Pitts, Wanna D. (1932-2018)

Pitts, Wanna D. (1932-2018)

Date Updated



Biological Sciences

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

University of California at Davis, Ecology, 1976 Ph.D.

San Jose State University, Biology, 1972 MA

San Jose State University, Zoology, 1970 BA

Teaching Experience

San Jose State University, 1970-1992

Various 2-year colleges

Administrative and Professional Experience

Graduate Dean, 1982-1983

Selected Publications

Barbour, Burk, and Pitts. 1979. Terrestrial Plant Ecology. Benjamin-Cummings, Menlo Park, 634 pp. Second edition, 1987, Third edition, 1998.

Pitts, W. D., & M. G. Barbour. 1979. "The Microdistribution and Feeding Preferences of Peromyscus Maniculatus in the strand of Point Reyes National Seashore, California. Am Mid Nat, 101:38‑48.

Pitts, W. D., & M. J. Kutilek. 1992. A Laboratory Manual for General Ecology. Kinkos Copies.

Pitts, W. D., C. L. Schmidt, & D. Bruck. 1992. Plant Biology: A Tutorial for General Botany. Kinkos Copies.

Pitts, W. D. 1977. The Microdistribution and Feeding Preference of Peromyscus Maniculatus in the Strand at Point R eyes National Seashore, California. Ecological Research Society Symposium, CSU Sacramento, 16, 17 April 1977.

Pitts. 1976. Plant/Animal Interaction in the Beach and Dunes of Point Reyes.

Personal Commentary

My early retirement from SJSU was just another instance in my life of non‑traditional timing. I began college the same year our son began SJSU‑‑ 1966. Because I was an "older student" I was in a hurry, and finished my BA in just four years, my MA in 18 months, took two years off and then obtained my doctorate in just two more years. My husband did the field research with me, and supported my teaching with professional quality color transparencies. Without the loving support of my family, including our daughter, I could have never achieved my dream of being a professor of biology. I loved teaching, and I loved being at SJSU.

During my tenure in the biology department, I was awarded several honors, among them the following: Sabbatical Leave for Spring 1991: Recovery from logging, SW Oregon; Student Affirmative Action Certificate of Commendation May 1988; Dean's Award for Teaching January 1986; Sabbatical Leave: Tissue culture techniques, Penn State, Fall 1983; Participant in the Affirmative Action Faculty Development Program for 1979‑80; Awarded a Mini‑Grant from the Chancellor's Office to fund a study of methods of evaluation in Botany 1, General Botany, in 1976‑77; Awarded an Alumni Association Innovative Teaching Award to fund a study of methods of evaluation in General Botany, in 1976‑77.

Possibly the most memorable award came from my students, who planted a tree on campus in my honor upon my retirement, and hosted a wonderful retirement party for me and my colleague, Charles Bell.

In retirement, we have chosen to be more closely involved with our family and with our community, and to travel when and where we can. We have been to Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), to England and Ireland, and to China. We make our annual trek to Death Valley and are always glad we did so.

Our family is growing up, with grandchildren ranging from 17, 15, 14, 12, to the youngest, now nearly 7. Our daughter is the consummate homemaker and community activist; our son is an environmentalist and a computer whiz. As a family, we have nurtured and cultured and harvested at Pitts Family Vineyard in Santa Rosa for over 18 years. My husband developed a unique trellising system there that is envied and copied by viticulturists from as far away as Australia. In 1991, we built a home in Ashland, OR, that is a haven for us all. At nearly 4,000 feet elevation, our place‑‑Treasure Mountain‑‑gets some snow, more rain than the valley receives, and less summer heat and smog. My husband and I graduated from high school in Ashland, and both our children were born in the old Ashland Community Hospital, so it is a home to us.

If we are to be productive and successful, we all need good models. I am grateful for the models that I have had, in teaching and in just living, that have helped me along the way. To each one, thank you. You know who you are.

Date Completed: 10/96, updated 21 May 2011

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Pitts, Wanna D. (1932-2018)