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Evangel grad Stephen Wolfinbarger named “2013 Michigan Professor of the Year”

January 2, 2014 | Paul K. Logsdon

Evangel University alumnus Stephen M. Wolfinbarger (’79), professor of music at Western Michigan University, has been named the “2013 Michigan Professor of the Year.”

Wolfinbarger, who earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree in 1979, says the influence of an Evangel professor made a significant impact on his life and career.

“While there were many important influences on my career,” says Wolfinbarger, “Dr. Joe Nicholson was my trombone instructor during much of high school and throughout college. I owe him a debt of gratitude for all he did and for his major influence on my career.”

Nicholson, now retired, taught at Evangel for 31 years and served as chairman of Evangel’s Department of Music when Wolfinbarger was a student. Thanks to his influence, Wolfinbarger became a member of the Springfield Symphony at an early age.

“At that time, he was principal trombonist with the Springfield Symphony,” says Wolfinbarger. “He was instrumental in me playing with them.”

Wolfinbarger earned his master’s degree from North Texas State University and his doctoral degree from the University of North Texas. He has been a faculty member at WMU since 1986.

“Steve is a fabulous teacher,” says Nicholson. “He is a past president of the International Trombone Association, and he is highly respected in the field. I am proud of the honors that he has earned.”

Wolfinbarger has had many winners and finalists in the two most important student solo trombone competitions in the world — the U.S. Army Band’s National Trombone Solo Competition and the International Trombone Association (ITA) competitions.

“This is a well-deserved award for Dr. Wolfinbarger,” says WMU President John M. Dunn. “He is an incredibly inspirational teacher in our College of Fine Arts and School of Music.”

Wolfinbarger and his wife, Sandy — also an Evangel graduate — traveled to Washington in November for the recognition. He was honored at a luncheon at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

The winners were also recognized from the U.S. Senate floor and were given a private tour of the Capitol.

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