Health and Human Performance professor to receive ...

Health and Human Performance professor to receive John Pleas Faculty Award

An exemplar of both health and human performance will be saluted with one of MTSU’s top honors.

Andrew Owusu, professor and graduate director for the public health unit within the Department of Health and Human Performance, will receive the John Pleas Faculty Award at a ceremony slated to begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, in the James Union Building. The event is part of MTSU’s celebration of Black History Month, which carries a theme this year of “Black Love: Health, Wellness, Relationships.”

Dr. Andrew Owusu, professor and graduate director for the public health unit within the Department of Health and Human Performance (MTSU photo)

Dr. Andrew Owusu

Owusu’s research interests include adolescent health risk behaviors and protective factors, childhood lead poisoning and school health policies and practices. He has secured more than $895,000 in external and internal grants in support of research and service over the past 15 years.

Courses Owusu has taught include Community and Public Health, Data Management in Public Health, Epidemiology and Health Promotion, among others. He led the drive to establish a Master of Public Health degree program in 2019.

In addition, Owusu is an eight-time All-American and three-time Olympian in track and field, a discipline in which he had assisted the late MTSU track coach Dean Hayes as a coach since 2004 and continues in that role today. He has served as a team coach for his native Ghana at several Olympic Games.

In her recommendation letter for Owusu, associate professor of community and public health Bethany Wrye wrote, “I am always amazed at how, even in the midst of working with the Olympic Committee, leading our area through the accreditation process and creating reports for the World Health organization, he still manages to create time to sit down with struggling students for one-on-one sessions.”

Dr. John Pleas

Dr. John Pleas

The John Pleas Faculty Award is presented annually to a tenured or tenure-track Black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service. Recipients should have completed at least five years of service at MTSU and have a record of outstanding service.

In 1997, the award was established to honor John Pleas, professor emeritus of psychology. Pleas received the Outstanding Teaching Award in 1999.

For more information, contact 2021 Pleas Award recipient Jennifer Woodard, an associate professor of journalism and strategic media and a member of the Black History Month Committee, at 615-898-2766 or

— Gina K. Logue (