Dr. Jennifer Pitonyak Named Director of School of Occupational Therapy

Dr. Jennifer Pitonyak joins Pacific University as the new director of the School of Occupational Therapy, effective March 7, 2022, following a nationwide search.

Pitonyak brings more than 24 years of professional experience in higher education and as an occupational therapy provider. She serves on the leadership team for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Mentorship Program and has numerous presentations and peer-reviewed publications on topics related to family mental health and SoTL. 

Pitonyak earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Allegheny College, a master of science in occupational therapy from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and a PhD in health policy from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She previously served as vice chair in the Department of Occupational Therapy at University of the Sciences, where one of the first entry-level occupational therapy clinical doctorate programs nationwide was accredited. Most recently, she held the position of associate professor and associate director in the School of Occupational Therapy at University of Puget Sound. While at Puget Sound, Pitonyak was instrumental in development of a new entry-level OTD program and revision of the MSOT program curriculum. 

Pitonyak has practiced as an occupational therapist in early intervention, the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric rehabilitation, and other community settings, with an emphasis on infant and family mental health. She holds specialty certification in feeding, eating, and swallowing (SCFES) from AOTA and is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI). She previously worked in multidisciplinary feeding programs at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and was a per diem infant team therapist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. 

“Dr. Pitonyak participated in a lengthy search process, and I was impressed not only with her clinical experience, but also with her focus on strategically integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into policies, procedures, and curricula across OT programming,” said Dr. Mary Von, vice provost and executive dean of the Pacific University College of Health Professions. “I look forward to a bright future for the School of Occupational Therapy under her leadership.”

“The School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University has always stood out to me as an innovative program with a curriculum that prepares its graduates to advocate for the occupational needs of diverse populations in the context of an ever-changing society,” Pitonyak said. “I am excited to collaborate with the faculty of the School of Occupational Therapy to vision the next phase in the life of the program, and particularly for the opportunity to further innovate occupational therapy education through the intentional implementation of an inclusive curriculum.”

The Pacific University School of Occupational Therapy is one of eight schools in the university’s College of Health Professions, located at its Hillsboro Campus. The school offers a three-year doctorate in occupational therapy.

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022