Toni Pitts receives Leadership in Diversity Award

Siv Schwink

Toni Pitts, Coordinator of Recruiting and Special Programs, Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Toni Pitts, Coordinator of Recruiting and Special Programs, Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Toni Pitts, coordinator of recruiting and special programs at Physics Illinois, has received the Leadership in Diversity Award from The Office of Diversity, Equity and Access at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This award recognizes exceptional dedication to and success in promoting diversity and inclusion via research, hiring practices, courses, programs and events.

Pitts started at the University in October 1999 and has been with the Department of Physics for 13 years, where she works directly with prospective, incoming, and current students. Recognizing the great asset a diverse student body is to the department’s culture of creativity and innovation, Pitts has been a champion of outreach and community-building efforts that increase enrollment of students from groups historically underrepresented in physics.

Pitts coordinates the department’s undergraduate recruitment efforts, including student visits, departmental mailings, student call bank, and student/parent visit days. Her efforts have contributed to a 70 percent increase in physics enrollments over the last few years.

She is the primary coordinator of the Saturday Physics for Everyone program, which has given her the opportunity to work directly with about 150 students. She is also responsible for special programs, such as the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics. Pitts also runs the Department of Physics REU program, hosting a dozen students from other institutions at Illinois for a 10-week summer research program.

Pitts also coordinates with other programs, such as the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering and Illini Summer Academies to bring high school students to the physics department to learn more about a future in physics.

Pitts was presented with the award at the 31st Annual Celebration of Diversity on November 11, 2016.

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