Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr. Delivers Keynote Address on Civility at Brookings Institution

Originally posted: October 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – 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 on the college’s Civility website and a complete copy of the Remarks Prepared for Delivery can be found here.

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