MTSU University College bestows honors at inaugura...

MTSU University College bestows honors at inaugural awards program

MTSU’s University College recently recognized several winners at its inaugural awards program.

The University College’s award recipients were nominated by their peers in the MTSU community, acknowledging hard work accomplished by students, faculty, and staff. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, no formal ceremony was held.

See a full list of award winners here.

Dr. Rick Sluder, vice provost, Student Success; dean, University College

Dr. Rick Sluder

“I am proud of the work everyone in our college does to assist students and advance the interests of MTSU,” said Richard Sluder, Ph.D., dean of University College. “Our students and faculty have incredible stories to tell and these awards are a small gesture to recognize their continuing work.”

Two undergraduate students, Gina Fountain and Clarissa Tucker, both received awards and were recognized by faculty in their nominations.

“I felt very honored that a professor thought highly enough of my work to have nominated me,” said Fountain, a Spring 2020 graduate who received the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award. “I was honestly shocked and thought someone had made a mistake.”

It was no mistake to her professor, Ryan Korstange, Ph.D., who said Fountain’s work was “insightful” and praised her ability to balance schoolwork and her full-time job as a kindergarten teacher.

For Tucker, winner of the Student Achievement Award, it was all about overcoming adversity. She attended two different schools, stopping the second time because of a difficult pregnancy, before enrolling at MTSU and finishing her degree 13 years after she started it.

“I know that many of the nontraditional students have similar stories to mine — work, kids, and school ­— and I appreciate being selected,” said Tucker, another Spring 2020 graduate. “It’s an absolute privilege to be bestowed this award.”

Many members of the MTSU faculty were recognized as well for their outstanding work.

Layne Bryant, the recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Award, was lauded for her responsiveness to her students. Pamela McCluney was nominated by a fellow professor who noted her willingness to create supplemental materials for her courses.

Professor Dianna Rust, Ph.D., was nominated by a colleague and student because she “always goes the extra mile” to take care of her students.

“She has presented me with many opportunities to further develop myself as a student and professional,” one student wrote the awards committee. “She has played a huge role in my success at MTSU.”

MTSU’s University College includes both graduate and undergraduate programs, inviting both traditional and nontraditional students to complete their degrees. For more information about University College, visit

— Hunter Patterson (