Harvard Deserves Steve Ballmer’s Millions

Virginia Postrel:

Now that he’s retired as chief executive officer of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer has time for popular billionaire pastimes. First, he bought a basketball team for $2 billion. Now he’s gotten into big-bucks philanthropy.

Ballmer and his wife, Connie, are giving $50 million in unrestricted funds to bolster the endowment of the University of Oregon, her alma mater. (She’s also on the university’s board of trustees.) They’re kicking in a seemingly comparable amount to significantly expand the computer science department at Harvard University, from which he received his undergraduate degree in 1977. The gift will allow Harvard to add a dozen computer science professors, bringing the department to 36 faculty, compared with 55 next door at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (The exact sum wasn’t disclosed, but when the Harvard Crimson estimated $60 million — 12 slots at an endowment of $5 million each — Ballmer called the numbers “pretty good.”)