This is an archived article.

August 7, 2001

Microsoft gives $7.2 million for new computer science building at UW

Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced today that the company has given $7.2 million toward a new building to house the University of Washington’s nationally ranked Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

Gates made the announcement with UW President Richard L. McCormick and Computer Science & Engineering Chairman Ed Lazowska after delivering the keynote address for the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, meeting this week in Seattle. Company officials commented that this donation was unique, as the gift represents the only time Microsoft has offered funding for an academic building and is not something the company expects to do with another university in the future.

“We see this donation as much more than an investment in a building,” Gates said. “We view it as an investment in the economic future of this region — one that will help keep Washington State on the cutting edge of the new economy.”

McCormick called the donation the result of a long and fruitful collaboration between the software company and the university.

“Microsoft’s generosity and sense of partnership has improved this university in many ways over the years,” McCormick said. “In critical areas, Microsoft has provided the boost that took us to the next level.”

Lazowska said the relationship with Microsoft has been of incalculable value in bringing the department to national prominence and will play a significant role in its continued growth.

“I’m extraordinarily grateful to Microsoft for this unprecedented investment in our future,” Lazowska said. “We collaborate extensively in research, in education and in regional and national leadership.” In addition to an annual UW/Microsoft Summer Research Institute that draws top researchers worldwide, Microsoft and the UW are linked by extensive research collaboration, including the sharing of a number of leading computer scientists who have cross appointments. The UW is also a primary supplier of technical employees to Microsoft.

The gift provides a significant boost to the capital campaign the department has launched to fund a building that will double the department’s total space and triple its lab space at a time when computing research has shifted toward experimental group efforts in laboratory-intensive environments.

With the additional space, scientists can better explore emerging technologies, including robotics and wireless computing and remain at the cutting edge in developing new applications. The facility will also bolster recruitment, allowing the department to continue to attract top students and faculty and undertake more large-scale collaborations.

Microsoft’s donation brings the total in funding for the $70 million building to $51 million, with $21 million of that in private donations. The rest is in institutional and state money. The building will provide 75,000 square feet of new space for the department and an additional 10,000 square feet of space for the university’s Department of Electrical Engineering.

The new building will be located on Stevens Way, just east of Sylvan Grove, filling the spot the Old Electrical Engineering Building used to occupy.

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For more information, contact Lazowska at (206) 543-1695 or www.cs.washington.edu/building/drawings/.