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Photo Courtesy of the Visual Production Center l-r (first row) Cheryl J. Cohen, professor emeritus; Dan Hendricks, vice president for advancement and public services; (second row) Miriam Satern, kinesiology chair; Bonnie Smith-Skripps, COEHS dean; Jennie Hemingway, COEHS development director
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Photo Courtesy of the Visual Production Center Cheryl J. Cohen, WIU professor emeritus, endowed the first lecture series in WIU's College of Education and Human Services
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Ellen Evans, a WIU alumna, will present the first Cohen lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 (Photo Courtesy of Ellen Evans)
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Inaugural Cohen Lecture in Kinesiology Set for Oct. 20

October 8, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - As the field of kinesiology continues to further the research and advance best practices involving human movement activities, kinesiology educators and practitioners benefit greatly from the ongoing field studies and research available today. Many times, an appropriate educational venue can help provide an effective way for professionals and students to learn about these new findings and advances in the field.

This month at Western Illinois University just such a venue will begin with the inaugural Cheryl J. Cohen Lecture, the first endowed lecture series for WIU's College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) and COEHS's kinesiology department. Provided to WIU through an endowment from Cheryl Cohen, WIU professor emeritus, the annual lecture will occur every fall semester.

According to Dan Hendricks, Western's vice president for advancement and public services and executive officer of the WIU Foundation, the focus of the lecture will alternate every year between exercise physiology and sport psychology. The first Cheryl J. Cohen Lecture is slated for 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20 in Horrabin Hall 78, with a dessert reception to follow in Horrabin 1. The lecture is open free to the public.

"Although Cheryl retired in 2006 after nearly 30 years of service, with this endowment, she will continue to provide Western's kinesiology faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students, as well as community members, with a preeminent learning opportunity on WIU's campus every year," Hendricks said.

Ellen Evans, Ph.D., FACSM, a former student of Cohen's and a native of Roseville (IL), will deliver the inaugural lecture "Optimal Body Composition for Successful Aging in Women: Interventions to Reduce Competing Disease Risks."

Evans earned her bachelor's at Western in 1987; completed her master's at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC); her doctorate at the University of Georgia; and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (MO). She currently serves as an associate professor in the kinesiology and community health department at UIUC, and she directs UIUC's bone and body composition laboratory.

Midwestern Merits
Cohen came to Western long before the kinesiology department went by the name "kinesiology."

"I started in 1978 when Brophy Hall had been open for five years. At that time, the department was known as 'physical education' or 'PE,' and there was only one undergraduate major -- PE teacher education," she explained. "The athletic training program was offered jointly between health sciences and physical education, and women's PE was in Brophy, men's in Western Hall; they were two separate departments. It was pretty typical at that point in time, although we did, jointly, have one graduate program."

Like Evans, Cohen earned her doctorate at UIUC, then taught and completed research at Purdue University before heading back to Illinois to teach at Western. Although from New York City, Cohen felt very comfortable living and working in the Midwest; more than that, she was impressed by Western's program and the amenities the campus afforded her.

"Brophy offered a wonderful laboratory complex, plus I liked the opportunity Western offered me to meld teaching and research, as well as develop an outstanding master's program in exercise physiology," Cohen explained.

As the field of physical education and exercise physiology advanced over Cohen's years at Western, WIU's PE department's offerings for both undergraduates and graduates morphed to reflect the progression in the field. In 2004, WIU's physical education department was renamed "kinesiology," and today, the department offers undergraduate programs in athletic training, exercise science and PE teacher education. Graduate degrees offered include a master's in kinesiology and a master's in sport management.

A Legacy for Students and Faculty
During her long tenure at Western, Cohen said her involvement with the students was among the work she remembers most fondly.

"I think I advised somewhere between 35 and 40 master's theses," she said. "Cumulatively, I think that's the thing I'm proudest of -- all those grad students I mentored through their master's theses."

For Cohen, the endowed lecture series provides a way to continue that connection to kinesiology students, as well a learning opportunity for faculty, staff and even the community.

"Kinesiology has several scholarships, one of which is for graduate students; they are all endowed and have been for a long time. But any one scholarship benefits only one person at a time. I wanted to do something that would benefit a group of people," Cohen added.

In addition to the annual lecture presentation, each year the selected lecturer will address one kinesiology department graduate class on a topic appropriate to that class related to his or her lecture topic.

"The lecture series will benefit the kinesiology department by bringing scholars to the Western campus," noted Miriam Satern, kinesiology department chairperson. "These scholars will interact with our current graduate students during the graduate class presentation, as well as stimulate scholarship through the public lecture, providing another outlet to stimulate scholarly discussions among WIU faculty and students."

According to Bonnie Smith-Skripps, COEHS dean, this first endowed lecture series is an exciting development for the college.

"We're very pleased that Dr. Cohen provided this annual additional opportunity for scholarship in the kinesiology department and in the college," she said. "This lecture series will provide scholarship in the sub-disciplines of exercise physiology and sport psychology for many years to come."

For more information, contact Dana Moon at (309) 298-1690 or

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Relations