CHARLESTON, WV, Dec. 13, 2021 — At the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s meeting last Friday, Chancellor Sarah Armstrong – who also serves on the board of the Faculty Merit Foundation – announced that Stephen F. Criniti, Ph.D., Professor of English at West Liberty University, has been named the 2020 Professor of the Year. This marks the third time in seven years that a West Liberty University professor has garnered the prestigious statewide honor.
“Thank you for naming me Professor of the Year. I’m humbled that you’ve allowed me to be counted among the many excellent professors who have received or have been nominated for this honor. I am grateful to Dr. Sylvia Senften and Dr. Jeremy Larance for nominating me and to my department chair Dr. Angela Rehbein for always supporting my work. I also thank my wife Mary Beth, and my whole family, for always supporting me. This is a true honor,” said Criniti.
“I congratulate Dr. Criniti on being selected West Virginia Professor of the Year. This is an exceptional honor, and it speaks volumes on the caliber of talent we have here at West Liberty University. The entire campus celebrates your success and achievement,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, WLU president.
In addition to Dr. Criniti, the 2020 finalists included: Micheal Fultz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry at West Virginia State University; Dan Hollis, M.A., Professor of Broadcast Journalism at Marshall University; Dr. Julie Reneau, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Special Education at Fairmont State University; and, Michael Smith, Ph.D., Professor of English at Bluefield State College.
Dr. Criniti earned his bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Professional Communication from Wheeling Jesuit University, his master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Dayton, and his doctoral degree in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Criniti is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Since joining West Liberty University in 2008, Dr. Criniti’s course list has included Advanced Composition; American Literature through the Civil War; American Realism and Naturalism; British Modernism; Composition Theory; Literature Appreciation for Non-Majors; Introduction to English Studies; Senior Seminar; and Multicultural Literature. In addition to his professorship, he serves or has served on numerous academic and administrative committees, including roles as the English Education Program Coordinator and the College of Liberal and Creative Arts’ representative to the University Curriculum Committee.
Criniti has been published in a variety of scholarly and literary journals, including Readings: A Journal for Scholars and Readers; American Transcendental Quarterly; Modern Language Studies; and Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. He also sits on the editorial board for the journal Explicator, and is a frequent presenter, lecturer, guest speaker and panelist, both regionally and nationally, on education-themed topics.
Criniti was previously honored at WLU with the Faculty Excellence in Service Award in 2019-2020 and the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016-2017. He also was named the Student Government’s choice for College of Liberal Arts Professor of the Year in 2018-2019.
A resident of Wheeling, he and his wife Mary Beth are the parents of one son, Matthew, 14.
The Faculty Merit Foundation was created in 1984 to provide a means to recognize and reward innovation and creativity among the faculties of West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. Through the Professor of the Year program, the outstanding achievements of those individuals are brought to the attention of the general public. A $10,000 cash award is given to the candidate selected as Professor of the Year, with smaller awards to the other finalists.
The Professor of the Year award is sponsored by: United Bank; Bowles Rice LLP; Greene, Ketchum, Bailey & Tweel LLP; Maier Foundation; Graystone Consulting; and, The Daywood Foundation.
Criniti teaches in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts, led by Dean Cecilia Conchar-Farr.