Cynthia Westerbeck, accomplished pianist and violinist, is professor of English and chair of that department at Pacific Union College. A gifted performer on both instruments, she completed undergraduate BA degrees in both English and music, with piano as her performance area, at Walla Walla College, now University, in 1990.
While at WWC, 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, 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 PUC, where she teaches British Literature, the Classical World, honors classes, and an annual PUC summer class at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. She has also continued to perform as a musician, playing viola in the college orchestra. 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.