Bill Gates, Harvard University's most famous dropout, has donated $25 million to the university, Harvard officials announced Tuesday. Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, and Steven Ballmer, executive vice president of Microsoft, donated the gift to be used for the school's Computer Science and Electrical Engineering departments. Harvard will use $20 million of the gift to construct a state-of-the-art facility for research and teaching and $5 million to endow a faculty chair and support research in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. "Universities have played a major role in the development of the Internet and many other important technologies," Gates said in a statement. "Steve and I are excited to help Harvard advance this program in ways that will contribute directly to the phenomenal innovation underway today in the information technology field and to the close examination of its impact on society," he added. Gates, who dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year, has been deemed the wealthiest man in America by Forbes magazine. At age 40, he is worth $18.5 billion. Ballmer graduated from Harvard in 1977. The new facility, to be named Maxwell Dworkin in honor of the donors' mothers, will include classrooms, seminar rooms, offices and laboratory space. According to Harvard spokesperson Alex Huppe, the building will house the two departments and promote an interdisciplinary approach to the studies. Huppe said no timetable has been set for the construction of the facility but added that "it will be swift." "We're currently bursting at the seams," he said. "We don't have enough room for our faculty and this space will allow us to meet current needs -- and to expand the faculty. And of course there's a lot of student demand." Harvard administrators have been working for five years to create a stronger presence in the fields targeted by the donation, Huppe said. In addition to expanding teaching and research capabilities, the university will use the gift to conduct more intensive studies of the effects technology has on society. "We're delighted by this gift. It allows Harvard to move forward with our plans," Huppe said. "This is an opportunity to really quicken those efforts." The $25 million gift comes in the midst of a five-year, $2.1 billion campaign at Harvard. Gifts as of the end of September total $1.32 billion -- 63 percent of the goal.Comments powered by Disqus
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