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Mississippi State team honored with national architectural education award

The Professional Horizons team—including MSU professors Hans Herrmann, Abbey Franovich and Ashley Studdard-Hughes, along with the Design Leadership Foundation’s Thomas Kligerman—was honored with the 2024 AIA/ACSA Practice and Leadership award.

headshot of Hans Herrmann

Three Mississippi State University professors are part of a team receiving a recent Architectural Education Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the American Institute of Architects.

The Professional Horizons team—including MSU professors Hans Herrmann (architecture), Abbey Franovich and Ashley Studdard-Hughes (interior design), along with the Design Leadership Foundation’s Thomas Kligerman—was honored with the 2024 AIA/ACSA Practice and Leadership award.

“This year, MSU’s award application was the only winning submission among all 175 recognized National Architecture Accreditation Board programs across North America and beyond,” said Herrmann.

Recognizing “best practice” examples of highly effective teaching, scholarship and outreach in the areas of professional practice and leadership, the award celebrates the team’s multi-year efforts for its Professional Horizons work, the shared name encompassing both a New York City-based work/study summer program and a workshop initiative that promotes professional development and job search skills.

“In short, it is a recognition of our efforts in conjunction with the Design Leadership Foundation to bring awareness and access to potential career tracks,” Herrmann explained.

The Design Leadership Foundation, part of the Design Leadership Network, has been supporting students studying architecture, landscape architecture and interior design at Mississippi State for the last three years as part of a pilot program begun with the help of Herrmann, a DLF founding board member. The foundation’s goal is to provide access and opportunity to design students.

headshot of Ashley Studdard-Hughes

“To date the Design Leadership Foundation has donated more than $200,000 to MSU students with an additional $100,000 planned to support 2024 programs and scholarships,” said Herrmann.

The funds include more than 100 technology and materials grants awarded to students in need, the facilitation of over 471 mentorship sessions, and scholarships allowing for 36 students to attend the Professional Horizons Summer Work Experience in New York City for the past two summers.

“The Design Leadership Foundation and Mississippi State University have cultivated such an important partnership with the shared goal of helping our students see farther and reach higher than they might have realized was possible,” said Angi Elsea Bourgeois, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design. “Recognizing the challenges to success in the industry to design is more than access to a high-quality education, the DLF and MSU are creating opportunities for our students to network with professionals at the pinnacle of their careers in the most competitive markets in the world. It is no surprise that this innovative strategy and partnership have received well-deserved recognition by the AIA and ACSA.”

An awards banquet will be held on March 15 as part of the ACSA112 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Herrmann will present the work on behalf of his team. 

The American Institute of Architects is a professional membership association for architecture professionals.

ACSA is an international association of architecture schools whose membership includes all of the accredited professional degree programs in the U.S. and Canada.

Learn more about the Professional Horizons work at

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