Feb. 22, 2013 – One of the nation’s oldest liberal-arts colleges will honor two leading U.S. Senators with the second annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life. Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr. will award the 2013 prize to United States Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. at 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 26.
“We will give the 2013 prize to Senators Feinstein and Graham because they strive for civility in the heart of the political arena,” said Mullen. “Over its nearly 200 years, Allegheny has seen many dark hours in American politics. This is one of those hours – and so we felt it important this year to shine a light upon civility where it is most difficult to find – and where it is needed most: At the epicenter of American political conflict.
“Senators Feinstein and Graham are proud partisans who battle vigorously on the most contentious issues of the day,” Mullen continued. “They fight the hard fights, take on the big issues and strive mightily to win. But they do not seek to win at all costs. They each have long records, built over years, of doing battle with deep respect for the political process. And with abiding civility toward those they engage. They seek to do battle without personally attacking their foes. And without ever closing their eyes to opportunities to agree with their adversaries – even as they fight tenaciously for the positions they hold dear.
“If all of the central figures in U.S. politics were to emulate the best instincts of Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham, remarkable things would happen. We would get more difficult work done. There would be greater respect for those who enter public life. And more people would be inclined to participate in our two-party system of politics. We wouldn’t stop fighting. But conflict in our democracy would be prosecuted in a healthier and more productive way. That is the example we need today. And that is why Allegheny College will be proud to award the Prize for Civility in Public Life to two most worthy recipients: Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham.”
The Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life was created in 2011 to annually recognize two political figures, one liberal and one conservative, who argue passionately but with civility for their beliefs. The inaugural award was bestowed at the National Press Club in February 2012 to political journalists David Brooks and Mark Shields, in recognition of their longstanding record of civil commentary – and of the extraordinary impact that political commentators have on civility in U.S. political debate.
In the second year of the prize – and as the nation is deeply embroiled in hotly contested polarizing debates – the College judged it important to highlight civility at the epicenter of contention in U.S. politics.
“Our winners this year could not be more different,” Mullen explained. “Senator Feinstein is a proud Democrat from the heart of American liberalism in San Francisco. And Senator Graham is a proud Republican son of the conservative South.
“They battle hard and fight tenaciously for their partisan views,” said Mullen. “Along the way, both have said things we wish they had said otherwise. Based on my conversations with these extraordinarily thoughtful leaders, I’m sure both have similar reflections.
“But if our standard was civil perfection – we could not choose people who are combatants in the arena of the day. Nor is that a uniquely modern reality. History teaches that no elected official who has made a significant difference on important matters of state has wholly avoided moments when passion or political reality has led to some measure of incivility. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson – who demonstrated extraordinary civility to Allegheny College nearly 200 years ago – is a prime example of someone who modeled our best instincts of civility – yet with moments where he fell short of those standards he held dear.”
“Our focus this year was not on finding the two or three moments that could preclude every potential winner in the arena – but rather to find a body of work that underscores what civility looks like where we need it most. We have found that in Senators Feinstein and Graham.”
President Mullen will lead the awarding ceremony at the National Press Club on February 26 at 10 a.m. Senators Feinstein and Graham will receive the Prize and offer remarks. Also participating will be former Pennsylvania Governor and the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, a friend of and advisor to Allegheny College and champion of civility.
For more information about the Prize for Civility in Public Life, please visit http://sites.allegheny.edu/civilityaward/.
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 and will celebrate its 200th anniversary of learning at its picturesque campus in 2015.