April 10, 2007
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Cobb earns National Dance Educator of the Year Award
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Combine spirited movement, a passion for mentorship and arts education and you've captured the world of Thom Cobb, SRU associate professor of dance and winner of the 2007 "College/University National Dance Educator of the Year Award."
Cobb received the award from the National Dance Association, a Virginia-based non-profit organization that promotes healthy lifestyles by advocating dance education for students of all age groups. He was selected from a national pool that included nominees from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Cobb also received the association's Presidential Citation and a Plaudit Award for outstanding service to the association and the dance profession.
In naming Cobb the educator of the year, the group cited his creative teaching methods, promotion of dance as an art form and mentorship with students.
"I consider myself an evangelist for the arts," Cobb said. "The art of dance promotes physical and metal wellness, the development of social skills and peace. Many studies show that the fine and performing arts promote cognitive development, including creative-thinking skills."
"We couldn't be prouder of Thom," said Robert Smith, SRU president. "He embodies the mission of arts education. He teaches students to be creative and flexible and to harness their energy in positive ways."
Cobb joined SRU in 1978 and was instrumental in launching the dance major in 1987 and the dance department two years later. He teaches "Dance Fundamentals," "Introduction to Creative Dance," and "Modern Dance and Jazz." He has led dance residencies at universities and public schools and is involved with several dance organizations.
The Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance named him the 2006 Dance Educator of the Year.
Still, dance is not the field he or his family expected him to enter. The son of a Navy veteran and school secretary, Cobb grew up in Colfax, Ill (population 850). He attended Illinois State University, where he majored in music education. He discovered dance while in college and continued on to earn a master's degree in dance in 1974 from Illinois State.
Cobb taught for four years at Illinois Wesleyan University before accepting a teaching position at Slippery Rock University. "I love this place; after 29 years it's home," he said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.