Four named as Distinguished Alumni for leading in their fields

Four named as Distinguished Alumni for leading in their fields

The University of Bridgeport Alumni Association honored four with its greatest prize, the Distinguished Alumni Award, on September 14. The association also presented its 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 ’13

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.

Jahana Hayes ’14

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, native, knows all about barriers to education. She was a teenager mother. No one in her family had attended college and therefore didn’t know how to help her apply to schools. Her grandmother wasn’t even able to get to parent-teacher conferences on her behalf.

Yet Hayes was determined to teach. And so, encouraged by her community, including teachers who once loaned her books, Hayes graduated from Crosby High School, worked her way through college, earned several degrees, and became, quite literally, America’s Best Teacher.

This May, President Obama handed Hayes a crystal apple statue and named her the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. She also is the 2016 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

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

As a sophomore at UB, 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.


Judy Thompson ’76

Judy Thompson was well into a seven-year career as a lab scientist when she enrolled at the University’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.