MTSU public health professor to receive top honor ...

MTSU public health professor to receive top honor for Black faculty in Feb. 21 ceremony

Middle Tennessee State University will celebrate another Black History Month tradition on Tuesday, Feb. 21, when Chandra Russell Story, a professor in MTSU’s Department of Health and Human Performance and former graduate director of the department’s interdisciplinary doctoral program, will receive the 2023 John Pleas Faculty Recognition Award.

Dr. Chandra Russell Story, associate professor in MTSU's Department of Health and Human Performance and graduate director of the department's interdisciplinary PhD program
Dr. Chandra Russell Story

The public ceremony is set for 4:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the MT Center inside MTSU’s Ingram Building at 2269 Middle Tennessee Blvd.

Andrew Owusu, professor of public health in the Department of Health and Human Performance and the 2022 Pleas Award recipient, will present the honor to Story, following the tradition of the previous year’s winner “passing the torch” of service and history to the new inductee.

A reception will follow the award presentation.

MTSU presents the honor each year to a Black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service, following in the footsteps of acclaimed psychology Professor Emeritus John Pleas.

Department of Health and Human Performance logo

Story, who earned both her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, joined the MTSU family in 2017 after teaching at Oklahoma State and coordinating grants at Idaho State University. She’s also a member of MTSU’s University Honors College faculty and the Women and Gender Studies Program faculty.

Her areas of expertise include women’s health, health program evaluations, health equity and social support. Her recent publications, research presentations and lecture topics range from improving flu vaccine rates among African Americans to the diets of older rural Black Americans with type 2 diabetes to studying food insecurity in students.

Story’s professional memberships include the Sisters of the Academy, the American Public Health Association and the Tennessee Public Health Association, and she is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.

Dr. John Pleas
Dr. John Pleas

Recipients of the annual John Pleas Faculty Award should have completed at least five years of service at MTSU and have a record of outstanding service. MTSU established the honor in 1997 to salute Pleas, who was the recipient of the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 1999.

You can learn more about the John Pleas Award at, which includes a list of all the winners since its inception.

A complete calendar of 2023 Black History Month events at MTSU is available at More information on the programs is available at

For more information and for updates on 2023 Black History Month events at MTSU, contact Danielle Rochelle, director of MTSU’s Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs, at 615-898-5812 or

— Gina E. Fann (