Harvard School of Public Health honored former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton for their commitment to public health during the school’s 100th anniversary celebration on Thursday.
The school gave a Centennial Medal—a one-time award commemorating the anniversary—to President Clinton, who started the Clinton Foundation with the mission of tackling global issues, including improving global health, after leaving the White House. Two more Centennial Medals were awarded to Harvard alumni Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Speaking to a crowd that filled Harvard’s Joseph B. Martin Conference Center to capacity for the hourlong event, President Clinton also encouraged collaboration among individuals with varied resources and talents, citing it as the best way to improve global health.
“We are living in an unprecedented era of interdependence, but that only means that we cannot escape each other,” Clinton said. “Divorce is not an option. We are all bound together.”
Chelsea Clinton, who serves as the vice chairwoman of the Clinton Foundation, received the inaugural Next Generation Award, which recognizes individuals younger than 40 for their accomplishments in the public-health sector.
Before giving out the awards, Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk paid tribute to Elif Yavuz, an alumnae who worked for the Clinton Foundation as a senior vaccines researcher and was killed in the mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya, last month. President Clinton also recalled the death of his former colleague, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and praised her work during his acceptance speech.
Check out photos from the event below:
From left: President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Dr. Brundtland, and Dr. Kim file into the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center to take their seats before the ceremony.
Julio Frenk, dean of Harvard School of Public Health, greeted students who were unable to fit in the auditorium, but watched the ceremony via live stream elsewhere inside the New Research Building.
Although it was a celebration, Dean Frenk also took a moment to mourn the loss of Harvard alumna Elif Yavuz, who died in the mall massacre in Kenya last month.
Dean Frenk honored Chelsea Clinton with the inaugural Next Generation Award, praising her work with the Clinton Foundation. In her work as the vice chairwoman, Clinton focuses on health programs, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.
“To make change, you have to have some fundamental dissatisfaction,” said Clinton, urging young people to take action in tackling major issues facing society.
The crowd, with President Clinton in the front row, watches a video highlighting the accomplishments of Dr. Brundtland, the first to receive a Centennial Medal.
Centennial Medal recipient Dr. Brundtland‘s career spans 10 years as a physician and scientist and 20 years in public office, including more than 10 years as the Prime Minister of Norway, the first woman and the youngest person to do so. She was also the first woman to serve as the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
During her speech, Dr. Brundtland stressed the links between all global issues, including health, human rights, education, and climate change.
Bill and Chelsea Clinton observe the ceremony from the front row.
Dean Frenk embraced Harvard alumnus Dr. Kim, president of the World Bank Group, while awarding him with a Centennial Medal.
During his acceptance speech, Dr. Kim urged attendees to identify and tackle the most intricate problem they could find.
Dr. Kim shakes hands with President Clinton. Later, Clinton shared that his wife, Hillary, was the first to tell him that Dr. Kim should become president of the World Bank.
In addition to global health, President Clinton also stressed the killing of African elephants as a key issue for the Clinton Global Initiative, pointing out that al-Shabab, the Somali Islamic extremist group who claims credit for the Nairobi mall attack that killed Yavuz, partially relies on illegal sales of ivory from poached elephants for their funding.
In regards to public health, Clinton stressed collaboration as the key for improvement on a global scale. “The only question is what kind of future we want to share,” he said.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2013/10/25/bill-clinton-harvard/
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