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Alumni Weekend 2016 - Alumni Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony to honor new inductees. Present for the ceremony were recipients Grace Thompson Leong, AS88; Tara Beckerer Manal, AS91, 93M; Leo Strine Jr, AS85; and Marna Cupp Whittington, AS68 The welcome was given by Anne Giacoma Barretta, AS83, President of the University of Delaware Alumni Association (UDAA),  with additional remarks by Rebecca Jaeger, AS16 and Warner Award Winner, and Nancy Targett, UD President.  - (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)


Photo by Evan Krape

Alumni Weekend ceremony honors four accomplished Blue Hens

Four University of Delaware graduates were recognized for their professional and public service achievements as the newest members of the UD Alumni Wall of Fame.

Grace Thompson Leong (Class of 1988), Tara Beckerer Manal (Class of 1991, who also received a master’s degree in 1993), Leo E. Strine Jr. (Class of 1985) and Marna Cupp Whittington (Class of 1968), all graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, were honored at the 2016 Alumni Wall of Fame induction ceremony hosted by the UD Alumni Association (UDAA) on June 4.

Established in 1984, the Wall of Fame features the names of more than 250 accomplished alumni.

“The Wall of Fame serves as a legacy for our exceptional alumni,” Nancy Targett, then president of the University, said when the 2016 inductees were announced. “It’s an absolute honor to have the opportunity to add more names to it each and every year.

“The honorees we’re celebrating have established indelible legacies in their communities, with their colleagues and at this University. We’re very proud of their accomplishments and equally proud that they’re carrying on the Blue Hen tradition of excellence.” 

Grace T. Leong

Leong, who earned her bachelor’s degree in communication at UD in 1988, is CEO and partner in Hunter Public Relations, which she founded in 1989 with Barbara Hunter.

The New York City-based firm provides strategic marketing communications counsel to national consumer brands and chief marketing officers for such Fortune 100 companies as Kraft and Johnson and Johnson. Hunter Public Relations, which began with three employees, now operates across North America and in Toronto and the United Kingdom and is regularly ranked among the top 20 consumer-focused public relations firms in the U.S.

Leong has won numerous industry awards including, just two days before the UD Wall of Fame ceremony, the John W. Hill Award for lifetime achievement from the Public Relations Society of America’s New York chapter. She regularly provides guidance and internship opportunities to UD students.

Leong has been a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council since 2009, the last two years as its chair, and also serves on the advisory board for the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. In 2013, she received the UDAA Outstanding Alumni Award.

“Thanks to UD’s outstanding learning environment, I discovered my passion for communication,” Leong said. “There is no doubt that my years at UD were my most formative, and I am grateful for the love, learning and pride of place this University has shared with me.”

Tara B. Manal

Manal earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1991 and a master’s degree in physical therapy (PT) in 1993, both from UD, and now is director of clinical services and residency training and an associate professor in the University’s Department of Physical Therapy.

The department’s graduate physical therapy program recently was ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 2017 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools.

Most of Manal’s career has been spent as a primary instructor for PT with a focus on spine management, emergency response and psychosocial aspects of health care. In addition to her dedication to students, she has published 15 monographs and chapters, 22 peer and non-peer reviewed articles and has presented at more than 150 national and international conferences and meetings.

She has won numerous professional honors, including the Signe Brunnstrom Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching and the Lucy Blair Service Award from the American Physical Therapy Association, as well as the UD physical therapy alumni award, and has been invited by Arcadia University to be the ninth annual Charles M. Magistro Lecturer.

“My undergraduate training in psychology and Spanish provided a well-rounded academic foundation to build my career as a physical therapist clinician educator,” Manal said. “I would never have achieved so much in my career without the excellent education I received from UD and the mentorship from this institution and its dedicated faculty and staff.”

Leo E. Strine Jr.

Strine, who is chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations in 1985.

Before being named chief justice in 2014, he was chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery beginning in 2011, after serving as a vice chancellor since 1998.

Strine speaks at law conferences and institutes across the country, including the Tulane Corporate Law Institute, New York University Center for Law and Business and Duke University. He has authored many articles on business law in such publications as Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review and University of Pennsylvania Law Review. He holds long-standing adjunct teaching positions at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, where he continues to teach corporate law.

He has been awarded the Order of the First State and UD’s Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement. Since 2005, Strine has been named one of the nation’s top lawyers and judges by Lawdragon magazine, and in 2006 he was selected as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

“Luckily for me, I came to a university, and in particular a department of political science, where faculty connected the most important intellectual traditions to the way our society operates,” Strine said. “The fact that they took an interest in me, helped me gain confidence and opened doors for me was critical to any success I have had in my long career in public service.”

Marna C. Whittington

Whittington, who graduated from UD in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and later earned master’s and doctoral degrees in quantitative methods from the University of Pittsburgh, was CEO of Allianz Global Investors Capital from 2001 until her retirement in 2012.

Early in her career, she served as budget director and secretary of finance for the state of Delaware and later as vice president of finance and executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania.

As managing partner of Miller, Anderson and Sherrerd in the mid-1990s, she directed the sale of the business to Morgan Stanley Asset Management, where she successfully integrated the two firms and later became a managing director and chief operating officer.

Whittington is a member of UD’s President’s Leadership Council and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies Board of Trustees and is the Middlebury College board chair. She also sits on the board of directors of Macy’s, Phillips 66, Oaktree Capital Group, Afghan Women’s Council, Cloudnexa, Strategic Partnerships LLC and the Philadelphia Contributionship.

“I was attracted to the University because of the beautiful campus, its reputation combined with its affordability and a very charming and persuasive dean of admissions, Edward Ott,” Whittington said of her first visit in 1964. “The University proved to be so much more than my initial impressions. It prepared me well for graduate school and provided a foundation for a very interesting and satisfying professional and personal life.”

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