video iconPresident Bill Clinton addressed a crowd of 5,000 students and their families, faculty and staff, and community members in Sanford Field House Friday night as part of The Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate.

Before a question-and-answer session led by Colgate President Jeffrey Herbst, Clinton explained that he would be responding through a framework “through which I view all these apparently disparate things that are going on in the world.”

He expounded on this framework, outlined by three clusters of problems he perceives in the world: inequality, instability, and unsustainability.

“One of the things I picked up, traveling around America, is how hard it is for people — especially if they’re having a hard time paying their bills and staying in their homes and holding on to their jobs and educating their children — to make sense of all the things that are happening,” he said.


Convocation

Clinton spoke of his international work with his nongovernmental organization, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). As Herbst said in his introduction, CGI members have made 1,700 commitments valued at $57 billion, which has already affected more than 220 million people in 170 countries.

“One thing I’ve learned is intelligence and effort are evenly distributed, but structure and opportunities are not.”

From the longtime poverty and devastation in Haiti to the drug wars in Mexico to the financial crisis in the United States, Clinton explained how each country’s problems affects us all because of our interdependence.

Q&A

• Several Colgate students submitted questions for President Clinton. Kendall Dolbec ’11 asked Clinton what career advice he had for Colgate’s graduating class, given the current global economy.

Encouraging them to search their hearts for what makes them feel happiest and most fulfilled, Clinton said, “Then I would say, can I do that now? If the answer is no because of the economic circumstances, then I would find something I could do that was useful and that I’d learn something from for a couple of years.”

Advising students not to make a long-term decision based on economic standing, he said, “You’ve got to believe your country’s coming back — I do. You never bet against America.”

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“We can’t get away from each other and we can’t escape the consequences of our actions on others, around the corner or around the world.”

The most recent example he cited was the terrorist threat from Yemen that was announced by President Obama shortly before Friday’s event.

Speaking about climate change and CGI’s environmental work, Clinton said improved sustainability efforts are one solution for improving our economic situation.

“It’s the number one thing we can do to modernize the economy, to bring back manufacturing, to increase the employment base, to rebuild the middle class in America, and I have some evidence to support that,” he said, greeted by applause.

As he prepared to leave for a get-out-the-vote rally at Utica’s Stanley Theater, where he endorsed U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri for re-election, Clinton closed by saying, “Whatever happens in this election, the parties will be more closely aligned. There will be more cooperation after this, and we have things to learn from each other.”

The Global Leaders series, sponsored by Colgate’s Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund, allows the university to invite high-profile guests like Clinton to campus.

Former world chess champion-turned-politician Garry Kasparov delivered the most recent lecture in the series.

Other speakers have included Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain; Colin Powell, former U.S. secretary of state; the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism; and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, award-winning authors of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

More Global Leaders Who Have Visited Colgate

Joseph "Joe" Biden Jr. speaks in front of a Colgate backdrop

Joseph "Joe" Biden, Jr.

Former Vice President of the United States, 2017

Joseph "Joe" Biden Jr. speaks in front of a Colgate backdrop
Aretha Franklin on stage during Global Leaders 2016

Aretha Franklin

Queen of Soul, 2016

More on her visit

Aretha Franklin on stage during Global Leaders 2016
Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Isreal, speaking at Global Leaders 2014

Shimon Peres

Former President and Prime Minister of Israel, 2014

More on his visit 

Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Isreal, speaking at Global Leaders 2014
Hillary Clinton speaking at Global Leaders 2013

Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State, 2013

More on her visit 

Hillary Clinton speaking at Global Leaders 2013
Felipe Calderon speaking at Global Leaders 2013

Felipe Calderón

Former President of Mexico, 2013

More on his visit 

Felipe Calderon speaking at Global Leaders 2013
Sir Richard Branson runs through the crowd of students performing a Flash Mob, making a grand entrance to his talk at Colgate University, as part of the Global Leaders Lecture Series 2013.

Sir Richard Branson

Entrepreneur and philanthropist, 2012

More on his visit 

Sir Richard Branson runs through the crowd of students performing a Flash Mob, making a grand entrance to his talk at Colgate University, as part of the Global Leaders Lecture Series 2013.
Bill Clinton speaking during Global Leaders 2010.

Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States, 2010

More on his visit 

Bill Clinton speaking during Global Leaders 2010.
Garry Kasparov speaking to students during Global Leaders 2010.

Garry Kasparov

Chess champion and political activist, 2010

More on his visit

Garry Kasparov speaking to students during Global Leaders 2010.
Former Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, speaking at Global Leaders 2009.

Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister of Britain, 2009

More on his visit 

Former Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, speaking at Global Leaders 2009.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking during Global Leaders 2009.

General Colin Powell

Former U.S. Secretary of State, 2009

More on his visit 

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking during Global Leaders 2009.
The Dalai Lama speaking during Global Leaders 2008.

His Holiness - The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

Spiritual leader of Tibet, 2008

More on his visit 

The Dalai Lama speaking during Global Leaders 2008.

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