Dr. Maura Toro-Morn has been named the recipient of the 2020 David A. Strand Diversity Achievement Award. She was honored at the Faculty/Staff Appreciation Luncheon during the Founding Celebration on February 19.
Established by Illinois State President Emeritus David Strand in 1994, the award recognizes a current Illinois State University faculty or staff member who is instrumental in extraordinary curricular or program activities that assist the University in responding to its commitment to diversity.
Since her arrival on campus in the 1990s, Toro-Morn has worked to help define Illinois State University’s core value of diversity. As a scholar, she has devoted a significant part of her life to studying one of the most pressing issues of our time─global migrations and inequality. Her newest book, Puerto Ricans in Illinois (Southern Illinois Press), set to come out next year, examines the struggles and contributions of Puerto Ricans who, like her, now call Illinois home. She has helped design classes that deepen students’ knowledge of Latinx immigration and incorporation.
Her work as director of the Latin American and Latina/o Studies program has earned her the admiration and respect of her colleagues and students. She has worked to secure resources, funds, space, and has placed the program as a point of pride in the institution. The lectures and events which she helps coordinate as part of the annual Latinx Heritage Month offer the community another important space to learn about the Latinx experiences in the Americas.
Toro-Morn is one of the founding members of CAUSA, Illinois State’s Committee Assisting Undocumented Student Achievement. This organization advocates to secure resources and to help community members become more aware of the problems and issues faced by undocumented and dacamented students and their families. She was also instrumental in launching the Latino Oral History Project in the McLean County Museum of History, a project that sets to record the culture and experience of Latinos who live and work in McLean County.
Toro-Morn received a bachelor’s degree from Interamerican University in San German, Puerto Rico; a master’s degree from Illinois State University; and Ph.D. from Loyola University of Chicago.