2015 Kamelia Massih arts prize winners announced
Author: Suzanne Gray, College of the Arts
Posted: June 10, 2015

PSU College of the Arts has awarded this year’s Kamelia Massih Outstanding Faculty and Student Prizes in the Arts respectively to Corey Griffin, Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Margaret Heath, who graduates with a BFA in art practices this month. 


Corey Griffin, the faculty honoree, investigates a largely unexplored area within the field of architecture: the role of structural systems in the performance of buildings. With graduate degrees in both architecture and structural engineering, he is co-founder of the Research-based Design Initiative, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary program that encourages collaboration between engineers and architects. Griffin is also the director of PSU’s new Research-based Design Teaching Laboratory, opening fall 2015, in which students will conduct hands-on research on sustainable building strategies. The research will have direct impact on buildings being designed by Portland firms. Griffin is known as an astute teacher and mentor, seamlessly integrating theory, coursework, research opportunities and professional collaboration for his students. 


Sculptor Margaret Heath is the student honoree. In 2014, her work received an honorable mention in a high-profile competition at the International Sculpture Center; she was one of only a handful of undergrads ever to receive this honor. This summer, she will be one of two PSU students whose work will be shown at the Blackfish Gallery in downtown Portland as part of an exhibit featuring recent college graduates. 

In addition to creating her own artwork, Heath has been very involved in the Portland art scene—so much so that she was recently selected for a President’s Award for Community Engagement from PSU. Heath works on the curatorial staff at the Littman Gallery on campus and has volunteered with a several major arts organizations in Portland. She also co-created Surplus Space, an interdisciplinary, artist-run project space in a residential home in North Portland. The space is funded by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. “Receiving this competitive professional grant while still an undergraduate student is an extremely impressive feat,” says Erik Geschke, Associate Professor of Art, who nominated Heath for the Massih Award. 


The Kamelia Massih Endowment for the Arts was established upon the passing of former PSU student Kamelia Massih on May 19, 2010, with memorial gifts from friends, family and colleagues, as well as by a donation from Massih’s brother, PSU alumnus Fariborz Maseeh, through his Massih Foundation.

A beloved Portland optometrist, Kamelia Massih was a true American success story. Born and raised in Tehran, she came to the United States in 1978, initiating her studies in biology at Portland State University and subsequently graduating in 1981 from Oregon State University. After completing a doctorate in optometry at Pacific University, she opened her own practice, Beaverton Vision World, in 1989. She later opened a second clinic in downtown Portland near the Portland State University campus. She cared deeply about others and gave her time and resources to a wide range of national charities. She was a dedicated wife and mother who loved travel, the outdoors, and above all else, fine arts, music and dance. 

The Kamelia Massih Outstanding Faculty and Student Prizes in the Arts recognize those individuals who bring innovation to their discipline, demonstrate excellence in performing and/or fine arts and exemplify PSU’s commitment to community engagement.