October 1, 2014

Bill Gates Addresses Issues in Higher Education

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Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and the richest man in America, according to Forbes Magazine, addressed a packed Bailey Hall on topics such as higher education, technology and philanthropy Wednesday afternoon.

President David Skorton hosted the question-and-answer style presentation, asking Gates a series of questions before turning the microphone over for students to ask questions.

Skorton asked Gates to talk about college affordability, an area he said he believes Cornell needs to work on. According to Skorton, that lack of action was the “biggest regret” of his presidency.

“We did a lot about financial aid here but not the underlying cost matrix,” Skorton said. “You’ve thought a lot about education from a different perspective, do you have a call to action for us related to access and affordability, how to help us get there? Because we haven’t done a very good job.”

Gates said it was especially important to help state schools — which include three of Cornell’s undergraduate colleges — “control their cost structure.”

“If we look at the bulk of low-income students, where they are getting educated and what the cost pressure is against them, a lot of that is the public institutions,” he said. “Those tuitions have crept up fairly dramatically for two reasons: cost increases and state subsidization of their universities has gone down.”

President David Skorton moderates a question-and-answer presentation with Bill Gates at Bailey Hall Wednesday afternoon. Michelle Feldman / Sun Senior Editor