City of Pittsburgh
CLASS OF 2003
Luke Ravenstahl certainly knows what it is like to break records. While at Washington & Jefferson College, he was the captain of the football team, which was not really unusual considering his leadership abilities and enthusiastic spirit. However, it was very unusual because Ravenstahl was the place kicker, and captains are more traditionally the quarterbacks and linemen. When he shattered the team record for the most successful field goals, what he remembers most is the excitement on the faces of his teammates.
He also breaks records off the football field. Just one year after his graduation from W&J, Ravenstahl was elected as the youngest member ever of the Pittsburgh City Council. He quickly climbed the ladder, becoming City Council president in only two years. Ravenstahl says that the most difficult job in politics at all levels is getting everyone on the same page in order to make a decision with which everyone can agree; something he practiced regularly on City Council. Then, when Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O’Connor died only eight months into his term, Ravenstahl became not only the youngest mayor in Pittsburgh ’s history, but also the youngest mayor ever of a major U.S. city.
W&J taught Ravenstahl to accept the respect that he earned on the football field and also to respect the expertise of others, notably his teachers and the College administrators. He vividly remembers Dr. James West, professor of economics and business, whose ability to relate classroom activity to the real world was impressive. “We were shown what would happen if you applied the things that we learned in the classroom to a situation that you might see in the world of marketing,” says Ravenstahl. This “real-world” environment prepared Ravenstahl for his future in the world of politics.
“I’ve watched the development of excellent housing facilities and other new buildings at W&J,” says Ravenstahl. “However, I’m glad that there has no change in the excellence of education that one receives there. I’m a firm believer that W&J contributed directly to my success.”