Pittsburgh’s Urban League President Esther L. Bush Honored at Allegheny College Commencement

MEADVILLE, Pa. – May 10, 2009 – The 2009 Commencement ceremony at Allegheny College today honored the graduates of the Class of 2009 and featured an address by Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

“I charge you to love this place that has been your home for the last four years and, as it approaches its third century, help it as it sets the standard of excellence for liberal arts learning in America,” Mullen said.

In her Commencement address, Bush—whose own career has been marked by numerous firsts—drew on the charge of President Obama’s inauguration address and encouraged Allegheny’s graduates to take hold of the responsibilities required of this era and give their all to the work ahead.

“My challenge, your challenge, our challenge is to seize gladly our personal power, to own it, to embrace it, and to hold it up to the light; to know our ability to direct the course of our own lives and to help improve the lives of others; and to appreciate and be ever mindful of the responsibilities that each of us has to one another and to ourselves,” Bush said.

Bush became involved in the Urban League movement in 1980 when she accepted the position of assistant director of the Labor Education Advancement Program for the National Urban League in New York City. From there she served first as director of the New York Urban League Staten Island Branch, then as director of its Manhattan Branch. Before returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh in 1994, Bush was president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Hartford. She is the first female to serve in each of her last four positions in the Urban League movement.

During the ceremonies, honorary doctorates of humane letters were conferred upon Bush, Anthony D. Cortese, co-founder and president of Second Nature in Boston, Mass., and Myra Janco Daniels, founder, chairman and CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Fla.

The 32nd oldest college in the nation, Allegheny will celebrate its bicentennial in 2015. Counted among the nation’s top-performing colleges, Allegheny is a national liberal arts college where 2,100 students with unusual combinations of interests, skills and talents excel.

Allegheny is one of 40 colleges recognized in Loren Pope’s book Colleges That Change Lives, where he writes that the college “has a long and distinguished record of producing … future scientists and scholars.”

Allegheny ranks in the top 5 percent of schools whose graduates go on to earn Ph.D.s in all fields, in the top 4 percent in the science disciplines, and in the top 2 percent for producing chemistry Ph.D.s., according to recent data from the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium Study of the Doctorate Records File.