Manning among those to be honored by Alumni Association

Author: Arts and Letters


The University of Notre Dame Alumni Association will present four awards during ceremonies on campus this fall.

The Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Award honoring distinguished public service will be presented Sept. 4 to Percy A. Pierre , a 1961 Notre Dame graduate, University Trustee and former Michigan State University vice president.

Pierre, who earned his master’s degree from Notre Dame and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, is recognized as the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in electrical engineering.

In 1969, Pierre began a series of administrative posts in government and higher education. He was the principal architect of the national minority engineering effort after he co-chaired the 1973 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Symposium. He also served as the program officer at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for minority engineering for which he developed and funded many organizations, including the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Inc. (GEM program), which was housed for 30 years at Notre Dame.

Pierre left academia in 1977 to become an assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition in the U.S. Department of the Army. He managed some $10 billion annually for the research, development and production of weapons systems for the Gulf War. He returned to academic service in 1983 as president of Prairie View A&M University and served as vice president of research and graduate studies at Michigan State from 1990 to 1995.

Currently a consultant and board member in the areas of management and education, Pierre also is director of CMS Energy Inc., the White House Fellows Foundation and Association, and TracLabs Inc.

Carolyn Manning , a 1987 Notre Dame graduate and founder of the Welcome to America project in Phoenix, will receive the Family Exemplar Award recognizing distinguished community service Sept. 4.

The Welcome to America project is a response of solidarity following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which claimed the life of Manning’s brother-in-law. Acknowledging the connection the U.S. felt with those suffering throughout the world, she started the project as a way to reach out through a bridge of understanding between newly arriving refugees and her volunteer corps. Since 2001, Welcome to America has delivered furniture and household items totaling some $500,000 to 500 refugee families.

Manning earned a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University in 1992 and, since 1987, has served her community as a crisis worker, case manager and manager. Her strong belief in the goodness of humanity has aided her determination to make every individual feel welcome in society.

Bryant Young , a 1994 Notre Dame graduate and former Irish and professional football player, will receive the Harvey G. Foster Award during a halftime ceremony at the Notre Dame-San Diego State game Sept. 6. The Foster Award is given annually to a Notre Dame graduate distinguished for athletic endeavors and community service.

An All-American defensive tackle for the Irish, Young played for 13 years with the San Francisco 49ers before retiring last year with 89 career sacks. His NFL accolades include Defensive Rookie of the Year, four Pro-Bowl and All-Pro honors, selection to the 1990s All Decade Team and Comeback Player of the Year after suffering a potentially career-ending leg injury in 1999. Last year, Young’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award, the team’s most prestigious honor for inspirational and courageous play, for a record eighth time. No other player in 49ers history has won the award more than twice.

Young and his wife, Kristin (also a 1994 Notre Dame graduate), established the Young Dreams Foundation, which benefits youth organizations in San Francisco and Chicago. The supports summer youth football camps and college tuition for San Francisco Bay-area students. In addition, the Youngs have established several scholarships at Notre Dame for San Francisco and Chicago students.

For his philanthropic efforts, Young was named USA Today’s Most Caring Athlete in 2000 and was nominated as one of the 10 Most Influential African-Americans in the Bay area.

The Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., Award honoring distinguished military service will be presented to Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. “Trey” Obering , a 1973 graduate, during a halftime ceremony at the Notre Dame-Stanford game Oct. 4.

Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Obering serves as the acquisition executive for all ballistic missile defense systems and programs. He joined the Air Force in 1973 after graduating from Notre Dame’s ROTC program.

During more than three decades of service, Obering has established himself as an effective leader in engineering operations. He worked extensively with the Space Shuttle program, participating in 15 launches as a NASA orbiter project engineer and was responsible for integrating firing room launch operations.

Prior to his position in the MDA, Obering served as the mission area director for information dominance where he planned and programmed 68 joint Air Force and international programs. He also has served in Top Gun, Air-to-Air and the F-4E Replacement Training Unit.

Obering, who plans to retire from the Air Force in January, earned his master’s degree in astronautical engineering from Stanford University. His military education includes the Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Achievement Medal.

Contact: Angela Sienko, senior editor, alumni communications, 574-631-7005,

Originally published by Angela Sienko and Shannon Chapla at on August 28, 2008.