Liberal Arts Professor Receives MTSU’s First C-USA Faculty Achievement Award
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Liberal Arts Professor Receives MTSU’s First C-USA Faculty Achievement Award

Department of Art and Design Professor Sisavanh Houghton presents Middle Tennessee State University with the first Conference USA Faculty Achievement Award. The award was formally presented to her recently by University Vice Chancellor Mark Byrnes in the Cope Administration Building on the MTSU campus in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Liberal Arts Professor Sisavanh Houghton recently received the first Conference USA Faculty Achievement Award from Middle Tennessee State University.

MTSU has been a member of CUSA, one of the nation’s top athletic conferences for academic achievement by student-athletes, since 2014. Earlier this year, the conference established the Faculty Achievement and Professor of the Year Awards to recognize exceptional achievement by faculty members at conference universities.

University officials said Houghton, a professor of painting in the School of Art and Design, was selected from among many entries by a committee of faculty colleagues.

“I am thrilled that Sisavanh has won the first-ever C-USA Faculty Achievement Award at MTSU,” said Vice Chancellor Mark Byrnes. “This is an initiative to recognize and honor the great scholarly work that is being done at the conference. This conference effort reminds us all that the primary reason we are here is to do scholarly work and to celebrate the faculty who are so important in that process.”

MTSU College of Liberal Arts Dean Leah Tolbert Lyons called Houghton “a gifted artist who shares her knowledge with students as an engaging instructor—whether in the classroom or around the world through study abroad. Her dedication to her students and their success exemplifies what a professor should be; Sisavanh represents the school well both on and off campus.”

Houghton has taught at MTSU for the past 20 years. She is a Lao interdisciplinary visual artist who has exhibited internationally in Italy and Greece and nationally at the Knoxville Museum of Art and the Susquehanna Art Museum. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Hunter Museum of American Art and the American Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname.

“I was thrilled to receive this award,” she said. “I think it’s amazing that Conference USA recognizes and rewards and even recognizes and promotes faculty who are sometimes in the background. We always support students, but also students who are athletes, who we know work hard academically and athletically. I’ve always been impressed by their ability to maintain their work ethic and their ability to see the importance of both sides, academically and athletically.”

Houghton received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas and an MFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Her numerous awards and honors include Best in Show at the 38th Positive/Negative Exhibition in 2023 and the Tri-Star Current Art Warhol Foundation Fund in 2022.

She has previously won the Non-Instructional Assignment Award, Outstanding Teaching and Distinguished Creative Activity Awards, and has been recognized as an Outstanding Mentor by the Disability and Access Center at MTSU.

“It has been a pleasure to give back to my students, faculty, and service, and even my own research,” Houghton said. “As an Asian-American, it has been important to me to be at the forefront of my teaching, service, and research. I continue to serve MTSU and the local and refugee communities. It is my great pleasure to give back to my students and to MTSU, which has recognized me with numerous awards and scholarships during my journey here in Middle Tennessee.”

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