February 6, 2014

Gates Foundation donates $1 Million to UW School of Law to support public service

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $1 million gift to the University of Washington School of Law in honor of William H. Gates Sr.’s 88th birthday. The gift will be used to fund efforts to support and expand public service law activities on campus. Gates Sr. received his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1950.

William H. Gates Sr. with Public Service Law Program graduates, class of 2011
William H. Gates Sr. with Public Service Law Program graduates, class of 2011

"We are profoundly grateful for the Gates Foundation’s incredible gift and continued support of our law school," said Kellye Testy, James W. Mifflin Professor of Law and Dean at UW Law. "The Gates family has been an extraordinary partner in our efforts to reinforce public service as a core value of our law school, and it is an honor to collaborate with them on efforts to promote justice and serve the common good."

The William H. Gates Public Service Law Program was established in 2005 with a founding gift from Bill and Melinda Gates who wished to honor Gates Sr., a prominent Washington State attorney, for his career-long dedication to public service. The program awards five full scholarships on an annual basis to first year students entering the UW School of Law J.D. program in exchange for a commitment to work in public service for five years following graduation.

Continued support from the Gates Foundation from that time has led to the development of a centralized hub for all public service and public interest programs at the law school. Activities include providing public service advising for law students and alumni, supporting student organizations focused on public service/interest, enhancing collaborations with legal services and community organizations, and administering a pro bono honors program.

Gates Sr. provided support for the hiring of an Assistant Director in 2010 to support these expanded activities and the most recent gift from the Gates Foundation will ensure that this position, which was scheduled to expire in 2015, will be in place for another ten years.