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Michigan Professor of the Year from Western Michigan University | Arts & Culture

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Michigan Professor of the Year from Western Michigan University
Michigan Professor of the Year from Western Michigan University

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (Western Michigan University)--Western Michigan University's Dr. Stephen M. Wolfinbarger, professor of music, has been named the 2013 Michigan Professor of the Year.

The announcement was made Nov. 14 in Washington, D.C., by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advamcement and Support of Education--CASE--as part of the annual U.S. Professor of the Year Program. The Awards Program, created in 1981, is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

"This is a well-deserved award for Dr. Wolfinbarger," says WMU President John M. Dunn of the news. "He is an incredibly inspirational teacher in our College of Fine Arts and School of Music, which in turn are among the jewels of our academic offerings. His students find success in the most competitive environments."  

Wolfinbarger, who teaches trombone and has led the University's brass and percussion programs, has been a WMU faculty member since 1986. Students he has mentored have won a variety of major national and international trombone competitions. Since 2000, graduates of his studio have been admitted to some of the most competitive music programs in the United States, including The Juilliard School, Yale University, The Eastman School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory and Oberlin Conservatory.

Wolfinbarger and his wife traveled to Washington for the recognition of state winners and the announcement of four national winners. He was recognized Nov. 14 at a luncheon at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center as well as at an evening congressional reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill.

Colorado's Sen. Mark Udall congratulated and recognized the state and national winners from the U.S. Senate floor on Thursday as well, and the winners' names were entered into the Congressional Record that day. In addition, the Wolfinbargers were invited to meet with U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and his staff on Friday and were taken on a Capitol tour.

This year, a state Professor of the Year was recognized in 36 states. CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected four national winners. Wolfinbarger was selected from among some 350 faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.

In addition to the Michigan Professor of the Year honors, Wolfinbarger was recognized by the International Trombone Association in Denmark in 2009 as the sole recipient of ITA's most prestigious annual award "in recognition of his distinguished career and in acknowledgment of his impact on the world of trombone performance." He also was honored by WMU with a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010.

Wolfinbarger earned his bachelor's degree from Evangel University, his master's degree from North Texas State University and his doctoral degree from the University of North Texas. He is past president of ITA and serves as chair of that organization's governance committee.