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September 28, 2000

OBITUARY: Steven D. Manners

Friends and colleagues of the late Steven D. Manners, a researcher and administrator at Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) for the last 26 years, are invited to a memorial gathering on Oct. 2, 2-5 p.m., in the William Pitt Union's Kurtzman Room.

Manners, of Penn Hills, died Sept. 15, 2000, of complications of Fourniers' gangrene. He was 49.

Hired as a programmer and analyst at UCSUR in 1974, Manners eventually rose to the rank of assistant director. But according to UCSUR director Richard Schulz, Manners's job titles did not fully convey his contributions to the center. UCSUR is Pitt's major survey research center, facilitating interdisciplinary applied and basic research in the social and behavioral sciences.

"Steve was instrumental in building and running the center. He was wonderfully effective in working with faculty and he was a great recruiter. He identified and trained many of the talented researchers now working at UCSUR," Schulz said.

"He was also a very effective manager, with the rare gift of being gentle yet firm and getting the best job performances out of people. Steve was a wonderful sounding board, too. My interactions with him were always therapeutic because he provided a sense of perspective, direction and enthusiasm about whatever challenges we were facing." Vijai Singh, Pitt associate chancellor and former UCSUR director, called Manners an excellent survey researcher and manager of large databases, who also demonstrated great people skills.

"He had this extraordinary ability to get people to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects, basically by showing them that working together was in their own best interests," Singh said.

Manners negotiated with funding agencies and lobbied for money to hire undergraduate students to work on UCSUR projects. "He wanted undergraduates to have the opportunity to gain research experience while getting paid for it," Singh said.

"But never did Steve request anything for himself," Singh added. "Given all that he was doing for the center, he could have asked for higher pay or perks like more money for travel, but he didn't." Manners was a positive person who never complained about anything – including his own health problems, said Singh and Schulz, who worked with Manners for 22 and 17 years, respectively, but learned only recently that Manners was diabetic.

"The University has lost a gem of a guy. Personally, I've lost one of my best friends," Singh said.

Manners earned a B.S. degree in biological sciences and chemistry from Pitt in 1973 and did post-baccalaureate studies in computer science here between 1974 and 1976 before earning an M.S. in radiation health physics from Pitt in 1980.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Manners, and a sister, Katherine Manners, of Oakland.

Memorial contributions may be made to Pan-Icarian Brotherhood, Chapter Icaros, 749 East Railroad Ave., Verona, Pa. 15147.

– Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 33 Issue 3

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