Allegheny College has plans to honor elected officials annually with a national civility award — one each to a Republican and a Democrat.
The awards go to those who showed authentic, courageous civility in an important moment and/or those who have demonstrated steadfast respect for opposing points of view throughout their career, according to organizers. Nominations are currently being accepted for the inaugural awards to be given later this year.
“We aren’t looking for individuals who sit on the sidelines, away from the fray,” said Jim Mullen, Allegheny College’s president. “We want to honor passionate partisans on both sides of the aisle, women and men who showed noteworthy civility while continuing to fight for their beliefs and values.”
Mullen said honorees will be those who model behavior that America wants and needs to see.
“Allegheny has been working on this initiative for the past year, because our academic research shows America craves greater civility,” he said, “and because Allegheny has a long tradition of leadership in this important arena.”
The Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College, under the direction of Professor Daniel Shea, has commissioned and analyzed three national surveys to further explore the deterioration of civility in the nation’s political processes and, particularly, its impact on voters.
In Allegheny College’s March 2010 survey of 1,000 adults from across the country, 95 percent of Americans said they believe civility in politics is important for a healthy democracy, and 87 percent suggested it’s possible for people to disagree about politics respectfully.
The most recent survey in November also revealed that 63 percent of Americans feel that the tone in politics is becoming less civil.
“While politicians and experts debate the causes and impacts of the deterioration in political civility, it’s heartening to see that Americans agree coarseness and lack of respect are unacceptable,” said Shea. “This award aims to highlight individuals who are proving that it is possible to speak their mind without being vicious and mean-spirited — even in today’s highly charged political climate.”
The civility award committee will make recommendations to Mullen. Then, Mullen will determine the two winners to be announced in Washington, D.C., later this year.
All nominations will be examined by a diverse and prominent committee. The Civility Award Committee includes:
- Christian Allison, former chief executive officer of Tollgrade Communications and an Allegheny College trustee;
- Molly Corbett Broad, American Council on Education president;
- Mark Campbell, Ridge Policy Group Partner, former chief of staff to former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, and Allegheny College trustee;
- Tony Dias, Jones Day law firm partner;
- E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post columnist;
- Jane Earll, Pennsylvania state senator;
- Mark Gearan, Hobart and William Smith College president;
- Katie Janocsko, senior political science major at Allegheny College and student fellow at the Center for Political Participation;
- Chris Potter, Pittsburgh City Paper editor;
- Charles Queenan Jr., K&L Gates partner;
- Tim Reeves, Neiman Group chief executive officer, former press secretary to former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, and an Allegheny College trustee;
- Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania;
- Daniel M. Shea, Allegheny College professor and Center for Political Participation director;
- David Shribman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette vice president and executive editor;
- Eddie Taylor, Oswald Companies vice president, and chairman of Allegheny College board of trustees;
- Dan Thomasson, former editor of Scripps Howard News Service;
- Robert Woodworth, Advance Publications special adviser, former publisher and president of Kansas City Star, and an Allegheny College trustee
Allegheny College is currently accepting nominations for the 2011 Civility Award. A nomination form, along with more information on the award and Allegheny College’s work on civility in politics, can be found at allegheny.edu/civilityaward.