2016 Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life

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The fifth annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life was awarded to Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain. These two political giants – one from the left and one from the right – have demonstrated throughout the course of their distinguished careers the benefits of civil behavior, and who showed remarkable moments of civility during recent Presidential campaigns.

Civility Prize Ceremony – June 7, 2016

Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr. and Governor Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and a 2012 Allegheny College honorary degree recipient, awarded the 2016 Prize at an event on June 7, 2016 in Washington.

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In The News

christian-science-monitor-logo-300x300Joe Biden and John McCain: How an unusual friendship survives Washington

BRIDGING DIVIDES: Vice President Joe Biden and Senator McCain, who won an award for civility this week, give a poignant picture of how Washington can work.

“Has civility in public life become so rare that notable practitioners merit a prize? That thought came to mind this week as Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona were honored for just that – a decades-long friendship marked by loyalty and good cheer, despite at-times sharp partisan differences.”


June 9, 2016 – Read More: CSMonitor.com

msnbc-logo-600x600Political Civility In Decline

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton forego formalities as the general election campaign begins. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and James Mullen of Allegheny College discuss the erosion of civility in politics.”


June 8, 2016 – MSNBC.com

PGLogoTwitter_2_10_12-100x100Allegheny College awards civility prize to Joe Biden and John McCain

“In an election year notable for its incivility, Allegheny College is recognizing two prominent partisans with its Prize for Civility in Public Life. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., argue passionately but civilly for their opposing beliefs.”


June 8, 2016 – Read More: Post-Gazette.com

On Vice President Joe Biden and Civility

by Senator John McCain

medium.com/@SenatorJohnMcCain


On Senator John McCain and Civility

by Vice President Joe Biden

medium.com/the-white-house


President Mullen and Governor Ridge visit The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel


April 8, 2016 – SiriusXM POTUS Channel – The Michael Smerconish Program

time-logo-whiteonred-100x100Former Gov. Tom Ridge: Civility in Politics Matters More Than Ever

“While it is easy to lament incivility, I prefer the approach taken by Allegheny College, who this week named Biden and McCain the winners of its annual Prize for Civility in Public Life. … As this presidential campaign pushes toward November, I hope Americans demand more out of their candidates. Not just better ideas, but a better approach. A civil approach. Because only then can we truly roll up our sleeves and get to work on the critical issues of the day.”


April 8, 2016 – Read More: Time.com

PGLogoTwitter_2_10_12-100x100Allegheny College recognizes Biden, McCain for civility

“In an election season particularly permeated by headlines focused on barbs, slams, threats and accusations, two politicians have been singled out for their civility. In fact, Allegheny College this morning announced the awardees for its annual “Prize for Civility in Public Life.” To be honored this summer are Vice President Joseph Biden, a Democrat, and Senator John McCain, a Republican.”


April 7, 2016 – Read More: Post-Gazette.com

About The 2016 Civility Prize

In choosing Vice President Biden and Senator McCain, Allegheny College identified two proud partisans who never lose sight of what governing is all about.

biden-300x300Vice President Joe Biden

When announcing in 2015 that he would not seek the Presidency, Vice President Biden chose that moment to say, “I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemy. They are our opposition.”

Joe Biden: We have to end “divisive partisan politics” – October 21, 2015


“John McCain has been my friend for nearly 40 years. I have nothing but admiration for him. No disagreement, no matter how big, ever changes that. I want to thank President James Mullen and Governor Tom Ridge for this award, and inspiring a new generation of public servants to serve the country with conviction and civility.”

— Vice President Joe Biden

mccain-300x300Senator John McCain

During a fiery town hall meeting while campaigning for President in 2008, Senator McCain took back the microphone to correct a misrepresentation of then-Senator Barack Obama.

McCain Counters Obama ‘Arab’ Question – October 11, 2008


“I’m honored to be recognized by Allegheny College and thank President James Mullen and my friend Governor Tom Ridge for this distinction. I have always believed that our right to disagree and debate about the challenges facing our nation should never come at the expense of showing respect for one another. As the public’s dissatisfaction with government continues to grow, I believe Allegheny College’s commitment to promoting civility in political discourse is critical to inspire future generations of Americans to pursue careers in public service.”

— Senator John McCain

mullen-300x300“These two powerful moments stand in stark contrast to what we have witnessed in recent weeks and months on the campaign trail. Today we are beginning to see the ominous short-term implications of incivility – excessive conflict and even violence. It is our belief that incivility sets the stage for such action. We are seeing that civility is more important now than perhaps ever before.”

— Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr.

ridge-300x300“Their remarkable careers speak to their ability to work collegially and effectively on both sides of the aisle and to rebuke the notion that Republicans and Democrats can’t get things done together. Given today’s political climate – and the need to shine a bright light on civility where it can be found – I cannot imagine two public servants more worthy of the Allegheny Prize.”

— Governor Tom Ridge

Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr. on the 2016 Civility Prize

News Release – June 7, 2016

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Vice President Joe Biden And Senator John McCain Awarded 2016 Civility Prize From Allegheny College

“Their examples of civility are more important than ever right now”

June 7, 2016 (Washington, DC) – The fifth annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life was awarded today to Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain at an afternoon ceremony in the nation’s capital.

“These two political giants – one from the left and one from the right – regard civility to be a fundamental obligation of leadership in our democracy. And they have aspired mightily to honor that obligation – throughout their careers, and even in the cauldron of presidential politics,” said Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr., who, with Governor Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and a 2012 Allegheny College honorary degree recipient, awarded the Prize to Biden and McCain today at a ceremony at the The University Club in Washington D.C.

“Their examples of civility are more important than ever right now,” said Mullen. “This year’s prize reminds America, and particularly our young people, that there are political leaders who still see the value of civility in politics and who demonstrate it when it matters most – in the heat of battle. We recognize Sen. McCain, who during a fiery town hall meeting while campaigning for President in 2008, took back the microphone to correct the misrepresentation of then-Senator Obama. And we salute Vice President Biden, who when announcing in 2015 that he would not seek the Presidency, chose that moment to say, ‘I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemy. They are our opposition.’”

“These two powerful moments stand in stark contrast to what we too often witness in our political debate today,” Mullen said. “We are beginning to see the ominous implications of incivility – poisonous demonization of adversaries, and even violence at political events. It is our belief at Allegheny College that incivility lights the fuse for such consequences. It is more important than ever right now for leaders to regard civility as an essential obligation of leadership. And Vice President Biden and Sen. McCain are models for us all.”

In choosing Vice President Biden and Senator McCain, Gov. Ridge said Allegheny has identified two proud partisans who never lose sight of what governing is all about. “Ask anyone who has sat across a table from Joe Biden or John McCain and they’ll tell you the same thing – that these are men of principle who hold strong to their beliefs and will argue passionately in defense of their positions. But they also understand that one need not demonize their opposition in order to effectively govern,” said Ridge. “Their remarkable careers speak to their ability to work collegially and effectively on both sides of the aisle and to rebuke the notion that Republicans and Democrats can’t get things done together. Given today’s political climate – and the need to shine a bright light on civility where it can be found – I cannot imagine two public servants more worthy of the Allegheny Prize.”

Allegheny College is one of the nation’s oldest liberal-arts colleges, with a long tradition of passionate but civil debate. Deeply troubled by the rise of incivility in U.S. politics, and its negative impacts on political participation, particularly among young people, the College created the Civility Prize in 2011 to highlight and reinforce the unheralded public figures who advance civility.

“John McCain has been my friend for nearly 40 years. I have nothing but admiration for him. No disagreement, no matter how big, ever changes that,” Vice President Biden said. “I want to thank Allegheny College for this award, particularly President James Mullen and Governor Tom Ridge, and for their commitment to inspiring a new generation of public servants to serve the country with conviction and civility.”

“I’m honored to be recognized by Allegheny College and thank President James Mullen and my friend Governor Tom Ridge for this distinction,” said Senator McCain. “I have always believed that our right to disagree and debate about the challenges facing our nation should never come at the expense of showing respect for one another. As the public’s dissatisfaction with government continues to grow, I believe Allegheny College’s commitment to promoting civility in political discourse is critical to inspire future generations of Americans to pursue careers in public service.”

The Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life annually recognizes two political figures, one from the left and one from the right, who argue passionately but respectfully for their beliefs. Now in its fifth year, the Prize seeks to honor politicians who have demonstrated steadfast civility throughout their career, or have shown authentic, courageous civility at a particularly important moment in time. Previous winners include:

  • The inaugural award was bestowed at the National Press Club in 2012 to political journalists David Brooks and Mark Shields, in recognition of their longstanding record of civil commentary.
  • In 2013, the College awarded the Prize to Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Lindsey Graham (R) for their efforts to exemplify civility while leading debate in some of the most contentious issues of our time.
  • The “Women of the Senate” were honored in 2014 for banding together to help end a government shutdown and creating a more civil climate in Washington, D.C.
  • In 2015, in recognition of Allegheny’s bicentennial celebration, noted historian Douglas Brinkley helped choose former Montgomery (AL) Police Chief Kevin Murphy for taking off his badge and giving it to Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) as an act of contrition for the police department’s treatment of Lewis in 1961.

About Allegheny College

Allegheny College is a national liberal arts college where 2,100 students with unusual combinations of interests and talents develop highly valued abilities to explore critical issues from multiple perspectives. A selective residential college in Meadville, Pa., Allegheny is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives” and is also featured in “Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That Is Best for You” and Peterson’s “Competitive Colleges, 400 Colleges That Attract the Best and the Brightest,” among many other guidebooks. Allegheny is one of the nation’s oldest liberal-arts colleges, celebrating its 200th anniversary of learning at its picturesque campus in 2015.

News Release – April 7, 2016

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Vice President Joseph Biden And Senator John McCain To Be Awarded 2016 Civility Prize By Allegheny College

American Political Leaders Recognized for Important Moments of Civility in Presidential Politics and Throughout Distinguished Careers

April 7, 2016 (Meadville, PA) – The fifth annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life will be awarded to Vice President Joseph Biden and Senator John McCain. These two political giants – one from the left and one from the right – have demonstrated throughout the course of their distinguished careers the benefits of civil behavior, and who showed remarkable moments of civility during recent Presidential campaigns.

Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr. and Governor Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and a 2012 Allegheny College honorary degree recipient, will award the 2016 Prize at an event this summer in Washington.

“I am increasingly fearful that the tone of our politics – particularly this presidential campaign – and the seeming inability to get anything done in Washington is driving young people away from interest in political careers,” said President Mullen. “I hear it every day on the Allegheny campus from young people who are deeply committed to service and citizenship. They are fulfilling that passion for service in very important ways like the Peace Corps, but not looking toward elective office as a goal. I fear that this is perhaps the most insidious long-term impact of the behavior we are seeing on the campaign trail– it will drive a generation of talented young people away from active engagement in American politics.

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About the Honorees

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Vice President Joe Biden