Philanthropically-Minded Bill Gates Speaks at The Mabel Shaw Bridges Music Auditorium

By Leah Hochberg ‘14Guest Writer

On March 10, students flocked to the Mabel Shaw Bridges Music Auditorium at Pomona College to hear Bill Gates speak. The talk was open to 5C students as well as to the  greater Claremont community.

Gates, the founder and former CEO of Microsoft, was brought to the Claremont Colleges by the combined efforts of the Harvey Mudd College Annenberg Speakers Series and the Pomona College Distinguished Speakers Series.

The session began with a conversation between Gates and Harvey Mudd’s president, Dr. Maria Klawe. This conversation was followed by a question and answer session.

Gates and Klawe discussed myriad issues in the introductory conversation. Topics covered included vaccines, United States healthcare and HIV/AIDS. But Gates spent the majority of the conversation focusing on the topic of philanthropy.

Gates and his wife co-founded the eponymous Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation’s efforts are directed at decreasing poverty worldwide. In his talk, Gates emphasized the importance of helping the poorest people in the world.

Said Gates, “The best thing we can do for the poor is to make them not poor anymore.”

In answering questions about his personal philanthropic efforts, Gates discussed his commitment to the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a pact for billionaires to leave their wealth to charitable causes. Gates has promised to give away more than half of his net worth to charity.

Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, have worked alongside Warren Buffett to convince 60 billionaires in the United States to join the Giving Pledge. Some, like Buffett, will give away up to 99 percent of their wealth at their times of death.

Focusing on vaccines and education, Gates encouraged his audience to start and continue philanthropic work throughout the world. When asked why foreign philanthropic efforts were important, Gates said that it was a simple matter of our belonging to a single human race.

In addition to addressing national and international philanthropy, Gates talked about topical issues.

Gates spoke, according to attendee Jordan Stein (CMC ‘14), “elegantly and relevantly on world issues of today.”