Carlow University Establishes the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics

Carlow University has established the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics, named for Carlow alumna Michele Atkins and her husband, Patrick.

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New Center Named for Michele R. Atkins, ’82, and Husband, Patrick Atkins, PhD

Goal to Develop Students as Ethical Leaders, Promote Civil Discourse on Critical Issues

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University has established the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics, a signature Center for the university in the study and application of ethics.

“This center will highlight the importance of ethics to the entire university community and the region,” said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, the president of Carlow University.  “It presents an opportunity to develop a distinctive pathway that builds upon the heritage of the university and its founding sponsor, the Sisters of Mercy. Our mission and vision call upon us to reflect and act, and to make a meaningful difference in our world.”

The Center is a new initiative being established through the generous $1.5 million gift of Michele Rehfeld Atkins, a Carlow alumna from the class of 1982, and her husband, Patrick Atkins, PhD, given in 2011.

“Pat and I are committed to raising the level of awareness of ethical issues for this region and for the country.  The examination of issues involving what is right, fair, just, legal and moral is becoming increasingly critical to the future of our world,” said Michele Atkins, who is a former chair of the Carlow Board of Trustees. “Carlow University has an almost 100-year history of teaching values and moral behavior.  The Atkins Center for Ethics is envisioned to continue a dialogue about the ethical reflection and reasoning needed on the moral and social problems facing our country and world today.  This is the difference we hope this investment can make.”

William S. Schweers, JD, an assistant professor in political science, will be the inaugural executive director of the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics.

“Through the extraordinary generosity of the Atkins, Carlow will establish a center dedicated to promoting ethical reflection among members of the university and the community-at-large,” said Schweers.  “Our goal is to establish a dynamic, interdisciplinary program that will foster a greater understanding of ethics in every day life.”

The initial plans for the Atkins Center include a regional high school essay contest, public presentations and panel discussions on ethical issues affecting the local community, and a speaker series featuring experts in fields of study associated with ethics and leadership on topics of current and global interest.  At Carlow, the Atkins Center will play a prominent role in influencing undergraduate and graduate curricula, so that Carlow students can develop into ethical leaders prepared to confront the ethical and moral issues of the day in their chosen fields of study.   In addition, opportunities to engage in cross-institutional and organizational dialogue and research about ethical issues will be sought.

An advisory group for the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics will be established to provide input and guidance on the work of the Center, its mission and alignment with the university, and further ways to enhance its purpose and impact on the community.


About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s eleven athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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