MARCH 2006: Home arrow Briefings arrow Latest arrow Gates Foundation Gives $33 Million to Aid Students in Public Service Law
Gates Foundation Gives $33 Million to Aid Students in Public Service Law Print

Bill, Melinda, and William Gates
Left to right: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, laugh as they surprise William H. Gates Sr., 49, 50, with an 80th birthday gift that will help UW students pursuing careers in public service law. Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The UW School of Law received a record $33.3 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for scholarships that will allow hundreds of talented students to pursue careers in public service law, the UW announced Dec. 1.

The William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholarship program—named in honor of UW Regent William H. Gates Sr., ’49, ’50—will, for the next 80 years, cover the expenses of five new UW law students each year who demonstrate a commitment to careers in public service. It is the largest single gift benefiting scholarships or fellowships in UW history.

Gates Sr. learned of the gift as a surprise on his 80th birthday. “We’re delighted to honor Bill Senior in this way,” says foundation co-founder Melinda French Gates. “He has been an incredible example to all of us, and we wanted to express our admiration and appreciation with a gift that connects him to future generations of committed, civic-minded students, and the ongoing work of the University.”

Gates Sr. earned his UW bachelor’s degree in 1949 and UW law degree in 1950, before embarking on a half-century of law practice marked by distinguished community service (see “Gates’ Way,” September 2004).

The Gates Public Service Law Scholarship program is designed to develop a group of highly committed attorneys who will stay engaged in public service.

According to the UW, many of today’s law students will graduate owing in excess of $70,000 in loans. The scholarship will cover the full cost of tuition, academic supplies and room and board. Candidates for the scholarship must demonstrate a commitment to public service law. Graduates who abandon the public service field or who earn salaries higher than those prevailing in public service law are expected to repay the scholarships as if they were loans.