CGI U Day Two: Closing thoughts and pictures of the day

The closing session of CGI U at Washington University has just concluded and the enthusiasm and passion in the room are still very much on my mind. We ended CGI U with a rousing, entertaining and deeply inspirational session featuring Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and CGI U’s namesake, President Bill Clinton.

Following one of Colbert’s characteristically humorous and quirky monologues, he and Clinton settled into two overstuffed chairs in the center of stage and engaged each other — and all of us lucky enough to be present — in a dialogue that was funny, moving and highly educational. The two discussed a wide variety of serious issues, including the global economy and the jobs crisis, but you’ll need to tune in some time this week to see the monologue and hear the interview. You won’t be disappointed!

In his closing remarks, President Clinton touched on the important issue of global sustainability and praised Washington University for its commitment and record of achievement in building “green” (LEED-certified) buildings. I’m very proud of all of us here on campus who contribute to our sustainability effort, and I look forward to seeing it through in the years ahead.

President Clinton announced the winner of the CGIU “Sweet 16” Commitments Challenge, a bracket competition of social innovation, enterprise and sustainability ideas from college and university students. I am proud that a team from Washington University made it the final four before “losing” (I really don’t like that word in this context of selfless commitments…) to the eventual winner, Davier Rodriguez of Arizona State University for his innovative DREAMZone project to establish a national network of allies to support undocumented students.

When asked by a CGI U participant in the audience if he would rather have eight more years as president or continue the work he was doing now, the president replied: “I’d rather keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I can possibly do it, because I’m not sure anyone else would be doing it.”

As he has been doing all weekend, President Clinton’s response inspired all of us and left us even more committed to following our own passions. At the end of the day, that’s why we all came here this weekend.

CGI U participants were inspired and engaged throughout the two days of the event. (Credit: James Byard)

A CGI U participant works to move her ideas into action at one of the many skills and working sessions offered on Saturday. (Credit: Whitney Curtis)