Press Releases

For Immediate Release
September 5, 2017

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Tricia Harris, | 717.720.5447

New "Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life in Pennsylvania" to be Awarded at 33rd Annual Chamber Dinner

Event will mark first time this distinct honor is awarded in PA

In the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry’s highly anticipated 33rd Annual Chamber Dinner, our organization is proud to announce a new element to the evening’s program that will recognize two Pennsylvanians who have risen above the growing trend of partisan rhetoric to effectively communicate in a civil manner. This year, the PA Chamber will partner with Allegheny College to present – for the first time – the Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life in Pennsylvania.

Created in 2011, the national award – which is presented annually at the National Press Club – recognizes two public figures on the national stage, one liberal and one conservative, who argue passionately but with civility for their beliefs. This year is the first that Allegheny College will be issuing the award at the state level. Former Gov. Tom Ridge – who has served as a longtime advisor to Allegheny College on the Prize and has long championed for civility in politics – will also attend the dinner and help to present the award to the Pennsylvania honorees.

“The PA Chamber is honored to partner with Allegheny College to present the ‘Prize for Civility in Public Life in Pennsylvania’ award at our annual Chamber Dinner,” said PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr. “At a time when heightened, partisan political rhetoric is becoming more of the norm and bipartisanship is becoming increasingly rare, it is more important than ever to highlight examples of civility. This year’s honorees perfectly embody the notion that two individuals can have vastly different points of view on an issue and still communicate in a civil and thoughtful manner.”

“Civility is part of Pennsylvania’s DNA,” said Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr. “The Founding Fathers who gathered in Philadelphia to discuss Independence had incredible differences. But they argued those differences with civility. That’s what the Prize is all about – proud partisans who compete in the political arena with a commitment to civil discourse. They fight to win. But they do not seek to demonize their opponents to do so. At Allegheny, we believe the systematic demonization of opponents is one of the great dangers facing our democracy today. We are delighted to be partnering with the PA Chamber to bring this important Prize to Pennsylvania.”

“The tone and tenor of the conversations in Washington – and, frankly, in many centers of government across the country – have become increasingly more poisonous,” said Gov. Ridge. “Civility is vanishing, and the consequences are great. The Prize seeks to celebrate civility when we see it rather than lament its absence, in hopes that others will be inspired to hold themselves to a higher standard. Allegheny College has successfully established this Prize at the national level. Now we are pleased to bring it home to Pennsylvania, in partnership with the PA Chamber.” 

Previous winners of the national award include: Senators Diane Feinstein, D-California, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who were recognized in 2013 for their efforts to exemplify civility while leading debate in some of the most contentious issues of that time; the “Women of the U.S. Senate,” who were honored in 2014 for banding together to help end a government shutdown and creating a more civil climate in Washington, D.C.; and in 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, were recognized for the powerful moments of civility they displayed during modern presidential campaigns. The 2017 national award honored the remarkable friendship of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia.

The 33rd Annual Chamber Dinner will take place on Monday, Sept. 18 at the Hershey Lodge. For more information about the dinner and to register, visit To learn more about the Prize for Civility in Public Life, visit Allegheny College’s website. Additional information regarding media credentials will be announced in the coming weeks.


The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.