"Peyton Manning is one of the greatest athletes of our time, but he is also an outstanding communicator and a role model for everyone with whom he comes into contact," said Mike Wirth, dean of the College of Communication and Information. “We presented the Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award to Peyton in recognition of all that he has done off the football field to give back to society.”
Manning earned a bachelor's degree in speech communication from UT in 1997. He was the top graduate in his major.
"Peyton was an exceptional student. He was focused, actively engaged in the major and determined to succeed," said John Haas, director of the School of Communication Studies and former academic adviser to Manning. "We have no better ambassador for communication programs or representative for our unit than Peyton Manning."
In addition to his duties with the Colts, Manning also serves as president of the PeyBack Foundation, which he founded in 1999. The organization helps disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership growth and opportunities. The foundation focuses its efforts in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana.
Manning has won numerous awards both on and off the field, including the 2006 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence.
As a student, Manning was recognized as a three-time Academic All-American. Following his senior season at UT, he won the Sullivan Award. The award honors the nation's top amateur athlete based on character, leadership, athletic ability and the ideals of amateurism.
The Donald G. Hileman Award is named for the first permanent dean of the College of Communications, the forerunner to the College of Communication and Information. The award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college's 25th anniversary. It is given to college alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the field of communication and information.
The College of Communication and Information is made up of four schools: the School of Advertising and Public Relations, the School of Communication Studies, the School of Information Sciences, and the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. The college offers four undergraduate majors, two master's degrees and is home to one of the oldest doctoral programs in communication and information in the southeastern United States.