Dr. Marcellene Watson-Derbigny serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Retention and Academic Success. Providing broad oversight to over 25 plus educational equity programs and components, she is well versed in educational equity practice, program development, and in the strategic planning of retention initiatives within complex higher education structures, overseeing a vast realm of programs and initiatives that leverage the success of students. She is nationally known for her work in learning community planning and design for freshmen and transfer student populations having led such efforts for over 15 years and possesses over 25 years of educational experience. She currently chairs the Campus Educational Equity Committee, which focuses on services to underrepresented students, as well as periodically reviews educational equity programs and efforts across the campus that enhance the undergraduate experience. In addition to her extensive educational equity involvements, Dr. Watson-Derbigny has also chaired the Student Success and Completion Initiative for the campus and chaired the Task Force on African American Student Success. Recent achievements as a part of her portfolio include extensive event planning experience, work on several large scale grants securing millions of dollars for the university to assist and support underserved students, and providing presentations and workshops city and nation- wide on issues related to educational equity.
As a result of her on and off campus collaborations, Dr. Watson-Derbigny is sought after as a collaborator on a variety of student success projects, educational equity initiatives, and community efforts. In the past, she was also named Woman of Influence for two years in a row and is highly respected in the community for collaborative projects advancing the degree attainment goals of underserved student populations. Dr. Watson-Derbigny holds all of the following degrees with honors: a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Research Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Psychology with a minor in Educational Administration from the University of the Pacific. As a leader and visionary, Dr. Watson-Derbigny has been a forerunner in creating new initiatives to advance the University’s goals including the founding of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, launching the first tutoring Center for the campus, and creating its first transfer learning communities and transfer bridge programs. She is also actively involved in the community having established partnerships with local community agencies and the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce to enhance the vibrancy of efforts within the African American community. As a part of the Sacramento Black Chamber, she is currently Vice Chair of the Foundation Board and in the fall of 2019 received the Community Champion Award as a part of her work with the Chamber. In addition, in the spring of 2019 she served on the “Team Up for Change” planning committee in partnership with the Sacramento Kings, which provided a daylong summit addressing issues of social justice in the community. Dr. Watson-Derbigny recently was recognized through her receipt of the Dream All Star Award from the Sacramento Kings for initiatives and efforts to serve the Black community. This recognition was accorded to Dr. Watson-Derbigny during the NBA Restart of 2020.
With a passion to close the gap and help the community, she also serves as Director of the DEGREES Project, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, and the Educational Opportunity Program and is actively helping the campus to eliminate the degree attainment gap by further leading the way to promote initiatives that foster the success of all students. Dr. Watson-Derbigny is committed to the community having been born and raised in Sacramento. She has worked on extenstive partnerships to foster the educational and economic growth of communities of color having hosted large scale events on Sacramento State’s campus through her leadership of the MLK 50th Anniversary celebration drawing a crowd of 4,000 people, annual Student Academic Success Days, work with the Roberts Family Development Center, and recently assisted with the Black Expo and the online Juneteenth Festival in partnership with key community stakeholders. She has also worked in a lead role to assist with the program development of the Young Leadership Collaborative for the Sacramento Black Chamber given her passion for youth, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Watson-Derbigny is committed to the community and underserved populations as a whole and makes it her top priority to serve and lead in ways that will bring about change and impact at the community, state, and national levels. With broad oversight of some 170 employees and numerous support programs, Dr. Watson-Derbigny is working arduously to make change in underserved and underrepresented communities to intervene with and elevate lives one student and one program at a time to instill success.