The Examiner

WCC Presents President Clinton With Honorary Degree at Fundraiser

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President Bill Clinton was presented with an honorary degree at Westchester Community College on Saturday.
President Bill Clinton was presented with an honorary degree at Westchester Community College on Saturday.

It’s fitting that Westchester Community College presented former President Bill Clinton with an honorary degree on Saturday afternoon. Clinton was the first U.S. president to deliver a commencement address at a community college.

At a fundraiser before close to 600 guests at WCC’s physical education building on its Valhalla campus, Clinton told the crowd that community colleges plays an important role in not only providing affordable higher education but for being a model of diversity, a challenge that many societies face today.

“You see people come from all over the world, every race, every religious background, every conceivable kind of diversity,” Clinton said during brief remarks before engaging in an interview attended by guests only with Les Crystal of PBS. “Here you may even have an 18-year-old run for city council. That’s the good part about our world.

“If we learn to manage our diversity we’ll be fine. That’s what I think community colleges do a good job of. If we learn to get into a process of continuous improvement we’ll be fine.”

It was Clinton’s first appearance at Westchester Community College since 2005. It was expected that his visit would raise at least $50,000 for scholarship funds and student support.

Clinton, who has called Chappaqua home since leaving the White House, said that two major challenges face nations around the globe: modernizing systems to help get the most out of their economies and bringing together people of disparate backgrounds. A community college such as WCC is the kind of organization that America and the world need to look to for leadership in the 21st century, he said.

“So I think that community colleges of America and I think Westchester (Community) College will be more important in the years ahead, even as it has been in the past,” Clinton said.

College President Dr. Joseph Hankin and Timothy Carey, chairman of the board of trustees at WCC, introduced Clinton to the crowd and presented the honorary degree. It is bestowed on individuals who have had significant achievements and outstanding service to their community, state or country, Carey said.

He cited Clinton’s accomplishments dating back to his days as Arkansas governor, where he improved the state’s education system, through his two terms in the White House and post-Presidential career as founder of the Clinton Global Initiative, which tackles some of the most pressing problems with leaders from around the world.

“With this citation, he is being recognized for his commitment to excellence, his compassion for the understanding of the members of the global community and his resolve to improve the lives of others through education,” Carey said.

Hankin said that in Clinton’s previous visit eight years ago, it raised enough money to help about 100 students complete their studies.

Among the dignitaries who attended Saturday’s event were County Executive Rob Astorino, his predecessor Andrew Spano, state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef.



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