Bill Clinton calls on students to be social entrepreneurs

Former president inaugurates Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton took time to honor the legacy of an old friend Monday at Brandeis University. The 42nd president was invited to give the inaugural lecture for the university’s Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program. He accepted and delivered in memory of the late Eli Segal ’64, who dedicated his life to public service.

Segal was Clinton’s chief of staff in his presidential campaign in 1992 and served as an assistant to the President in the White House, working on the administration’s AmeriCorps and Welfare-to-Work programs. In tune with Segal’s career, the program at Brandeis is designed to encourage new leaders to engage in a lifetime of citizen service and serve as a platform to promote community service and citizen leadership.

“He had a quality rare in public service,” Clinton told the crowd of some 5,000 Brandeis students, staff, faculty and media in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. “He was a genuine social entrepreneur who could take a vision and turn it into a reality.”

In continuing Segal’s mission, Clinton charged the audience to become “social entrepreneurs” because, he said, “we live in a world where active citizen involvement is required.” He cited inequalities and problems that are concerns worldwide and here in the US - such as poverty, global warming, inadequate health care and poor education.

Bill Clinton"People come here to be free and develop to their potential," he said. "To continue these inequalities it’s impossible to preserve that ideal."

Segal died in 2006 at the age of 63 from mesothelioma, a form of cancer. Following Clinton’s inaugural address there will be a biannual memorial lecture, which will bring additional policy makers, opinion leaders, students, social entrepreneurs, national and community service leaders and members of the Segal Fellows Network to speak at Brandeis.

According to Chrissy Callahan ’11, students at Brandeis were generally very impressed with the choice for the first address. “It’s an honor for Brandeis to host such a distinguished individual,” Callahan said. “It’s an important event for students to hear about the program from a man who was close to Segal, to give us more of a perspective of what Segal set out to do.”

Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz, who introduced Clinton, also led a question and answer session after the lecture. The crowd was entertained with performances by the Branches Pan Groove Steel Orchestra and by young adults involved in the CityYear program, which is a member of AmeriCorps.

For more information about the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program visit


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