Changing the way people talk can change the way they relate to each other and their problems – and that can eventually change the community.”

– David Mathews

The David Mathews Center for Civic Life is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt corporation. We build skills, habits, and capacities for more effective civic engagement and innovative decision making.

Simply put, we work to strengthen civic life in all 67 Alabama counties. Our programming includes convening and moderating deliberative public forums, hosting reporting-out events, conducting moderator and convener training workshops, and developing youth leadership and community engagement opportunities. The Mathews Center also authors the Alabama Civic Health Index to measure how Alabamians engage with each other and the issues they care about. DMC signature programs equip Alabamians with tools to find strength in themselves, and their fellow citizens, to find solutions to knotty community problems and pressing public issues. Because we believe that Alabamians should play a role in defining the public issues – and their solutions – that affect their daily lives, we listen as much as we speak. Much of our time is spent in Alabama communities working with an ever-growing network of everyday Alabamians in their capacities as small business owners, university professors, educators, service providers, faith-based community members, and more to strengthen civic life in our state. Over the past decade, this diverse group of partners has remained united in a common goal: to work better together in our communities and across our state. We invite you to join us.

About Dr. David Mathews

David Mathews is the former president and chief executive officer of the Charles. F. Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio. Since 1981, his leadership shaped the Kettering Foundation's pioneering research and work with public deliberation and democratic practices in communities all across the nation and the world. He has been a tireless champion of the idea that regular citizens can make a difference in combating the crisis in democracy now facing the United States and countries around the world. Nonpartisan and nonpolitical, Kettering’s research focuses on how to make democracy work as it should.

Prior to his work at the Kettering Foundation, Mathews was named President of the University of Alabama in 1969, and at the age of 33, he was the youngest president of a major university. He served as the university’s president until 1980, during which time he was named to President Gerald R. Ford’s cabinet as the 11th Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1975 to 1977. Mathews currently serves as Trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.

Life and Work of Dr. David Mathews

  1. December 6, 1935

    David Mathews was born in Grove Hill, Alabama.

  2. 1958

    Received is AB in history and classical Greek from University of Alabama.

  3. 1965

    Earned his PhD in History from Columbia University

  4. 1965

    Professor of History at University of Alabama from 1965 to 1980

  5. 1966

    Served as president of University of Alabama 1969 to 1980. Beginning his tenure as president at the age of 33, Dr. Mathews was the youngest president of a major university.

  6. 1969

    Nominated as a member of the United States Junior Chamber.

  7. 1971

    Presided over the integration of the University of Alabama’s football program under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1971.

  8. 1972

    Mathews was appointed to the Kettering Foundation Board of Trustees.

  9. 1973

    Elected a member of the Alabama Academy of honor.

  10. 1975

    Served as United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Wellness during the Gerald Ford Administration from August 8, 1975 to January 20, 1977, where he worked on restoring public confidence in government.

  11. 1976

    Received Educator of the Year award from the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors in 1976.

  12. 1976

    Received Nicholas Murray Butler Medal in Silver from Columbia University.

  13. 1979

    Received the Brotherhood Award, National Conference of Christians and Jews.

  14. 1981

    Mathews became president and CEO of Kettering Foundation.

  15. 1996

    Published “Is there a Public for Public Schools?”

  16. 1999

    Published “Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice”

  17. 2002

    Published “For Communities to Work”

  18. 2003

    Published “Why Public Schools? Whose Public Schools?”

  19. 2004

    Inducted into University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame.

  20. 2006

    Inducted into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame.

  21. 2006

    Published “Reclaiming our Public Education by Reclaiming our Democracy”

  22. 2007

    The Alabama Center for Civic Life was renamed in his honor as the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.

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