But now, he's in the public eye for reasons far different than scholarship or fine guitar work.
He's scheduled to make his first court appearance this morning after being busted for Internet sexual exploitation of a child, among other things.
The arrest came as the result of a sting operation in which an undercover operative portrayed a child under the age of fifteen — and an affidavit includes accounts of Cress asking the officer to call him "daddy" and wondering if she would "like to fuck a middle-aged man."
Cress's bio page on the Western State website lists him as a professor of sociology, behavioral and social science.
He received a bachelor degree from Augsburg College and both a masters and a PhD from the University of Arizona.
A YouTube video from 2013 shows him joining other professors to discuss a trip to Egypt under the auspices of the ARAMFO Educational Foundation.
Here's that clip.
On his Facebook page, meanwhile, Cress's gallery includes plenty of shots of him with family members.
But music is a frequent theme, as witnessed by this shot....
He's listed as a member of the band Iola, which specializes in roots music.
Here's a photo of the band, with Cress at the lower left, holding a model of a rooster on his lap. (Note: We've obscured the identity of the other band members following a reader request.)
Among other places, the band's music can be found on a MySpace page featuring this shot of Cress.
But according to the First Judicial District DA's office, Cress hit plenty of sour notes earlier this month.
On February 3, the DA's office notes, an investigator with the Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations unit, known by the acronym CHEEZO, was contacted by Cress — although he presumably thought he was communicating with an underage girl.
The communication subsequently became "sexually graphic," the DA's office maintains — and an affidavit obtained by 7News certainly reflects that statement.
The document cites a Skype conversation in which Cress appeared "to be masturbating because you can see his left arm moving as if he was."
In addition, Cress is quoted as encouraging the "teen" to "sneak out" with him.
No such rendezvous took place. Instead, investigators with the DA's office drove to Cress's home in Gunnison on the morning of March 1 and placed him under arrest.
The charges against him: Internet luring of a child and three counts of Internet sexual exploitation of a child.
The bond for Cress has been set at $20,000. He's expected to appear in the Jefferson County Courthouse at 10 a.m. this morning.
Look below to see his booking photo and a 7News piece.