Microsoft Pledges $10M for New UW Computer Science Building

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other pledges of support, but for now the names and amounts have not been disclosed.

Of course, it’s no accident that Microsoft and its founders have backed the UW computer science department so generously over the years. It was the scene of major episodes in the company’s origin story. “The partnership between UW and Microsoft goes back more than 40 years—to the pre-Microsoft days when Bill Gates and Paul Allen were high school students at Lakeside and roamed UW’s computing facilities,” Lazowska said.

Microsoft supports computer science education efforts around the world, focusing on the best programs. “On that measure, the University of Washington is in the very top tier, which is fantastic,” Smith said.

More broadly, Smith said Microsoft cares about its home state. “We very much appreciate that our success here in Washington state is tied to everyone’ success here in Washington state,” he said.

The tech industry in Washington has been a vocal advocate for improving education from pre-Kindergarten through college, with particular emphasis on preparing Washington kids for jobs in the burgeoning tech industry.

While the industry has made consistent, clear calls for better public education, it has offered few public proposals for how to pay for it.

Last week, when the subject of a capital gains tax came up at the Technology Alliance annual luncheon, it was decisively shot down by the keynote speakers, Tom Alberg of Madrona Venture Group, and Steve Singh, CEO of Concur, as Geekwire reported.

Smith said Microsoft has neither supported nor opposed that specific revenue-raising proposal.

Asked whether groups like the Technology Alliance, where he is a board member, and companies like Microsoft should be advocating for specific solutions to raise revenue, Smith said: “We’re very sensitive to the need for the state budget to have more revenue. I do think you’ll find us being supportive of that. It doesn’t always manifest itself in leading the parade from the front row, but it is something that we’re sensitive to.”

He added that Washington’s strong economy is expected to increase state revenue by 8 to 10 percent in the next biennial budget. “One should ask whether there’s more revenue growth needed on top of that. We’re focused on both elements,” Smith said.

Smith said Microsoft is “very present in Olympia.”

“We’re engaged in what I hope people will look back at and say was a constructive conversation, and sometimes conversations are better off through the front page of the paper, and other times, the harder issues are better off discussed in other ways,” Smith said. He added, “At a time when we’re offering $10 million in this way, we’re definitely sensitive to the fact that other investments may be needed in a variety of other forms as well.”

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