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About the Gates family

Bill Gates, Sr. University of Washington

Bill Gates, Sr. University of Washington

The William H. Gates family has an unparalleled record of service to the University of Washington, the community, the region and the world. Bill attended the University of Washington on the G.I. Bill after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1949. He earned his law degree from the UW in 1950 and launched what would prove to be a long and successful career as a founding partner of the law firm Preston Gates & Ellis. After graduating, Bill married Mary Maxwell, whom he had met when both were students at the University.

A civic leader and philanthropist with a rich legacy of volunteerism, Bill Sr. served 15 years on the UW Board of Regents from 1997 to 2012 (being pronounced a regent emeritus at the end of his term), and as chair of the UW Foundation Board from 2001 to 2006. He also served on the UW Medical Center board, numerous committees, and was chair of the $2.68 billion Campaign UW: Creating Futures (2000-2008) and an honorary chair of the $6.3 billion Be Boundless – For Washington, For the World campaign (2010-2020).

Bill passed away in 2020, and the UW continues to mourn the loss. The values and principles he outlined in his book Showing up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime are closely held by the UW community and inspire volunteers, donors, and citizens here and around the world.

Mary Gates, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the UW in 1950, served on the UW Foundation Board of Directors, the UW Medical Center Board and the Foster School of Business advisory board. She was a UW Regent for 18 years and an outspoken champion of undergraduate education. Mary Gates Hall, which houses the UW’s office of Undergraduate Education, stands as a testament to her passion and leadership. Mary Gates Endowment for Students has supported more than 3,000 students since 1996, and its annual proceeds attract exceptionally able high school seniors to the UW, support student research with world-renowned faculty and develop student leadership potential through partnerships with faculty and community mentors. Mary passed away in 1994.

Bill and Mary’s children, Kristi Blake, Bill Gates III and Libby Gates MacPhee, have made outstanding contributions to the UW and to higher education in the State of Washington. Libby (MSW, 2018) is currently serving on the UW Board of Regents and has served on the boards of Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Seattle Foundation, and the UW Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center.

Kristi (BA in Business Administration, 1975) was appointed to the UW Board of Regents in 2006 and served two full terms, including as the Board’s chair from 2011-12. She also served on the UW Medicine Board and is a former member of the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, a state agency committed to increasing opportunities for Washington residents to obtain a university education.

Bill Gates III and Melinda French Gates have made financial contributions directly to the UW, as well as through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that are unmatched in UW’s history. Their support spans the entire UW, with a particular focus on UW Medicine and the School of Public Health. Their contributions established the Department of Global Health and advanced the UW’s work in population health through their support of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation as well as the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health. Additionally, they helped make possible facilities for the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering and the UW School of Law, provided scholarship funding for hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students and enabled the recruitment and retention of many of the stellar faculty members who make the UW a world-class institution.

In 1996, Bill married Mimi Gardner, who served as the director of the Seattle Art Museum from 1994 to 2008. In addition to serving alongside Bill as an honorary chair of the Be Boundless campaign, Mimi brought distinct perspectives and insight from her professional background in her role as a member of the College of Arts and Sciences and Jackson School of International Studies Advisory Boards. Bill and Mimi gave generously to student financial aid, the School of Law, the Evans School of Public Affairs, intercollegiate athletics, the arts, and diversity initiatives, among multiple other UW priority areas.