Microsoft invests in the liberal arts and sciences
Microsoft Corporation has made a generous grant to Reed College in Portland, Oregon. The $500,000 grant demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to the liberal arts and sciences as well as to the diverse skill set its graduates bring to the tech sector.
Kurt DelBene, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Microsoft and a Reed College trustee, states, “Tech companies like Microsoft need people with the kind of adaptable knowledge, ingenuity, and problem-solving skills that we find with graduates from liberal arts and sciences colleges like Reed.” DelBene, who has provided instrumental leadership in Reed’s fundraising efforts for computer science, came to national attention for his work on Healthcare.gov.
“It's a wonderful gift that has set the foundation for Reed to build our computer science program. The students are very eager to see how the program develops within Reed's tradition,” says Reed Professor of Computer Science Jim Fix. “Coming from the University of Washington, I know the kind of unexpected ties that can develop with Microsoft and the deep, positive impact those ties will have on our students. Microsoft is full of word-class researchers and innovators. It's great to see them extending their reach to Portland and to Reed College.”
Including the Microsoft grant, fundraising efforts are approaching $2.5 million, enabling Reed to hire additional faculty to support the high demand for computer science at Reed.
There are many benefits to recruiting computer science graduates from liberal arts colleges, and high among them is an opportunity for high tech companies to close the gender gap. Women comprise more than half of the students in Reed’s introductory computer science course and its Software Design Studio.
“All of us in the Reed community are deeply thankful to Microsoft for their support of computing and algorithmic thinking in our liberal arts setting,” says John R. Kroger, Reed’s president. “Reed graduates from a broad range of majors go on to be leaders in business and technology, and we’re very proud of that.” Roughly ten percent of Reed's working alumni hold jobs in the field of computer technology.
Reed is often associated with Apple founder Steve Jobs, but its connections with Microsoft also run strong. Approximately 100 Reed alumni have worked for Microsoft since its founding and it currently employs 38 alumni. The Gates Foundation has also provided support for the renovation of Reed’s library and Reed’s Educational Technology Center construction.