Steve Ballmer Donation Will Double Harvard Computer Science Faculty

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Ex-Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer has a soft spot in his heart for his alma mater Harvard University. Harvard announced on Wednesday that Ballmer was making a donation to endow 12 new professorships at Harvard, a move which would increase the department’s faculty by 50%, from 24 to 36.

Ballmer did not publicize the exact amount of the donation, but according to the Harvard Crimson,  professorships at the university cost about $5 million to endow, which means that it was probably around $60 million.

Of note, computer science is the fifth most popular undergraduate major at the school, and the number of comp sci majors has more than tripled over the last five years.

Interview with Steve Ballmer

Ballmer sat down for an interview with the Harvard Crimson on Wednesday. “I believe in Harvard,” Ballmer said.. “I went to school here and I love the place, and I believe in the power of technology to make a difference.”

He also noted he was “all in” on this computer science faculty expansion at Harvard.

“Right now I think everybody would agree that MIT, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon are the top places [for computer science],” Ballmer commented, adding that some would also include the University of California at Berkeley. “I want Harvard on that list.”

Ballmer also highlighted his continuous service to the university. “When I was a senior, they asked four of us to run the fundraising efforts for the class of ’77,” he said. “I’ve been on my class committee since 1977, continuous service. Steve Ballmer’s been a friend of Harvard since the day I graduated.”

Harvard comp sci department expansion

The computer science department at Harvard is already slated to move (along with ) to a new campus in Allston, Mass. in a few years. However, faced with increasing numbers of instructors and students choosing to major in the field, administrators and faculty members have expressed worries about space availability now in the years before the Allston move.

David C. Parkes, area dean for Computer Science, has already noted that space constraints will limit the department’s hiring timeline following Steve Ballmer’s gift.

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