March 15, 2008
Mar 15

Press Release: Tulane University Hosts 700 Students for Inaugural Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University

New Orleans, Louisiana
Press Release

700 Students from around the World Gather at Tulane University for the Inaugural Meeting of CGI U.

President Bill Clinton today opened the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) by announcing new projects that students and universities are undertaking to improve the world. CGI U, a new non-partisan project of the Clinton Global Initiative, is mobilizing college students and universities to address global issues with practical and innovative solutions.

“Today’s generation of young people has more power to change the course of our future than any previous generation,” President Clinton said. “Whether it’s from their computer in a dorm room or through student groups on campus, they are seizing opportunities to put their innovative ideas into action. I hope CGI U will embolden more students to help solve the great challenges we all face in the 21st century.”

Nearly 700 college students gathered on the campus of Tulane University, traveling from more than 250 colleges and universities, representing almost each state and every continent except Antarctica. Students were joined by 29 university presidents, 11 national youth organization directors, social entrepreneurs, and college and university faculty and administrators.

CGI U’s schedule consisted of several working sessions and discussions devoted to four focus areas: energy & climate change, global health, human rights & peace, and poverty alleviation. A special session will also focus on the challenges and opportunities of rebuilding New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Participants included New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Brad Pitt, Lance Armstrong, Laurie David, James Carville, Lauren Bush, Dave Eggers, Betty Bigombe, and New Orleans Recovery Chief Dr. Ed Blakely, among others.

Over the course of the day, President Clinton announced several exemplary commitments made by both students and universities, descriptions of which are included below. Prior to attending the meeting, students and faculty submitted proposals on their plans to take action on these issues.

These commitments ranged from small actions with big impacts, such as installing energy-efficient light bulbs in low-income homes, to more ambitious projects such as providing support to subsistence farmers returning to Sudan. Students will carry out these projects over the coming months and years, and report back to CGI U on their progress and results.

The New Orleans community joined the CGI U attendees on Saturday afternoon to hear President Clinton speak about the need for young people to get involved in addressing the challenges of the day.

On Sunday, March 16, students will join President Clinton and Brad Pitt in the Lower 9th Ward to help rebuild New Orleans. Students will work on site preparation and erosion control measures with Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation. Make It Right made a commitment at the 2007 CGI Annual Meeting to construct 150 affordable and sustainable homes in the Lower 9th Ward.

Students not in attendance at Tulane University were able to follow the meeting live via webcast, and can make their own commitments online by visiting

President Clinton announced the following commitments on Saturday:

Mambidzeni Madzivire, Student, Mayo Graduate School:
This commitment will repair medical equipment in the developing world by pairing engineering graduate students with faculty service trips. These groups will hold trainings in Ghana and Jamaica, where the school has pre-existing relationships.

Tony C. Anderson and Marcus Penny, Students, Morehouse College:
This student group will raise funds to install one million energy efficient light bulbs including compact fluorescent bulbs over four years in low-income households. The pilot program will take place in Atlanta's West End.

Jokom Riak, Student, Salt Lake City Community College:
This commitment will support returning farmers to Southern Sudan following the peace agreement by providing farming equipment, seeds, and pesticide. Riak, a Lost Boy, came to the United States as part of the Clinton Administration's decision to grant the Lost Boys refugee status. President Clinton's resettlement initiative, has already created a website to assist in the collection of funds and will reach out to other Lost Boys to spread awareness and combine efforts.

Lu Hardin, President, University of Central Arkansas:
The University is creating a new program that will leverage faculty and student research relating to poverty alleviation. Undergraduate researchers will identify best practices that can be applied in rural Arkansas. These students will work towards the implementation of their research by collaborating with think-tanks and non-profits working in the region.

Elizabeth Coleman, President, Bennington College:
Bennington College will create a center on campus that will house problem-based educational programs in five subject areas: education, energy and climate change, international health, human rights, and poverty. Visiting interdisciplinary scholars, practitioners and activists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds will spend semesters at this center, and new classes will be launched to introduce students to these issues and identify promising solutions to them.

Julie Carney, Student, Yale University:
Through this commitment, The Artemis Project will create an online network to allow truth commissions and their successor organizations to upload, store, and share materials. In countries with the technological capacity, truth commissions can upload digitized documents to a central database. Where this capacity is not available, The Artemis Project staff will work alongside local truth commissions to help digitize documents on the site.

Scott Cowen, President, Tulane University:
This commitment will create neighborhood-based health centers throughout New Orleans for residents without health insurance. Each center will employ five to eight primary care physicians, and will service up to 20,000 distinct patients.

Elliott Sanchez, Student, Loyola University - New Orleans:
This commitment will create a student-sponsored microfinancing fund for community members to purchase income-building assets, such as painting supplies.

Anna Monhartova, Student, Tulane University Student:
This commitment will create a tennis-based after-school program in New Orleans, which will give students an opportunity to develop as student life and ease community tensions through sports.

Laurie Gonzalez, Katherine Reeves, Kavinda Udugama, Students, Lafayette College:
These students are working on an entrepreneurship and development project with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and the Center for Bio-Environmental Research (CBER) at Tulane and Xavier Universities to help the community build a “green” urban economy. This student group has conducted similar programs worldwide.

Qian Xiao, Student, University of California -San Diego:
In partnership with Peking University, this commitment will collect and distribute 7,500 children's books for primary and middle school students in rural China. They will also compile a guidance package with instructions on how to develop and maintain school and community libraries. This commitment will target 8 rural villages and help 800 students and 100 rural teachers.

Di Ling and Jenna Hook, Students, Rice University:
This commitment will create medical diagnostic backpacks for nomadic doctors in sub-Saharan Africa. Jeannie’s commitment will customize and prepare the backpacks for doctors working with the Pediatric AIDS Corps in Tanzania, Botswana and Malawi. Jenna will work with Jeanie’s team to develop a backpack to bring with her to Lesotho.

Ruth Simmons, President, Brown University:
Brown University will build on the current partnership between Princeton, Brown and Dillard Universities to “green” Dillard University facilities and promote sustainability on campus. These institutions will also collaborate on educational opportunities for students and faculty research.

For more information on CGIU, webcasts of sessions, and updated commitments, visit

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