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University of Central Missouri
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Clinton Lauds UCM as “Little Engine that Could” When Tackling Energy Issue

Contact: Jeff Murphy   |  Watch Video
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 9, 2011)  -  Prior to being honored by the University of Central Missouri Friday, May 6, Bill Clinton, the United States’ 42th president, spoke about key issues facing the world, including a pressing need to address energy consumption and the reduction of harmful greenhouse emissions. He lauded UCM for its sustainability efforts, noting that to others Central Missouri will “always look like the “little engine that could” when it comes to tackling energy management issues.

Clinton
President William J. Clinton addressed a capacity crowd during the spring graduate commencement ceremony.

During the Graduate Commencement ceremony, Clinton received the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, an award presented by University President Charles Ambrose. The degree recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through their outstanding service and exemplary achievements within their field of endeavor.  At the invitation of  Ambrose, Manuel “Manny” Abarca, a UCM graduate student from Grandview, introduced Clinton.

Prior to his speech before a crowd of more than 5,000 people in the Multipurpose Building, Clinton toured the Administration Building, getting a glimpse at some of the retrofits that were made during the university’s recent $36.1 million energy management project. He referred to this campus-wide project during his presentation, praising UCM for its commitment to sustainability. He said the commitment came at a time when few institutions dared to enter the same arena.

“When the economic crisis hit in 2008, the only two colleges in the whole country that were working on this that decided to stay the course and not delay were a little college called Lee College in Houston , Texas and the University of Central Missouri. You said ‘I don’t think we’ll wait’…you should be really proud of that,” Clinton told the crowd, which followed his remarks with a loud applause.

 He later urged graduates to remember that their alma mater was an innovator when it comes to using energy responsibly, and also thanked the university for working with the Clinton Climate Initiative, which is addressing issues related to sustainability worldwide.

“I believe that changing the way we produce and consume energy is the single most significant thing we can do to put America back to work again to create new jobs, to create new business, to create new technologies to bring manufacturing back to America to get us going again,” Clinton said.

Clinton receiving doctorate degree
Walt Hicklin, left, president of the UCM Board of Governors, and UCM President Charles Ambrose, right, presented President William J. Clinton with the honorary doctorate degree.

He pointed out there is a misconception that the only way to progress as a country is to “make more stuff and to put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” but economic progression doesn’t have to come at a high cost to the environment. Clinton noted that in 1997, he and Vice President Al Gore were in Kyoto, Japan to sign an agreement to reduce energy emissions. Forty-four countries signed the agreement, which included sustainability goals to be implemented by 2012. Only four of those countries, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom will meet these challenges.

“Before the financial meltdown in 2008, all four of these countries had lower unemployment rates than the United States (which didn’t sign the agreement), faster job growth rates, faster business growth rates and less economic inequality than we did, because they changed the way they produced and consumed energy,” he said.

Consistent with this idea, the president also commended the university for training people to work in energy conservation fields.  Although the former president did not provide details, the week prior to his visit, UCM announced that its School of Graduate and Extended Studies was working to launch the National Energy Retrofit Institute. The goal of this institute will be to teach businesses the business of energy retrofit in the residential energy efficiency sector and to create jobs for distressed construction workers and housing professionals.

Among other topics, President Clinton reminded students that the world is an interconnected place where actions of people in Mid-Missouri can affect peopled halfway around the globe. He said individuals need to make decisions that will help bolster world stability and counter instability that hurts millions of people.

“This is not a Republican or Democratic argument. This is the new radicalism. If you don’t think we are all in this together, we are toast,” he said. “That is the fundamental decision all of us have to make.”

Clinton was recognized by UCM for his service to the nation, and for his commitment to education and philanthropy.