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Paul Nathan Cohen named 2003 Piper Professor

Date released: 05/01/03
 SAN MARCOS – Southwest Texas State University faculty member Paul Nathan Cohen, professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of English, has been named Piper Professor for 2003 by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. Cohen and 15 other professors from around the state were named Piper Professors on May 1 in honor of their dedication and service to teaching at the collegiate level. Piper Foundation honorees are chosen by committee members who look for well-rounded, outgoing teachers, devoted to their profession and have made a special impact on their students and the community. “The real credit goes to all my students, who’ve always demanded the best of me,” said Cohen, “and to my many colleagues who’ve inspired me with their fine teaching.”

Cohen and 15 other professors from around the state were named Piper Professors on May 1 in honor of their dedication and service to teaching at the collegiate level. Piper Foundation honorees are chosen by committee members who look for well-rounded, outgoing teachers, devoted to their profession and have made a special impact on their students and the community.

“The real credit goes to all my students, who’ve always demanded the best of me,” said Cohen, “and to my many colleagues who’ve inspired me with their fine teaching.”

He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Baltimore and followed that with a master of arts and Ph.D. from Rutgers. A faculty member of SWT since 1982, his fields of interest include Literature and the Other Arts, Postmodernism and Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century British and Irish literature. Cohen was named National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities for 1996-99, and does volunteer teaching outside the university for community groups at public libraries, elder hostels and elementary schools.

“I had done other work for a while, but then I realized long ago that this is absolutely what I am best at doing, what I find most gratifying, the way I can be most useful in the world, and the thing that gives me the most pleasure,” Cohen said of his call to teaching. “I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. There was a time, some years back, when I won (the NEH) teaching award, and it gave me so much relief time with my classes that in theory I didn’t have to teach at all. And I just couldn’t stand it. I ended up teaching on a kind of volunteer basis, because that’s how I am.”

Cohen is the 12th SWT professor to be named a Piper Professor. Other SWT Piper Professors have been Emmie Craddock, 1962, history; Robert Galvan, 1968, modern languages; Thomas Brasher, 1970, English; Dan Farlow, 1975, political science; Clarence Schultz, 1976, sociology; Henrietta Avent, 1979, health and physical education; Robert Walts, 1982, English; Beverly Chiodo, 1988, computer information systems and administrative sciences; Barbara Hatcher, 1993, curriculum and instruction; Michael John Hennessy, 2001, English; and Nancy Fehl Chavkin, social work, 2002.