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The Clinton Lectures

A Four-Part Series by the 42nd President of The United States

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON’S (SFS’68) series of lectures at Georgetown explore the people, events, lessons and guiding principles that have shaped his career in public service.

The lectures examine the framework for a lifetime spent championing an idea espoused by his Georgetown professor Carroll Quigley: that America is the greatest nation in history because our people have always believed in two things – that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal, moral responsibility to make it so.

This four-lecture series takes place over a number of years. The lectures will be webcast live.

This is the second time Clinton has given a series of talks at Georgetown. In 1991, as the governor of Arkansas and Democratic candidate for president, he presented three “New Covenant” speeches to students on Responsibility and Rebuilding the American Community, Economic Change and American Security. These speeches, like the new lecture series, take place in Georgetown’s historic Gaston Hall.

Clinton entered Georgetown as a freshman in 1964 and graduated four years later with a bachelor of science in international affairs from the School of Foreign Service. 

During his time at Georgetown he served as class president, served on the student council, ran for president of the student council and lost, and worked for Sen. William Fulbright (D-Ark.), then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Phi Beta Kappa and Kappa Kappa Psi member earned a Rhodes Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford after he graduated from Georgetown.


Life at Georgetown

Major Influences

Clinton has often noted as major influences his professors at Georgetown, particularly the late Carroll Quigley and Rev. Joseph Sebes, S.J., as well as Rev. Otto Hentz, S.J., who still teaches at Georgetown.

Hentz asked the young Clinton, a Baptist, if he had considered becoming a Jesuit. The professor has said he believes the curriculum and the Catholic and Jesuit influence at Georgetown had a profound influence on the future president.

“Clinton is not a man who is defensive and closed in his thinking because he thinks deeply,” Hentz told Georgetown’s alumni magazine in 1993. “When you try to get at the heart of issues, you’re not bound to just one perspective. The deeper you go, the more inclusive you get.”

Future Preference

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Quigley coined the phrase “future preference,” to which Clinton referred in his acceptance speech for the Democratic presidential nomination in July 1992. The professor used the term to mean sacrificing today for the sake of tomorrow.

“That idea was at the heart of my campaign for the presidency, and it is a lesson which now applies with equal force to the community of nations,” he told the diplomatic corps at a Georgetown event in January 1993.

He said Quigley taught him “that the future can be better than the present, and that each of us has personal, moral responsibility to make it so.”

Related Information

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