Bill Gates Sr., founding Gates Cambridge Trustee, dies at 94

  • September 16, 2020
Bill Gates Sr., founding Gates Cambridge Trustee, dies at 94

Bill Gates Sr. with a group of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the 2011 Graduation Dinner.

Everyone associated with the Gates Cambridge Trust will be deeply saddened to hear of the death of Bill Gates Sr. on September 14th 2020.

As Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates Sr. played an absolutely key role in establishing the Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme at the University of Cambridge. He was a champion of the programme from its inception and served as a Founding Trustee for 12 years. During that time, he regularly met and inspired scholars in Cambridge and alumni around the world. His visits to Cambridge were the highlight of the year for scholars and Trust staff.

Bill Sr. had a major influence in defining the vision and aims of the scholarship, including ensuring the selection criteria included, in addition to academic excellence, a commitment by scholars to improve the lives of others and a capacity for leadership. His skills as a lawyer, alongside his natural warmth and humanity, set the programme on a path to success.

During an interview at the Commonwealth Club of California, Bill Gates Sr. was asked “What makes you speechless?”. He replied: “My trips to Cambridge to meet Gates Cambridge Scholars”. He described the programme as “awesome” and said the time he spends with Gates Scholars in Cambridge “is a week that I cherish greatly”.

In 2012, the Trustees established the Bill Gates Sr. Prize, an annual recognition of his contribution to the scholarship programme. The Prize is awarded to one or two outstanding current Scholars who, during their time at Cambridge, have fulfilled the programme’s selection criteria to an especially high level.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme, which celebrates its 20th anniversary year beginning on October 1st 2020, selects 80-100 scholars annually, supports 240 scholars in residence and has a global network of more than 1,500 alumni across the world. All are committed to improving the lives of others in myriad ways. Bill Gates Sr. achieved many things during an unparalleled life of service. Key among them is the Gates Cambridge programme, which will always be a living and continually growing legacy of passionate change-makers who all aim to live up to his ideals and impact.

Bill Gates Sr.’s wife, Dr Mimi Gates, is a current Trustee of the Gates Cambridge Trust and works tirelessly to ensure that his values continue to inform the vision and work of the programme.

Latest News

Affecting change for the Māori community

Self-determination lies at the centre of Māori culture. “It’s a way of life,” says Chris Tooley. That idea is also at the heart of his PhD studies at Cambridge and his subsequent work in Parliament and in the community. Chris grew up with a strong sense of being part of the Māori community. He has ancestral […]

On the COVID frontline

Three Gates Cambridge scholars who have been on the medical frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic will be speaking about their experiences at a virtual event next weekend. The event, organised by the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association, will be moderated by Elizabeth Dzeng, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the […]

New game tackles Covid conspiracies

A new online game that puts players in the shoes of a purveyor of fake pandemic news is the latest tactic in the UK Government’s efforts to tackle the deluge of coronavirus misinformation that is misleading many and costing lives across the world. Launched to the public today, the Go Viral! game has been developed by the […]

“Democracy does not work on a ‘trust me’ basis”

When Jennifer Gibson started her MPhil at Cambridge in 2001 as part of the inaugural class of Gates Scholars, no-one knew what it meant to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Twenty years later, Jennifer is now a human rights lawyer focused on national security issues, something she never could have anticipated, but which she credits in no small part […]