EASTON, Pa.(www.lafayette.edu), March 16, 2008 — President Bill Clinton highlighted Lafayette’s Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project during the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference this weekend at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. Team leaders Lori Gonzalez ’10 (Bronx, N.Y.), a mechanical engineering major, Katherine Reeves ’10 (Colorado Springs, Colo.), an economics and business major, and Kavinda Udugama ’09 (Kandy, Sri Lanka), who is pursuing a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering and an A.B. in mathematics; presented the project’s progress at the conference. EEGLP is headed up by Gladstone Fluney Hutchinson, associate professor of economics and business. Clinton described the project and recognized the students during the ceremonies. Out of nearly 700 college students from more than 250 colleges and universities, representing almost every state and continent, only nine student groups were similarly recognized.

A transcript of Clinton’s comments follows:

Now I would like to ask Lori Gonzalez, Katherine Reeves, and Kavinda Udugama, all undergraduates at Lafayette, to come up. They have a project, the purpose of which is help residents of the Lower Ninth Ward rebuild as a model community focusing on green living.

Students from Lafayette will assist in these efforts by fostering collaboration, entrepreneurship, and business development. This commitment involves a partnership between the students’ Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project and the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association to rebrand the Lower Ninth Ward as a green urban economy, integrating environmentally friendly business practices into all aspects of the community.

Led by a faculty mentor, the students, the students from the East Coast – from Lafayette – have established a peer relationship with fellow students at Tulane to bridge a dialogue and inform action. The students will spend their summer assessing the community’s pressing needs and make several visits over the coming academic year to implement their project. The Holy Cross Neighborhood Association is taking the lead in sustainable restoration practices for the rest of the Lower Ninth, the City of New Orleans, and other damaged communities along the Gulf.

I particularly appreciate this because ever since I began working here – and I’ll say more about this in a minute – with the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and later with our own climate-change initiative, it has been obvious that we had to have local buy-in to make New Orleans a green city, but that if we did it right, it would be less expensive for low-income working people to come home and to live here, more rewarding, and it would be a lot easier to generate more investment as well as more new residents. Getting that buy-in requires the kind of interpersonal relationships that these young people are committed to making happen.

They’ve come here from a good ways away and they’ve made a commitment to the future of New Orleans in a way that I think we all can appreciate. So let’s give a big hand to Lori, Katherine, and Kavinda.