Allegheny College in Pennsylvania has named Vice President Joseph Biden and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) the recipients of its fifth annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life, which recognizes public figures who have demonstrated civility throughout their career or at an important moment in time.
In a press release announcing the award, Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr. said, “Today we are beginning to see the ominous short-term implications of incivility – excessive conflict and even violence. It is our belief that incivility sets the stage for such action. We are seeing that civility is more important now than perhaps ever before.”
In naming Biden and McCain, Mullen noted, “We recognize Sen. McCain, who during a fiery town hall meeting while campaigning for President in 2008, took back the microphone to correct the misrepresentation of then-Senator Obama. And we salute Vice President Biden, who when announcing in 2015 that he would not seek the Presidency, chose that moment to say, ‘I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemy. They are our opposition.’”
The annual prize recognizes one figure from each side of the aisle who argues passionately and respectfully for his or her beliefs. Allegheny College has long been known for its tradition of passionate but civil debate, and the prize was created in 2011 to reinforce this practice.
Past winners include journalists David Brooks and Mark Shields, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the “Women of the Senate,” and Montgomery (AL) Police Chief Kevin Murphy and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA).
ACE and Allegheny College have a long history of working together on higher education issues. Mullen served as ACE Board chair in 2014-15, and ACE President Molly Corbett Broad is on the civility prize selection committee.