Alumna’s $5 Gift Transforms into Immersive Learning Fund

Feb 21, 2022

When Sara Jo Manning ’58 ’60 graduated from what was then called Peace College, she knew she wanted to support her alma mater. She began her commitment with a $5 gift each year. Decades later, Manning’s act of support grew in size and time. She established the Manning Music Fund (2007), led numerous WPU boards and most recently, she created the Manning Immersive Learning Experiences Fund. 

The Manning Immersive Learning Experiences Fund provides students with educational and cultural experiences, she said. Managed by William Peace University’s Center for Immersive Learning (CIL), the fund will expose students to new learning possibilities.

Established in 2020, CIL provides hands-on experience in an active environment. Previously, CIL has allowed students to explore ruins in Mexico and study animals on the verge of extinction. Manning is excited to see the new enterprises her fund will provide. 

The fund is focused on enriching and growing student lives, Manning says. It will also provide for an annual activity with the NC Symphony and an annual speaker or performance focused on cultural and diverse programming.

Sara Jo Manning with mentee Megan McAnany

Sara Jo Manning with mentee Megan McAnany.

“I want the students to have an opportunity to expand on what they know and what they like,” Manning said. “Students will be exposed to culture and this makes life so much happier.”

The fund, first established as the Manning Music Fund in 2007, was started to provide students with exposure to live concerts. Manning said it shifted focus to promote the Believe in Peace Strategic Plan. Part of the strategic plan focused on growing students through immersive learning.

When Manning first heard she could support this type of learning, she was “pleased to no end.” 

Manning remembers when she was a student at William Peace, she had her own “immersive experiences.” She recalls visiting the hospital for her health class and going to the symphony for her music courses. She said these experiences taught her things she couldn’t learn in a classroom.

She can’t imagine what opportunities professors and students will create with this fund. “My thoughts of possibilities are nothing compared to what the professors can come up with and provide,” Manning said. I am eager to see how they will use this opportunity.” 

Manning’s Advice for Students
Alumna Sara Jo Manning ’58, ’60, William Peace Medallion winner, has supported alumni and students for decades. How does she suggest others learn to make an impact? By learning how to grow themselves.

“The simplest thing that I can say is to take advantage of every opportunity you’re given to expand your knowledge, especially of cultural opportunities. They don’t have to be your favorite opportunities, but you should try them,” Manning said. “Learn how to recognize these opportunities and take advantage of them. In the fullness of time, you become more educated and grow a desire to give back to the community.”

Manning graduated from Peace Preparatory in 1958 and then received her Associate of Arts degree from Peace College in 1960. After WPU, Manning
attended UNC-Chapel Hill where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education and her Master of Education in Guidance. This recent gift comes after decades of dedication and philanthropy from Manning. She is a member of the William Peace Society, the university’s lifetime giving society, and now, The Heritage Society. She made WPU a beneficiary in her estate.

Manning’s first gift to WPU started a few years after graduation with a $5 annual gift. Her support grew in the years that followed, both financially and timewise. Manning served in leadership roles in the Alumni Association Board, the Board of Visitors, the Sesquicentennial Commemoration Committee, and also as a class agent and as a Pacer Partner Mentor. 

Manning’s contributions have impacted thousands of students and alumni. Her dedication to WPU was awarded in 2019 with the William Peace Medallion, the highest and most prestigious (non-academic) recognition that can be awarded by the University

Manning says her dedication to philanthropy is because of her education at WPU. Because the university encouraged her to be involved in extracurriculars, she learned how to give back outside of class. That lesson grew with her as she went to receive her bachelor’s, master’s, and then in her career. WPU gave her a foundation of faith and generosity.

“I grew up at Peace… it gave me so many opportunities,” Manning said.  “Peace has been good to me.”

To learn how you can give courageously in support of WPU, visit

Sara Jo Manning ’58 ’60

Sara Jo Manning graduated from Peace Preparatory in 1958 and Peace College in 1960 with an Associate of Arts degree. Manning also received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education and her Master of Education in Guidance from UNC-Chapel Hill

Since then, Manning has served in leadership on the Alumni Association Board, the Board of Visitors, the Sesquicentennial Commemoration Committee, and as a class agent. 

Outside of WPU, Manning worked as the Secretary to the Bishop of The (Episcopal) Diocese of North Carolina for many years before retiring in 2002. She also served on the Board of Directors for both The United Arts Council from 2000-2001 and the North Carolina Prevention of Blindness from 1981-87, and as the Vice President of the Raleigh Arts Commission in 1990. She sat on the executive committee of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and The Junior League of Raleigh once called Manning their President. Additionally, she was named an Outstanding Young Women in America.


Give Courageously to Peace

Thanks to the generosity of William Peace University supporters, current and future WPU students have access to the resources needed to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn passion into purpose.
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
a student uses a laptop on a green bench at William Peace University

Give Now

Support future Pacer success. 


Become a Corporate Partner

Find out how your organization can collaborate with Peace.


Whether you’re hoping to attend WPU or hosting an event, you’re welcome to visit WPU! 

Wedding at WPU
Phantom in downtown Raleigh

Conferences and Events

Host your conference, event, or wedding at WPU.

Location and Directions

Get directions, our address, a campus map, and hotel discount information.


Learn about WPU and all it has to offer so you can guide your students to the best fit for their next step. 

Admissions Info

Meet and connect with our Admissions team.

Schedule a Visit

Learn about our processes and schedule a visit.


Our success as an institution has always been rooted in the strength of our community. As an integral part of that community, we invite alumni to stay informed and connected. 

Alumni outside at WPU
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
Building at WPU

Get Involved

Stay connected to Peace.


Contribute to the success of future Pacers.

General Info

Read about alumni benefits.


Families are an integral part of a student’s path to WPU. Find answers to your questions here. 

Two WPU students work together on a project during class

Student Success: Why Choose WPU?

Learn about the value of an education at WPU.

Billing and Due Dates

Questions about your student’s enrollment or billing? Start here.

Current Students

Already a Pacer? Here’s your quick path to information, links, and other useful stuff.

Group of students talking
Students high-fiving each other

Current Students

Missing something? Can’t find a link? Start here.

Current Parents and Families

Is your student a Pacer? Here’s where to get information and contacts.

Future Students

Welcome to William Peace University! We offer programs for both traditional undergraduate students and online/hybrid classes through our School of Professional Studies. Find your path to WPU here.

Three WPU students walk through a brick archway on campus.
Three students discuss their work during class.
Older gentleman at a computer

First Time in College

Your WPU education will help you build practical skills for your future.

Transfer Students

Transfer up to 90 credit hours from any institution. 

Working Professionals

Enhance your existing career.

A WPU student works on a video game in the new esports and gaming lab on campus.
Woman in army green typing at computer
Two female international students


If you previously attended WPU and are ready to return, start here. 


Learn more about how to apply the GI bill.

International Students

Find out how to attend WPU.

Student Life

Whether you want to know more about on-campus events or see our residence halls, get a sense of what life is like as a student at WPU.

WPU Student on bouncy slide
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
WPU Safety Officer

Clubs, Activities and Events

Discover what’s fun at WPU.

Housing & Dining

When people say that WPU “feels like home,” we think that’s the ultimate compliment.

Safety & Security

The Office of Public Safety is committed to providing a community-friendly approach to enhancing campus safety for students, faculty and staff.

Dining room at Peace
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
Health and wellness at WPU


Cheer on your Pacers at their next home game.

Student Support Services

Find out how the WPU team supports the whole you.

Health and Wellness

Learn about physical and mental health services available to students.


WPU offers a mix of more than 30 degree programs and additional minors. Our courses are four credit hours each, and every course features immersive learning experiences.

A student in WPU's online School of Professional Studies works on her homework.
2023 Internship Showcase

Immersive Learning

Find out about WPU’s unique approach to learning.

Center for Student Success

Peer tutoring, a first-year success program, and an internship program are just part of why Pacers succeed. 


Start here to find out how to apply, visit, and learn more about WPU.

Before you apply:

Admissions team
students walking on campus
A student reviews scholarship and payment information in the financial aid office.

Connect with an Admission Couneslor

They’ll be your guide through the process.

Visit Campus

Get a feel for campus life.

Understand Costs

Find out about Financial aid and other options to pay for college.