Former Pennsylvania State Senator to Speak at W&J

Created: January 28, 2016  |  Last Updated: January 16, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged: ,

WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 28, 2016) — Former Pennsylvania State Senator Michael Dawida will present “Who is Going to be Our Next President & Why” at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) Thursday, Jan. 28th at 7 p.m. in the Media Room of The Commons on the W&J campus.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the J. Robert Maxwell ’43 Visiting Scholar Series.

“We chose Michael Dawida as a Maxwell scholar because students and community members alike can benefit from his experience in state politics,” said Michael Lewis, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at W&J. “He is currently teaching a course on the politics, philosophy, ethics, and business of election campaigns, and he will discuss these topics in his public lecture. These are timely issues as we’re on the verge of the first presidential primaries and of the general election later this year.”

Dawida, currently the Executive Director of Scenic Pittsburgh, has dedicated more than 30 years of his career to public service. First elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1979, Dawida sponsored the Clean Indoor Air Act, which aimed to regulate smoking in public places. At the time, the act passed by only one vote, but today the act has effectively expanded to restricting smoking in restaurants and bars.

In 1989, Dawida was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate where he served as state senator until 1995. During this time, Dawida sponsored the Pennsylvania Food Donor Act to help restaurants donate leftovers to food banks and shelters; and following the national model for organ donation legislation, he introduced the Pennsylvania Organ Donation Act, which encourages people to register as organ donors when applying for a driver’s license.

From 1996 to 2000, Dawida was elected to the Allegheny County Board of Commissioners, serving as chairman from 1998-2000. In this role, he revamped the County Pension System, established the Airport Authority, and implemented the Allegheny County 911 System. He also oversaw several billion dollars in development projects in Pittsburgh, including Heinz  Field, PNC Park, the David Lawrence Convention Center, and the Waterfront in Homestead.

In addition to his current role with Scenic Pittsburgh, Dawida is a professor of law and public policy at California University of Pennsylvania.

Endowed in 2010, the J. Robert Maxwell ’43 Visiting Scholar Series was created to provide the Washington & Jefferson College community, including students, faculty, staff and interested citizens, access to a wider array of viewpoints, opinions and practices from distinguished and influential leaders.

J. Robert Maxwell (Class of 1943) was a lawyer, community leader and trustee emeritus of Washington & Jefferson College. He went on to receive a Certificate in Meteorology from the University of Chicago, and then entered the U.S. Navy and served until the end of World War II as a Lieutenant with duty primarily in the South Pacific. After the war, Maxwell entered Harvard Law School, graduated in 1949 and embarked on a new career in law.

Throughout Maxwell’s life, he was an ardent servant of W&J. He was president of the General Alumni Association and of the Allegheny County Alumni Association, service for which he received the W&J Award of Merit in 1958. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1965 and served as an active member until he was appointed a Trustee Emeritus in 1985. Maxwell was chairman of numerous board committees, and through his many years of service, provided leadership and guidance with great wisdom and delightful good humor.


About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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