Ward, Christine

Christine WardState of Pennsylvania
Judge, Common Pleas Court
CLASS OF 1979

The Honorable Christine Ward entered Washington & Jefferson College at an interesting crossroads in the College’s history. “The matriculation of women had just reached the level that the assigned female dorm, Marshall Hall, was filled,” she explains. “So my class of freshman women was housed on the third floor of Alexander Hall above two floors of upper-class, independent men. Needless to say, it such was a combustible combination that by mid-term, it had produced a record number of academic insufficiency notices among the group of freshman women. We did have fun.”

Insufficiency notes aside, Ward proved to be an exceptional scholar and athlete. She double-majored in economics and political science and eventually was chosen as a finalist for a coveted Rhodes scholarship. Ward was also a member of the debate team, which finished fifth nationally during her time at W&J. Some of Ward’s best memories, however, involved the camaraderie she experienced while playing basketball on the first women’s team fielded by W&J. “I always loved riding the bus home from away basketball games with my teammates,” she recalls. “It was a great time to laugh and joke —to bond.”

Ward’s bond with her teammates and the W&J community remained strong even after she received her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and went on to practice law for 20 years. Her talent led Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to appoint her to an interim seat on the Court of Common Pleas, where she eventually was elected to a 10-year term. In the midst of her success, Ward frequently returns to W&J to serve on various panels during Homecoming weekend and sometimes even trades in her judge’s robe for a pair of sneakers to cheer on her classmates in the alumni basketball game.

Ward’s close ties to W&J have kept her up-to-date with changes the College has undergone throughout the years. “Change is difficult,” she says. “But the progress that has been made to the physical structure of campus since I attended W&J is astounding.”