Award Ceremony – National Press Club, February 26, 2013
February 26, 2013 – One of the nation’s oldest liberal-arts colleges today honored two leading U.S. Senators with the second annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life. Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr. awarded the 2013 prize to United States Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“Allegheny College is honored to award its 2013 Prize for Civility in Public Life to Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Lindsey Graham,” said President Mullen. “Two proud partisans, who strive for civility in America’s most difficult political battlefields. And in doing so, challenge all of us to reflect more seriously about what civility really means.
“They have been true to their respective beliefs. They have shaped both the politics and the policy of their time. They have found joy in the give and take of the arena, while respecting the inherent dignity of the elected office and those who hold it.”
Feinstein and Graham each cited their respect for the other in accepting the award.
“I can sit down and work out the most difficult problem with Lindsey because he will listen, that’s important,” said Senator Feinstein.
“I really respect Dianne Feinstein,” said Senator Graham. “She comes from a state totally different than South Carolina. But we define ourselves, not by our differences, but by what we have in common.”
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.
“As they join in accepting the Allegheny Prize, they stand opposed on one of the most significant and polarizing issues of our time – that of gun control,” said President Mullen. “And yet, they stand together, not only in receiving this Prize, but in their shared commitment to engage that issue with passion, deep conviction and respect for each other.”
“The one thing about being civil is, it doesn’t mean you don’t have passion,” said Graham. “But I never hesitate about calling Dianne because she is a problem solver by nature.”
“Do Americans want a United States Senate and a House of Representatives that can really do their business or do they want one that is so full of themselves, so polarized and so twisted with partisanship, that their ratings are in single digits?” asked Feinstein. “We have a big job on our hands to be able to restore civility.”
Also providing remarks in today’s event was former Pennsylvania Governor and the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, a civility champion and friend and advisor to Allegheny College.
“Democracy is not only what you say as you express your point of view, but how you say it,” Ridge said. “I think that’s at the epicenter of what Allegheny College is trying to demonstrate and celebrate as we honor the two Senators.”
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.