Former quarterback and College of Communication and Information alumnus Peyton Manning surprised John Haas, director and associate professor of communication studies, with a million-dollar endowment this morning.
The reveal included a video of Manning thanking Haas and the presentation of the endowment plaque by Michael Wirth, dean of College of Communications and Information, and other faculty.
“I was completely stunned,” Haas said. “To be honored by a former student, who has enjoyed so much success in his life and has pretty much always excelled in almost everything he's done ... I can't imagine being more flattered and honored to be recognized by someone like that.”
As its name suggests, the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment used to give students in the college an experience-based education.
“The idea is to provide students with outside-the-classroom experiences, including study abroad, field trips, internships and other experiential opportunities,” Wirth said. “It will transform the class.”
Haas, who has always encouraged experiential learning in his classes, emphasized the need for experience outside the classroom.
“I think it really makes the case that academics are important, that people from all walks of life recognize the importance of education and helping student advance towards their goals,” Haas said.
“It's one thing for a professor to talk about it in class, but it's another thing entirely to experience that thing outside the classroom that will open your eyes to opportunities. That is what Peyton's gift is going to help us do.”
Haas was Manning's faculty advisor during the former quarterback's years as an undergraduate and graduate student at UT. Though it has been almost 20 years since Manning attended UT, the two have kept in contact and maintained a close relationship.
“It's all about the relationship between the faculty member and a student,” Wirth said. “It's about that relationship and how a faculty member impacted a student's life and how they continued to stay in contact over the years.
“Peyton is a tremendous ambassador for the university and for the College of Communication and Information. We really appreciate his willingness to invest in us and keep Dr. Haas's legacy in perpetuity in terms of supporting students.”