DURHAM — Melinda Gates, philanthropist and Duke graduate, will give the May commencement speech at her alma mater, the university announced Wednesday.
Gates has two degrees from Duke – a 1986 bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics and a 1987 master’s in business administration. She served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2003. She will give the speech at the May 12 graduation ceremony at Wallace Wade Stadium on the Duke campus.
She is the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and worked at the company from 1987 to 1996. Since then she has been an active philanthropist. She is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has awarded more than $26 billion in grants in the U.S. and around the world in the last 18 years.
At Duke, the Gates foundation has been a huge donor. It awarded $46.5 million to Duke researchers for the development of an HIV vaccine. It gave $10 million for financial aid, $20 million for a scholarship program and $35 million for the French Family Science Center, named for Melinda Gates’ family.
The foundation, along with the Duke Endowment, also supported the $30 million DukeEngage program that has provided 2,000 Duke students with summer service experiences across the globe.