College of the Liberal Arts mourns passing of Mary Miles

January 25, 2019

Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts are mourning the loss of Mary Miles, associate teaching professor of English and history, who died on Sunday, Jan. 6. Mary was 47 years old.

Mary was born in State College on June 3, 1971 to James Alan and Jean Antoinette (“Toni") Miles.  She received her baccalaureate and master’s degrees in history from Penn State and her Ph.D. in history from Cornell University.

Mary was respected and well-liked as a teacher, and as a member of the Faculty Senate, she was a tireless advocate for teaching faculty at Penn State. She received several awards for her teaching acumen, including the Russell Award for Distinguished Teaching from Cornell University, the Nancy Lowe Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Penn State Department of English, the Penn State National Society of Leadership and Success’ Excellence in Teaching Award, and induction into the Penn State chapters of the Golden Key and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. In 2008, Mary was one of eight Penn State faculty members selected by students to serve on that year's Homecoming Faculty Court.

Mary was also passionate about helping animals and volunteered much of her time outside the classroom to various organizations dedicated to protecting the well-being of domestic and wild animals around the world.

Mary Miles

Mary Miles, associate teaching professor of English and history

IMAGE: Photo provided

“We are stunned and deeply saddened by Mary’s sudden passing. She was an inspired and committed teacher who touched the lives of countless students,” said Mark Morrisson, professor and head of the Penn State Department of English. “While I had the honor of observing her in the classroom, many of my colleagues who never had that opportunity will remember Mary for the key role she played in improving the career prospects of Penn State teaching faculty by helping the Faculty Senate create the new promotion procedures and professorial ranks."

“She was a strong voice for a humane and supportive environment for all instructors, and our department is better for her efforts.  We’ll all miss her kindness, her generosity, and her spark.”

A celebration of Mary’s life will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28 in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in Mary’s memory be made to The Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y., or to the Mary Miles Fund for Teaching Faculty in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.  Contributions to the Mary Miles Fund for Teaching Faculty can be made online at or mailed to the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, 13 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802. Mailed checks should be made out to Penn State with “in memory of Mary Miles” written in the memo line.


Last Updated October 17, 2019