September 28, 2014

EDITORIAL: Building on Bill Gates’ Visit

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On October 1, Bill Gates will visit Cornell for a day to attend the dedication of Gates Hall, the new Computing and Information Science building partly funded by a $25 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also expected to engage with researchers and students in computer science and agricultural sciences and engage in an afternoon forum on higher education with President David Skorton at Bailey Hall. We at The Sun eagerly await the arrival of this notable entrepreneur and philanthropist to Cornell, and hope to engage in a valuable conversation on the important issues he will address. At the same time, we are slightly disappointed that opportunities for students to see this inspiring figure in person will be very limited.

Bill Gates may not be a Cornell alumnus, but his foundation has been a large benefactor of various research and outreach efforts at Cornell. Beyond the donation for the construction of Gates Hall, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided over $111 million in grants to Cornell for research on disease, food security and agricultural development, with an emphasis on research that helps stabilize production of staple crops and family health in developing countries. The foundation’s focus on “tough problems” and its global reach stem from its visionary founders, and we are excited to have one of the world’s foremost visionaries on campus.

The limited scheduled public appearances of Bill Gates, however, have partially dampened our excitement for his visit. Due to choices in venue and timing, most students will not have the chance to see Bill Gates in person, let alone attend the forum on higher education. Given the heightened interest and that the discussion is on issues pertinent to students, we at The Sun believe that a larger venue should have been chosen to allow as many students as possible to come together and participate in the event. While this suggestion comes too late, we hope that future event organizers consider the potential demand that such a high-profile visitor will induce when deciding on potential venues. For Bill Gates’ visit, those who were unable to receive a ticket to Bailey Hall will be able to watch the livestream the event on CornellCast. We encourage everyone in the Cornell community to join the conversation.