Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr. Delivers Keynote Address On Civility At Brookings Institution

Allegheny has “lit a candle in the darkness,” says Brookings Senior Fellow William Galston

View President Mullen's full keynote address at

WASHINGTON, DC – October 13, 2011 – Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr. gave a keynote address last week at the Brookings Institution, on “The Importance of Civility in Public Discourse.”

The Brookings Institution is one of the nation’s premier public-policy think tanks.

In his address, Mullen highlighted Allegheny’s work, through its nationally acclaimed Center for Political Participation, under the leadership of Political Science professor Daniel Shea, to shed light on the fact that the incivility of the nation’s political rhetoric is turning more and more young people away from public service. More voices are needed to shine a bright light on those public servants who share their passionate views in a civil manner, Mullen said.

“This is our opportunity,” said Mullen. “Critiquing incivility is important, but we will not change the environment unless we put just as much energy into identifying and encouraging those who practice civility. Yet such positive voices are almost absent from our political arena. Allegheny will do its part to fill that void. We will shine a bright light on civility – and we will call on others to do the same.”

Allegheny College will soon announce the recipients of the first Allegheny Award for Civility in Public Life, an award that will honor partisans on both sides of the ideological spectrum who show noteworthy civility, while continuing to fight passionately for their beliefs and values. The award was announced early this year, and the first recipients will be named this fall.

“Under President Mullen’s leadership, the themes of civic engagement and public service have been front and center at Allegheny,” said William Galston, Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at Brookings. “The civic function in higher education in America is crucial, but much neglected. It is easier to light a candle than to curse the darkness – Jim Mullen has just finished describing how in his college he and his colleagues have lit a candle.”

The full keynote address can be viewed at and a complete copy of the Remarks Prepared for Delivery can be found here.

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 will celebrate its 200th anniversary of learning at its picturesque campus in 2015.

About the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College
In October 2002 Allegheny College established the Center for Political Participation, a national center dedicated to encouraging greater political involvement among young people by fostering an appreciation for the vital link between an engaged, active citizenry and a healthy democracy. Seeking new strategies and mechanisms for promoting political participation, the Center has established programs for three audiences – Allegheny students (campus activities), scholars nationwide (scholarly research) and citizens of the wider community (educational outreach). In November 2007, the Center founded the Soapbox Alliance, a group of institutions that are committed to ending the practice of holding closed campaign events in campus facilities. Former President Clinton endorsed the Soapbox Alliance in a speech he made at Allegheny on April 19, 2008.