Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has made a massive gift to his alma mater, Harvard, that will enable its computer science faculty to grow 50 percent by adding 12 new professors. Ballmer told the Harvard Crimson that his goal is to see the university’s computer science department rival its peers at MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and maybe U.C. Berkeley.
Ballmer declined to specify the amount of the donation, but the Harvard Crimson notes that professorships at the university cost about $5 million to endow, which means that it was probably around $60 million.
Computer science is currently the fifth largest undergraduate concentration at the school, where the number of computer science majors has tripled over the last five years. The department currently has 24 professors.
Ballmer told the Crimson that he started discussing the donation with Harvard president Drew Faust the same day he retired from Microsoft in February. Despite the significant size of Ballmer’s gift, the department’s rapid growth means that space constraints at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) may delay the new hires. A new building is under construction to house the SEAS, which plans to move in 2018 to give Harvard’s next generation of developers, developers, developers more room to breathe.
This isn’t the first time Ballmer has donated to Harvard. In 1996, he gave $10 million to the school in a joint gift with Bill Gates, who contributed $15 million toward costs for the building of the Maxwell Dworkin, which currently houses Harvard’s electrical engineering, computing, and communications programs.