Lucky for Stanford that billionaire William H. Gates III likes computer science and also has a soft spot in his heart for the university, whose Palo Alto campus is right on the edge of the Silicon Valley.
The chairman of Microsoft Corp. has donated $6 million to Stanford's new $26.1-million information science building, which will house the university's center for computer science.
Gates' generosity is all the more commendable when one considers that the Harvard dropout has no alumni connections to Stanford. He doesn't even live in California. Microsoft, the world's leading developer of computer software, which Gates co-founded in 1975, is headquartered in the Seattle suburb of Redmond. Last year, Gates also donated $12 million to the University of Washington.
Gates believes that by investing in education, whether nearby or far away from his company headquarters, he is helping the future of his industry.
"Stanford is one of the five best computer science schools in the country, one where many fundamental breakthroughs have occurred," he said in making his donation. He later told a Times staff writer, "I'm somebody who believes in education. We hire more people from California than (from) any other state."
The new Stanford facility is scheduled for completion in 1995 and will be known as the Gates Information Sciences Building. It will bring under one roof related disciplines now scattered in nine locations across campus.
Gates, 36, said he grew up reading computer science books authored by Stanford professors who continue to teach there. He is thankful to them and now his generosity will help keep Stanford and, we hope, all of California, on the cutting edge of high technology.