Cynthia Westerbeck, accomplished pianist and violinist, is professor of English at Walla Walla University, a position she has held since 2017. A gifted performer on both instruments, she completed undergraduate BA degrees in both English and music, with piano as her performance area, at WWU, in 1990.
While a student at WWU, Westerbeck, a student of Leonard Richter, played in the Spokane Allied Arts Festival for eight years, winning numerous awards and medals. During the 1987-88 school year, she won the Walla Walla Symphony Young Artist auditions and, in March 1989, performed Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra.
Westerbeck subsequently completed an M.A. in American and English literature, and a Ph.D. in English literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She won the Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence while doing graduate work at WU.
In her first year of teaching at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, Westerbeck received the President's Award for Teaching Excellence. While at CUC, she was a preferred accompanist for several recitals. During this time, she married Roy Benton, a mathematics and philosophy professor at CUC.
In 2004, she and her husband accepted invitations to teach at Pacific Union College, where she caired the English department and taught British Literature, the Classical World, honors classes, and an annual PUC summer class at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. She also continued to perform as a musician, playing viola in the college orchestra and accompanying as needed. Westerbeck was named PUC's Educator of the Year during the 2007-2008 school year. In 2010, at the 25th anniversary of her graduating class, she was guest speaker at Walla Walla Valley Academy's Homecoming Weekend.
Sources: Pacific Union College 2008 English Department Newsletter, Ellipses; Winter 2011 Walla Walla Valley Academy Alumni Newsletter, Visions, 2:. Dan Shultz, A Great Tradition, Music at Walla Walla College, 1892-1992, 208, 209; personal knowledge.