Bill Gates: Honorary Pittsburgher

Rick Sebak catalogues the Microsoft founder’s trips to the Steel City.



What brought Bill Gates, the genius of Microsoft and the world’s richest man, to our fair city?

When Gates appears in Pittsburgh, it’s to impress, encourage and claim fresh young minds. He comes here to influence brilliant students working in the computer sciences at local universities. He also stops by to share some of his incredible wealth — always, it seems, with optimism and hope for the future.

He has made the trip from Seattle — his headquarters — to Pittsburgh at least three times; all of those visits featured public appearances on the Carnegie Mellon University campus.

Gates first stopped by for a quick visit and speech on Feb. 25, 2004. He had been atop the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest individuals since 1995 but still was making personal contact with select universities. He had been at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the night before; he zipped up to Cornell after his talk here and planned to visit Harvard and MIT afterward. He must have been impressed with something here: That September brought the announcement that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would give CMU a $20 million gift to help with financing a new building for the School of Computer Sciences.

That structure was under construction when Gates returned on Feb. 21, 2008, again on a tour of universities. His speech on software, innovation, entrepreneurship and giving back had been branded as “Bill Gates Unplugged”; you can watch it on YouTube. The talk was followed by a surprise presentation of a sort of “retirement gift,” as Gates had just resigned as CEO of Microsoft to devote all of his attention to his foundation. Then-CMU President Dr. Jared L. Cohon praised Gates, saying, “You actually remind us of someone else who is actually very close to the heart of this institution . . . We thought it would be fitting to connect you, the greatest philanthropist of the 21st century, with the greatest philanthropist of the 20th century.” Then Cohon presented Gates with one of Andrew Carnegie’s original desk chairs from his office at Carnegie Steel.

Gates’ next Pittsburgh visit was on Sept. 22, 2009, when he gave a short keynote speech and helped to cut the ribbon for the double dedication of the new Gates Center for Computer Science and the new Hillman Center for Future Generation Technologies in Oakland. The building gives Gates and Microsoft a prominent presence at CMU; the company remains the largest corporate recruiter of students.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded several other projects with local connections, including grants to Aquion Energy for its innovations in long-lasting batteries and to Project Tycho at the University of Pittsburgh, where disease-mortality rates and the effects of vaccines are being studied. The foundation also has given $40 million to the Pittsburgh Public Schools for evaluating teachers’ classroom performances, but the future of that effort is uncertain. North of the city, at the vast Iron Mountain underground storage facility near Slippery Rock in Butler County, Gates has established a state-of-the-art storage facility for the huge collection of photographs that his privately owned company Corbis licenses and preserves.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.
Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

The Heinz History Center’s World War II traveling exhibit focuses on western Pennsylvania’s ties to history.
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Meg Cheever To Step Down

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Meg Cheever To Step Down

The nonprofit's founding President and CEO will leave her position early next year.
Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

The Outdoor Recreation Club becomes the newest student organization at the college.

Comments