University official dies of cancer

Doctors had first diagnosed Tony Diggs with cancer six years ago, but was cancer-free until the disease resurfaced.

Tony Diggs, director of the Student Activities Office, died May 24 after battling cancer for years. He was 38.

Diggs was the kind of person who “lit up a room when he walked in,” said Maggie Towle, director of the Twin Cities Student Unions activities office.

“He always (had) a big, beautiful smile on his face,” she said.

Diggs first was diagnosed with cancer about six years ago, Towle said. Then he was deemed cancer free for a few years, but it recurred in the past two years.

He left the activities office in January to get hospice care at home, she said.

His career at the University began in 1989 when he worked in the Multicultural and Academic Affairs office. He later went on to become director of the African American Learning Resource Center, Towle said.

She said she first met Diggs when he was working in the Multicultural and Academic Affairs Office and knew he would be great for the Student Activities Office.

“I just knew that he had what it took,” said Towle, who later hired Diggs.

During his time as director of the activities office, Diggs was very involved, she said.

One testament to this is the increase in registered student groups since he started. When he took over in 2000, 250 groups were registered. Now there are about 625.

David Hill, The Whole venue manager, said Diggs always kept students in mind when making decisions.

In addition to his friendly personality and warm smile, Diggs also was very dedicated to his work.

“He could always cut through all the talk and get to what was really important,” Hill said. “I miss that about him.”

Megan Sweet, assistant director of Student Activities, described Diggs as an “inspirational, motivated visionary and just a real pleasure.”

She said so much has changed at the Student Activities Office and that they had grown a lot since Diggs became director. “This is a great loss to the University community,” Sweet said.

Diggs also was selected for the President’s Emerging Leaders Program for 2001-2002 and was awarded the Gordon L. Starr Award for being committed to the students in 2001.

Diggs received his Bachelor of Science degree in therapeutic recreation from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and his Master of Education in instructional systems and technology from the University. Diggs is survived by his wife, Nichol, and their three children.