This spring, the university community honors four highly respected, long-term faculty members as they prepare for retirement. Professor of Music (Theory) Donald Black, M.F.A., M.A.; Director of Church Music and Professor of Music (Organ, Harpsichord) Steven Cooksey, Ph.D.; Professor of Religion and Philosophy John Copenhaver, Ph.D.; and Professor of Political Science William Shendow, Ph.D., each leave an invaluable legacy of inspiration and academic excellence — not only for Shenandoah’s students, but for the Winchester community and their respective academic fields of study.
Professor of Music (Theory) Donald Black, M.F.A., M.A., has taught at Shenandoah University for 46 years. Throughout his tenure, he has taught most of the courses in music theory, aural skills and conducting. He also taught applied clarinet, and for 20 years conducted the Conservatory Orchestra. Black’s conducting experience at Shenandoah included many of its opera productions, and his wife, Nancy, often played piano for these performances. He conducted several different Shenandoah Ensembles at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as other prestigious venues. Known as “Mr. Shenandoah” in the conservatory, he has served as teacher and mentor to many successful performers, conductors and teachers.
Professor of Religion and Philosophy John Copenhaver, Ph.D., has spent his entire 27-year teaching career at Shenandoah University. In 1992, he was honored with an Exemplary Teaching Award by the General Board of Higher Education of the United Methodist Church. In 1999, he developed and taught a course in collaboration with colleagues in biology and psychology, for which he won an award from the Templeton Foundation. Last year, Dr. Copenhaver was honored for his leadership, service and advocacy of diversity in international programs. He served as chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy for 17 years. During that time, he oversaw development of the Christian Leadership Program and the subsequent JustFaith Christian Leadership Program with Professor of Religion Barry Penn-Hollar, Ph.D. He has served as a catalyst for interfaith understanding and cooperation, most notably as president of the Valley Interfaith Council since 2001. “Throughout his career, he has opened students’ minds to the religions of the world, modeling for them an attitude of deep respect and appreciation for all cultures and peoples,” said College of Arts & Sciences Dean Calvin Allen, Ph.D.
Director of Church Music and Professor of Music (Organ, Harpsichord) Steven Cooksey, Ph.D., came to Shenandoah in 1972. He was responsible for overseeing the installation of the pipe organ in the Goodson Chapel/Recital Hall, and founded Shenandoah’s Bach Handel Festival which continues as one of the conservatory’s finest music festivals supported by the community. He also founded the Summer Church Music Institute. During his tenure, Dr. Cooksey designed and taught all courses in church music, and instructed music history, music literature and conducting for both undergraduate and graduate levels. He is known by his students as a “gentle giant” — always gracious, respectful, humble and unselfish. Cooksey is known for his commitment to his students, always willing to give hours of extra time to help them achieve their goals.
Professor of Political Science William Shendow, Ph.D., in his role as professor and community service advocate since 1997, helped to create and administer a public administration/political science major and establish the Marsh Institute for Government and Public Policy. Through the former Marsh Institute (known today as the Center for Public Service and Scholarship), Dr. Shendow inspired and informed students as well as the local community about public affairs and the political process. The institute set up programs like the Kids’ Voting program, academic discussions on global politics through the International Topics Forum and summer programs on the importance of public policy for high school students. During his tenure, Shendow devoted his time and talent to educating his students and the local community. Through the creation of a political science major, Shendow conveyed his knowledge of the political process and its importance in our lives. He believed that by educating citizens to the political process, our world could become a better place. His legacy can be found in the students who participated in his classes and became better-educated citizens.