Clinton accepts McGill degree

MONTREAL (CUP) – Former United States president Bill Clinton received an honorary doctorate from McGill University last week for “a lifetime of outstanding leadership.”

The Oct. 16 ceremony was held at Montreal’s Centre Mont-Royal as part of the university’s inaugural Leadership Summit.

Clinton spoke to the crowd after receiving the honorary doctorate.

“I am profoundly honoured to be here at this magnificent university,” he said.

For much of his speech, Clinton focused on addressing inequalities around the world. “We know that half the world is living on less than $2 a day; a billion people go to bed hungry; a billion people have no access to clean water; [and] two and a half billion people [have] no access to sanitation,” he said.

He reiterated throughout his speech that the world today is extremely interconnected and interdependent, and stressed the need for a world conscience.

“We have to have a world conscience, and in the absence of it, we will not make the right decisions . . . This inequality problem cannot be solved by anybody alone; it will require a communitarian mentality,” Clinton said.

The event was a private, invitation-only ceremony. Attendees included McGill senate members and active volunteers with the Campaign McGill fundraising initiative. Very few students were invited to the ceremony, but those who attended included student senators and students awarded the Clinton-Dahdaleh scholarship.

“We wanted to make it part of our Leadership Summit. We couldn’t invite all the students; the space of course would not be appropriate,” said Marc Weinstein, McGill’s vice-principal of development and alumni relations.

Weinstein also said that the university did not pay Clinton to accept the degree and that no donation was made to the Clinton Foundation. The invitation was made at no cost to the university by an alumnus, Victor Dahdaleh, who is a “very close ally” of Clinton.

Science senator Andrew Ling was one of few students who was invited to the ceremony. Ling thought that Clinton’s speech was inspirational.

“I thought he really showed how every single individual can have an impact on the world, regardless of his or her life and social circumstances. If we can get each person to take a small action, we can make progress,” he said.

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