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West Liberty University’s Linda Cowan Is West Virginia Professor of the Year Finalist


A West Liberty University music professor is one of five finalists for 2021 West Virginia Professor of the Year.

Linda Cowan of WLU joins West Virginia State chemistry professor Micheal Fultz, Shepherd nursing professor Michael Groves, Marshall journalism professor Dan Hollis and WVU Tech history professor Paul Rakes on the finalist list. Each year the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia honors an outstanding faculty member from a West Virginia college or university.

“I congratulate Dr. Cowan on her selection as a finalist for this prestigious award,” WLU President W. Franklin Evans said. “She has brought honor to the College of Liberal and Creative Arts and to the entire university, and we wish her well as she continues through the candidate process that will determine the final selection for West Virginia’s 2021 Professor of the Year.”

Over the past seven years, WLU faculty members have been selected three times as the state’s professor of the year, and six times as a finalist in the statewide competition.

Interviews with the five candidates will be held Monday, Feb. 14. Traditionally, finalists are honored at a springtime banquet in Charleston, where the professor of the year is announced. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, plans for a banquet have not been determined.

Cowan holds a bachelor’s in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in vocal performance from Indiana State University, and a doctorate in vocal performance from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

She has performed in the genres of opera, musical theater, theater, oratorio, and the concert hall. She has concertized extensively in New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Cowan created Hilltop Opera at WLU, where she has taught for 19 years, and directed many operatic and theatrical performances.

Cowan is chair of WLU’s Music and Theatre Department, and teaches private and class voice, diction, opera workshop, musical theater workshop, and vocal literature and pedagogy classes. Cowan previously taught at the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts, and has been a frequent guest artist-teacher. She served the National Association of Teachers of Singing as the governor for West Virginia and as former president of the NATS Tri-States chapter.

She currently performs with Voces Solis, a nonprofit chorus in Pittsburgh, and is in demand as a guest clinician for master classes and for All-State and All-State Chamber Choir auditions, Solo and Ensemble Festivals, etc.

Her passions include her outreach to elementary and middle-school students with her “Opera Improv” workshops, serving on the National Board of Alpha Chi, and being a member of Chapter AB-Weirton.

A $10,000 cash award is given to the candidate selected as Professor of the Year, with smaller awards to the other finalists.


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