Coming on Board


On September 30, 1996, Melinda French Gates, a member of the MBA Class of 1987, was named to the Duke Board of Trustees, the University's chief governing board. The following article, reprinted from Duke's Dialogue newspaper, followed the announcement.

Gates Joins Trustees
Duke alumna starts term in December
Duke alumna and businesswoman Melinda French Gates of Medina, Wash., has been elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees, officials announced Monday. She will join the 37-member board at its December meeting, filling the five-year term left vacant when Rex Adams accepted the deanship of Duke's Fuqua School of Business.

The election occurred Saturday at the conclusion of the board's annual fall meeting. Trustee Chairman John A. Koskinen said Gates will bring many strengths to the board.

"Melinda French Gates is knowledgeable about technology - she's an experienced businesswoman - and has strong interests in instructional technology and the use of computers across the university," he said. "I am especially pleased that Ms. Gates is from an area of the country of growing importance to Duke and its alumni."

Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane said Gates "also brings to the board the perspective of a younger alumna at a time when we are making concerted efforts to reach out to the alumni who have graduated since 1980 and who comprise a very large proportion of our alumni base. Melinda Gates will bring valuable insight to our board, and I look forward to working with her."

Born and raised in Dallas, Gates earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke in 1986 and an M.B.A. form The Fuqua School of Business in 1987. While an undergraduate, Gates served on the Freshman Advisory Council, was named to the Dean's List and led tours of the campus for prospective students. She also was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

She has been an active alumna since her graduation, returning to Duke in both personal and professional capacities. From 1988-91, she served on the Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee. Later, Gates returned to Fuqua to recruit for Microsoft Corp. She resigned in May from her position as general manager of information products at Microsoft to devote more time to her family and charitable interests.

She began her career with Microsoft in 1987, serving as both product manager and general manager with oversight responsibilities for the development of may of Microsoft's multi-media products, including Encarta, an encyclopedia product, and Cinemania, a movie guide. She also worked on several of the company's other software programs, including Microsoft Word for MS-DOS and for Windows, Microsoft Works and Microsoft Publisher.

In 1994, she married Microsoft founder, chairman and CEO Bill Gates. She held the title of general manager of information products at the time of her retirement to care for their first child, Jennifer Katherine, born in April, and to focus on community service work.

Gates has been involved in numerous charitable projects and organizations. She is a former board member of the Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic Fund, an organization that raises money for these national parks, and a former board member and major contributor to the capital campaign of the Village Theater in Seattle. She continues to serve on the advisory committee for SeniorNet, an on-line computer community for the elderly.


exchange, winter 1996 contents page new-fashioned business, jay mednikow '90