Politics & Policy

ASU Spent $500,000 to Host Clinton Conference Other Universities Hosted for Free

Hillary Clinton at the CGIU event in Miami in March. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

Since 2008, the Clinton Global Initiative University, an entity of the Clinton Foundation, has hosted an annual conference at one lucky college or university in the United States. Several of the host schools in recent years have held the conference without spending a dime, but the host of CGI University’s 2014 conference, Arizona State University, wasn’t quite so lucky — the college shelled out a costly $500,000 in “marketing expenses” for the event.

According to The College Fix, the price tag for the University hosting the annual conference has varied in the past. In 2009, the University of Texas at Austin hosted CGI University, and paid production costs up front before the student government requested and received reimbursement from the organization for the full $28,851.15 UT had spent.

George Washington University, host of the 2012 conference, didn’t have to pay anything either. “The George Washington University was honored to host the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2012,” a university official told The College Fix. “As part of our partnership, we provided space on our campus and many of our students participated and volunteered during the meeting. We did not pay an honorarium to host.”

Tulane University, which hosted the inaugural Clinton Global Initiative University back in 2008, also confirmed that it paid nothing for the privilege. Several of the other universities who hosted the event refused to tell The College Fix whether they spent any money, and this year’s host, the University of Miami, said that they were keeping the information private.

Arizona State has received harsh criticism for its decision to spend a half-million dollars on the CGI conference when the school has doubled its tuition over the past decade.

The annual CGI University conference typically brings together a wide array of celebrities, representatives, experts, and even President Clinton himself to discuss the organization’s five focus areas — education, climate change, human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health — with students. Bill and Hillary Clinton both spoke at the 2014 conference, along with a variety of activists from around the world.

Arizona State has received harsh criticism for its decision to spend a half-million dollars on the CGI conference when the school has doubled its tuition over the past decade. The College Fix reached out to the university to ask if they knew that other universities hosted the conference without spending any money, and an ASU spokesman released this statement:

ASU played host to the Clinton Global Initiative University in March 2014, which featured former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a program aimed at bringing together college students to find practical, innovative solutions to global challenges. The report you cited reflects the fact that the university co-invested in this educational and promotional opportunity, which was co-produced for our students, and for students from around the world. No public funds were used for this purpose.

The president of Arizona State University, Michael Crow, responded to recent backlash surrounding the school’s decision in early June. Crow attacked journalists reporting on the event, saying they “serve as a dog whistle for politically-driven sound bites.”

“They [journalists] fail to acknowledge what the university is and how it operates to acquire what it needs to be successful.”

— Julia Porterfield is an intern at National Review, editor-in-chief of Red Millennial, and a junior at Regent University.

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