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Video: Bill Gates at Pomona College

Bill Gates

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Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp. and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, visited Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College on March 10 to meet with students and to speak with the community in “A Conversation With Bill Gates” at Bridges Auditorium. In that event, which was webcast live and is available at the bottom of this article, President David Oxtoby introduced Gates, while Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe led the initial discussion. Later, students lined up to ask their own questions of Gates.

This event was co-sponsored by the Harvey Mudd College Annenberg Speakers Series and the Pomona College Distinguished Speakers Series.

Prior to the Conversation, Gates met with several students, including nine Pomona Gates Millennium Scholars. Earlier in the day, five students from Harvey Mudd and Pomona, including Danny Low ’11 and Susannah Gibbs ’11, presented their research posters to Gates. Low's projects include HIV/AIDS education in Tanzania and tuberculosis treatment in Kenya, and Gibbs has worked on curriculum design for HIV education programs in Tanzania.

During the Q&A in Bridges, Klawe began by asking Gates what he thought of the Colleges and the students and faculty he met. His response focused on the research and projects he discussed with the students, saying that they “involved real research work done at the undergraduate level. Several of the projects, I think, will succeed in having a meaningful impact so the depth of work that’s being done I would normally think of as graduate work.”

The conversation then covered what makes Gates optimistic about the world today (innovation) and his work with the Gates Foundation, why he wants to be a “troublemaker” when it comes to making progress on stopping the spread of AIDS internationally, the logistic and financial difficulties of bringing new vaccines and medicines to poor countries, and what college major Gates would choose were he 18-years-old today.

After their discussion, a handful of students asked Gates their own questions. Topics included:

  • the Giving Pledge , a pledge created by the Gates and Warren Buffet which asks extremely wealthy people to pledge to give away the majority of their wealth via philanthropy;
  • the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that would grant residency to undocumented students who graduate from high school in the U.S. and spend two years in the military or earn a Bachelor’s degree;
  • the Gates Foundation’s involvement with agricultural research, including the development of genetically modified seeds, in Africa;
  • the best way to become involved with social change as a student;
  • how technology is helping the poorest of the poor;
  • and defense spending in the United States.

Bill Gates is founder and former CEO of Microsoft. The tech visionary and business entrepreneur’s leadership made Microsoft a personal computing powerhouse. In summer of 2008, Gates left his day-to-day role with Microsoft to focus on philanthropy. Maintaining that all lives have equal value no matter where they're being lived, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates to expand opportunity to the world’s most disadvantaged people. Collaborating with grantees and partners, the Foundation is focused on programs in global health and education, HIV/AIDS, libraries and agriculture research.