Jim Watson (1939-2010)

James G. Watson, Frances W. O 'Hornett Professor of Literature, joined The University of Tulsa faculty in 1969, beginning a distinguished 40-year career as a teacher, scholar and mentor to many.

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Watson Memorial Service


A campus memorial service was held April 5, 2010 for Dr. James Watson.

A video of the service has been made available for those who were unable to attend.

View the Watson memorial service.

He was recognized as one of the world's leading scholars of William Faulkner, whose work he expounded in a series of books, articles and lectures. Most recently, his scholarly interests had turned to the writer and naturalist Peter Matthiessen. Outside the circles of formal scholarship, many in the community knew him as a guest lecturer for the Tulsa City-County Library and other venues, where he helped spread enthusiasm for literature and learning.

Jim's commitment to his students and to TU earned repeated recognition, including the Outstanding University Professor Award (1982), the Certificate of Honor from TU's Multicultural Affairs Committee (1991) and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences (2002). In addition, he was named the 2007 Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge Mentor of the Year and was The University of Tulsa's commencement speaker in December 2008. A respected academic statesman, he served on many administrative and advisory committees at both the university and college levels, including two presidential search committees, the second of which resulted in the hiring of current President Steadman Upham.

Jim was born June 16, 1939, in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Gray Watson and Margaret Meister Watson. He graduated from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and completed undergraduate study at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, before completing an M.A. and Ph.D. in English at the University of Pittsburgh.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Tom, his nephew Ben, and his brother-in-law Tim MacVean.

Jim is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Ann; his two sons and daughters-in-law, Bill and Julia Watson of Tulsa and Richard and Cyndee Watson of Austin, Texas. He is also survived by his sister, Kate MacVean, and sister-in-law and brother-in-law Dotty and Nick Beckwith, all of Pittsburgh; sister-in-law Debra Watson of Charlottesville, Virginia; and grandchildren Natty, Ruthie, Jimmy and Judy, all of Tulsa.

The University of Tulsa is deeply honored that Jim's family has established a fund for the James G. Watson Endowed Professorship of English. This position will support continued academic excellence at The University of Tulsa, both through the resources it will provide and the example it will preserve.