union. And while she had two children of her own, many SMC students saw her as an extended family member, with some even lovingly calling her mom.

Corliss also taught during Jan Term, providing opportunities for students to discover their own voices and become campus change agents. She advocated for and accompanied students on regular trips to the National Conference of Race and Ethnicity (NCORE), where they learned about and presented on peer facilitation and intergroup dialogue to hundreds of education professionals.

Throughout her career at the College, which began in 2007, Corliss would be recognized for her advocacy for students and inclusive excellence, which included receiving the Leadership Involvement and Diversity Advisor of the Year award in 2011 and 2014, as well as the Intercultural Center’s Pamela Y. George Staff Award for exceptional commitment to the Black community in 2010, 2013 and 2016. Corliss was also a Gael, and earned her MA in Counseling in 2014.

We will share details regarding service arrangements to recognize and celebrate Corliss’s life as we receive them. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her children and her husband Tony, who taught for many years at Saint Mary’s. Please keep them in your prayers.


Margaret Kasimatis, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs