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Bill Gates Donates $20 million to MIT

By Matthew G.H. Chun, Contributing Writer

A one-time Harvard student turned big-time computer mogul has donated $20 million to the trade school down the river.

MIT officially announced today it had received the donation from Microsoft founder William H. Gates III, class of 1977.

The money will be used to construct a new computer lab building named the William H. Gates Building that will be part of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS).

In an Associated Press (AP) article, MIT President Charles M. Vest said the new Gates computer center will be at the center of MIT's greatest period of change since the end of World War II.

According to Sarah H. Wright of MIT's news office, Gates donated the money to the institute because of his friendship with the director of the LCS. Wright also said the research done at the LCS affected Gates' own work.

"The director of the LCS, Michael L. Dertouzos, has worked with Bill Gates before so they had a pre-existing relationship," Wright said. "Also, the research coming out of the LCS is right up his (Gates) alley."

In the AP article, Gates said MIT will continue to be a leader in software and computer development and predicted new breakthroughs would be made soon in the computer industry.

"We're going to look back at how we're doing things today, and we're going to view it as very primitive in 10 years," Gates said in the article.

In addition to the donation, Gates gave a speech entitled "The Future of Software" yesterday at the LCS, which is celebrating 35 years of research this week. The celebration continues today as Tim Berners-Lee, principle research scientist at the LCS, gives a speech entitled "The Future of the Web."

The new building, which is being designed by architect Frank O. Gehry, will be located on the site of the MIT's historic Building 20, where radar was developed during World War II. That building was demolished last year.

Construction of the new building should be completed by 2003.

According to Wright, Microsoft has donated money to MIT before, but this is the first time the university received money from Gates personally. The funds came from the William H. Gates III foundation, Gates' personal charity foundation, which is worth over $6.5 billion.

Gates last donated money to Harvard in 1996 when he and Microsoft Executive Vice President Steven A. Ballmer '77 gave $25 million to the University to benefit research and teaching in computer sciences and electrical engineering.

Harvard is using $20 million of the donation to construct a research and teaching facility for computer science and electrical engineering activities. The building will be named Maxwell-Dworkin after the donors' mothers, Mary Maxwell Gates and Beatrice Dworkin Ballmer. Construction of the building is ongoing at a site near the law school.

The remaining $5 million was used to support research and endow a Faculty chair.

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