CGI U Opens: Thoughts and picture of the day

The opening night of Clinton Global Initiative University. To download hi-res images from the CGI U visit: (Credit: Joe Angeles)

The soulful voice of Alicia Keys resounded throughout the WU Field House as more than 1,200 of the brightest young minds in the world took their seats for the opening session of the 6th annual Clinton Global Initiative University.

And what a night it was.

From Chelsea Clinton asking the crowd to ensure that “how” is at the center of every conversation, to walking out on stage and greeting CGI U, to welcoming President Clinton back to the same venue in which he shined at a 1992 presidential debate, it was a good beginning to an incredible night.

But that wasn’t the best part.

Addressed first by four of last year’s CGI U commitments, a panel featuring the President, designer Kenneth Cole; Twitter founder CEO Jack Dorsey; student and author William Kamkwamba; and writer and international women’s activist Zainab Salbi wowed the crowd with words of inspiration and challenge.

The energy was electric. As I told the crowd, Washington University in St. Louis believes it has a responsibility to encourage civic engagement. Through the great work of our faculty, our staff, our schools and our students, we are preparing leaders, advancing human health, inspiring entrepreneurship and innovation and striving to enhance the quality of life for all.

You can follow the activities of the weekend at

Many poignant messages were shared tonight, among them:

“We trust you to change the future of the world,” President Clinton said.

“Wash U is really an example for universities not just in the U.S., but also around the world,” Chelsea Clinton said.

“If you have strong sense of purpose, you can do anything,” Dorsey told the crowd.

And tonight was just the beginning.

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