Bill Gates, philanthropist, will give talk on April 21

Former CEO hopes to inspire MIT community to tackle problems of the world

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Microsoft News Center

Bill Gates, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, will speak at MIT on April 21 in an effort to motivate students and faculty to solve some of the world’s most significant problems.

Gates will give a presentation in Kresge Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., according a 2 p.m. press release from the News Office on Monday. The presentation will consist of a talk and 40-minute question-and-answer session. The talk, titled “Giving Back: Finding the Best Way to Make a Difference,” will reflect the philanthropic mission that Gates has devoted his time to in recent years. In addition to the event in Kresge, Gates will meet with President Susan J. Hockfield, along with other faculty members, to learn about MIT research that will solve problems confronting people across the world.

Tickets to the event will be distributed by lottery, and any member of the MIT community may enter. The lottery opened yesterday afternoon and will close at 5 p.m. on April 13. Those interested in entering the lottery can do so at In contrast, tickets for President Obama’s speech in October were tightly controlled. Only 200 tickets were available to students, faculty and staff and there was no open lottery: MIT assigned the tickets.

In addition to MIT, Gates will visit Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the University of California, Berkeley. According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at each university Gates will address the question “How do we get the world’s brightest people focused on its biggest problems?”.

Student reaction to news of Gates’ visit was mostly positive.

“To have President Obama and Bill Gates come in the same school year really says something about our credibility here,” said Kristin M. Rose ’10.

“It’s great to have one of the world’s best pioneers come to speak to us,” said Vu A. Hong ’10. “I’m happy that recently he’s been promoting the Gates Foundation more, rather than Microsoft.”

The Gates Foundation, founded in 1994, strives to improve health conditions in developing countries, while also helping people in these countries overcome poverty and hunger. In the United States, the foundation works toward spreading access to education and access to computers and the Internet in public libraries. The foundation also funds online video courses and interactive learning innovations.

One of the guiding principles of the Gates Foundation is that “science and technology have great potential to improve lives around the world.” In this year’s annual letter, Gates focuses on innovation because, as he states, “it can make the difference between a bleak future and a bright one.”