Beth Cunningham 


AAPT Announces Appointment of Dr. Beth Cunningham as Next Executive Officer


19 JULY 2010—The AAPT Executive Board announced that Dr. Beth Cunningham will become the next Executive Officer of AAPT. She will assume her duties in that office on January1, 2011 but will start her work in the AAPT office in College Park on October 1, 2010, overlapping for three months with Dr. Warren Hein, who is retiring as AAPT's Executive Officer on December 31, 2010. This overlap will facilitate a period of orientation to AAPT and give Dr. Cunningham the opportunity to become further acquainted with AAPT's members, staff, and activities before she officially assumes the position of Executive Officer.

Dr. Cunningham's career has provided her with admirable preparation to serve as AAPT's next Executive Officer. She pursued her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, all with majors in physics, at Kent State University. Her Ph.D. thesis focused on biological liquid crystals. After a two-year post-doctoral appointment at the Hormel Institute of the University of Minnesota, she taught physics for one year at Gettysburg College before moving to Bucknell University. There she taught physics for seventeen years, advanced through the academic ranks to full professor and, during the last six of those years, served as Associate Dean of the Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2006, she assumed her present position as Provost, Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Physics at Illinois Wesleyan University.

A skilled teacher and researcher, Dr. Cunningham has taught both introductory and advanced lecture and laboratory courses in physics, the latter particularly in condensed matter, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics. She has taught outreach courses for non-science majors and one-week continuing education courses for middle school and high school teachers. While at Bucknell, she played a major role in stimulating the growth of opportunities for physics majors to engage in undergraduate research and was herself the faculty mentor for more than 20 undergraduate research students.

To quote from Dr. Cunningham's letter of application, "All of [my] positions have reinforced my desire to be instrumental in leading and providing strategic direction in an organization devoted to improving student learning and developing physics educators. I also believe now is the perfect time for me to use my experiences to provide AAPT with leadership as it continues to focus on improving physics education. I welcome the opportunity to be in a position that goes back to my roots as a scientist and allows me to be more connected with fellow physicists."

Dr. Cunningham's experiences as a teacher, scholar, and administrator have acquainted her not only with the challenges of the classroom but also with the challenges of administering large organizations and managing budgets in a variety of institutional contexts and economic climates. She is well acquainted with and well known within the professional scientific community and with organizations like the American Physical Society (APS), Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), and the Council on Undergraduate Research that serve that community. She has worked collaboratively on a wide variety of projects and programs. She has been uncommonly successful in these varied endeavors. She is enthusiastic and energetic, and she communicates a passion for physics, for AAPT, and for working with AAPT for the advancement of excellence in physics education.

The full announcement is available at

About AAPT
AAPT is an international organization for physics educators, physicists, and industrial scientists--with more than 10,000 members worldwide. Dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching, AAPT provides awards, publications, and programs that encourage teaching practical application of physics principles, support continuing professional development, and reward excellence in physics education. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.

For more information contact Marilyn Gardner, Director of Communications,, (301) 209-3306, (301) 209-0845 (Fax),