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Thousands of UCSD Students to Attend
Clinton Global Initiative University to be Held on Campus

Ioana Patringenaru | March 7, 2011

Former President Bill Clinton will be at UC San Diego for the three-day Clinton Global Initiative University conference.

A total of 2,600 UC San Diego students will have the opportunity to attend the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative University conference, hosted here in April. The free tickets became available at 10 a.m. today on a first-come, first-served basis at the UCSD Box Office.

The conference takes place April 1 to 3 and will bring more than 1,000 conference participants to campus. The kick-off session is set for 7:30 to 9 p.m. April 1. It will include remarks by former President Bill Clinton and UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, as well as a panel discussion featuring various leaders who have tackled global challenges in their field.

“It's a great experience for our students, and it brings great visibility to our campus,” said Gary Ratcliff, assistant vice chancellor for student life.

The conference usually brings a wave of celebrities to campuses and this year likely won’t be an exception. For now, Sean Penn is set to attend, said Ratcliff. In past years, actors Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman and Matthew McConaughey, among others, have made appearances.

On Monday morning, hundreds of students braved the rain to wait in line to get their free ticket at the UCSD Box Office. Armed with umbrellas, they passed the time by chatting or checking e-mail on their smart phones. Most said they weren’t familiar with the Clinton Global Initiative University, but wanted to hear the former president speak.

“I’m really excited,” said Jennifer Lien, a fourth-year political science major.

Lien was one of the few that actually knew about the conference. She applied to be an attendee. When she didn’t make it, she decided to get a free ticket for the opening session. She brought along Ben Lewis, a fellow political science major. He said he was interested in Clinton. “I just wanted to see the person and his opinions,” Lewis said.

Hundrewds of students lined up for free tickets to the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative University conference.

The tickets are now sold out. In addition to the opening session, the conference will include working sessions and skill sessions April 2. Finally, more than 800 attendees will take part in a service project April 2. In all, 200 UCSD students have been admitted to take part in the three-day event. They all had to propose a commitment to action—essentially a public service project.

“These are students who are really motivated to change the world and make it a better place,” Ratcliff said.

They will meet students from all around the world, who are also taking part in the conference. The list of participating countries includes Uganda, Pakistan, Kosovo, Haiti and many, many others. Another 250 UCSD students have been selected to volunteer at the conference, Ratcliff said.

The conference’s decision to come to UCSD also shows the campus is a research leader in the fields Clinton’s organization cares about: energy and climate change, global health, human rights and peace, education and poverty alleviation.

"Through the Clinton Global Initiative University, students and universities have made more than 3,000 commitments over the last three years," President Clinton said. "Commitments made in 2010 alone will improve the lives of more than 290,000 people, and I am looking forward to joining next year's attendees at the University of California, San Diego in April to see the progress being made."

In the past, students have committed to:

  • Install energy-efficient light bulbs
  • Establish campus bike share programs
  • Build an egg-laying facility in Haiti
  • Design medical backpacks for nomadic doctors in Africa
  • Tutor at-risk youth
  • And much more.

Established in 2005 by President Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 15 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations and prominent members of the media.

These CGI members have made more than 1,900 commitments, which have already improved the lives of nearly 300 million people in more than 170 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $63 billion. The CGI community also includes CGI University (CGI U), a forum to engage college students in global citizenship,, an online portal where anybody can make a Commitment to Action, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development. For more information, visit

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