UB Alumni Association names 2016 Distinguished Alumni

UB Alumni Association names 2016 Distinguished Alumni

Award winners to be recognized on September 14, when association also presents $10,000 scholarship.


The University of Bridgeport Alumni Association will present four with its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, on Wednesday, September 14.  The association also will award its annual Alumni Association Scholarship, worth $10,000 this year, to junior Mendel Murray.

“Each year, the UB Alumni Association awards an annual scholarship to an undergraduate whose academic achievements and community involvement exemplify our greatest hopes for today’s students. At the same time, we look forward to honoring individuals whose exceptional success and contributions to their communities are nothing less than awe-inspiring,” said Alumni Association President Dennis Brotherton ’86.

“Our 2016 award winners are extraordinary ambassadors for the University of Bridgeport, and we are thrilled to honor them.”

This year’s Distinguished Alumni include:

Jim Forde ’14

School of Education

Jim Forde’s breathtaking career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) began as boy, when he spent countless hours with his father building radios, televisions, and other contraptions.

For more than 20 years teaching science and computing, Forde’s enthusiasm for playing with gadgets—now hailed as “hands-on learning—coupled with his steadfast determination to make STEM education accessible to all children, has made him immensely popular with students. The Stamford, CT, school district—where is currently an administrative intern and science teacher at Scofield Magnet Middle School – named him its 1995 District Teacher of the Year.

In early 2016, Forde was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for Computer Science Education.

Forde earned his Certificate of Advanced Study (Six-Year Degree) from UB’s School of Education. He began teaching in Stamford in 1991, “before the World Wide Web,” he says. Nonetheless, he founded a student computing club using whatever technology was available: 50-foot phone lines that ran from his classroom to a teacher’s lounge to connect to a dial-up Internet line and floppy discs.

Today, Forde sponsors a Computer Coding and 3-D Printing Clubs at Cloonan. As Stamford’s former STEM professional, he’s developed STEM curricula for the district, organized a community STEM festival, and spearheaded professional development.

Those campaigns led him to start @stemnetwork, the Twitter feed he created so teachers can freely exchange ideas about developing STEM curricula, professional development, and other related issues. Currently, more than 3,000 teachers around the world follow the feed, including Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Build, Latinas in STEM, and Black Girls Code


Jahana Hayes ’14

School of Education

Jahana Hayes earned her Certificate of Advanced Study from the School of Education in 2014. At one point in her life, this academic goal seemed nearly impossible.

Hayes, a Waterbury, CT, graduated from Crosby High School as a teenager mother, became the first in her family to attend college, earned several degrees.

In May 2016, was named National Teacher of the Year by President Obama.  She also is the 2016 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

“I know what it feels like to struggle to find sunlight and constantly be met with concrete barriers,” Hayes told dignitaries at the White House.

Not surprisingly, Hayes chose to return to Waterbury, where she teaches history at John F. Kennedy High School. She also co-runs a club at the school called HOPE (Helping Out People Everywhere), insisting that kids who have little to give—and don’t believe they have much to offer the world—can learn their value through service. The club has raised thousands for cancer charities and to build homes with Habitat for Humanity, among other campaigns.

As America’s Top Teacher, Hayes has vowed to promote agenda that put students and service first. “We need to gradate citizens. We need to graduate people who care about their neighbors, who will be conscientious, productive members of society,” she says. “This is the nation I want to see.”


Bill Manning ’87, ’89

Ernest C. Trefz School of Business

As a sophomore at the University of Bridgeport, alumnus Bill Manning helped the men’s soccer team clinch a NCAA quarterfinal berth. His off-the-field accomplishments span a 23-year career in in executive positions in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles, the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets and Real Salt Lake, where he was credited for tripling season tickets and sponsorships for the franchise.  A former Major League Soccer Executive of the Year, Manning, 50, currently oversees all team and business operations for Toronto FC, where he was most recently appointed president in the fall of 2015.

A native of Massapequa, New York, Manning continued his playing career after college and won a U.S. Open Cup with the Brooklyn Italians in 1991, and played professionally in the United Soccer League with the Penn-Jersey Spirit (1991), Valley Golden Eagles (1993) and New York Fever (1994-95). Manning also holds a U.S. Soccer National “A” Coaching License.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management and a MBA from UB, where he was previously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. He lives in Toronto with his wife Jennifer and their sons, John and Will.


Judy Thompson ’76

School of Nursing

Judy Thompson was well into a seven-year career as a lab scientist when she enrolled at the University of Bridgeport’s School of Nursing, where she earned her Associates Degree. “It was the best decision I could have ever made,” says Thomson. “UB was my stepping stone to a career I love and still practice to this day.”

A registered CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) and widely recognized expert in anesthesia, Thompson served as director for the Hospital of St Raphael School of Nurse Anesthesia from 1985 to 2013. During her tenure, the school graduated over 300 nurse anesthetists.

In 2013,  Thompson left St. Raphael’s to help start a new doctoral program in nursing, with a specialty in anesthesia, at Quinnipiac University, where she currently serves as an assistant clinical professor of nursing. She has been appointed as a faculty member at the Frank Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac as well.

In addition to her teaching, Thompson also gives anesthesia at Hartford Hospital and volunteers doing per diem work at many hospitals throughout Connecticut.

In 2014, she was awarded Program Director of the Year by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists; it is the highest honor a CRNA program director can receive in their career.


Mendel Murray ’17 – Alumni Board Scholar

Since his arrival at UB, Murray has steadfastly worked to become the person he wants to be—a team manager in the NBA and a role model in his community.

The business major has a near-perfect GPA that has landed him on the President’s List every semester since he’s arrived at UB. He’s also noted for his can-do initiative. Just days into his freshman year, for instance, Murray introduced himself to UB men’s basketball coaches asking if he could volunteer as team manager. They accepted his offer, and for the past two years, Murray has spent approximately 12 hours a week attending to a multitude of tasks : getting players’ jerseys from the laundry, for instance, running the clock, videotaping games, mopping sweat from the floor—the kind of jobs other people might avoid.

“But I don’t think that way,” says Murray. “You got to start somewhere.”

It’s not just about pushing a mop. The daily exposure to players and coaching staff has helped Murray to develop management skills required of any leader, say academic advisers and coaches who supported Murray’s scholarship application.

“Mendel’s very coachable. He’ll come into my office three or four times a month. ‘Can I ask you a question?’ And we talk about the right step to develop himself. That’s what I love about hm. And he has great people skills,” says School of Business Assistant Dean Tim Raynor. “No matter where he ends up, he’ll be very successful.”

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu