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Microsoft Education

Bill Gates to Finally Receive His Harvard Degree 336

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the better-late-than-never dept.
coondoggie writes "It's not like he needs it to beef up his résumé, but the world's richest college dropout finally is getting his degree. Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, will speak at Harvard University's commencement ceremony in June and, like all commencement speakers, will receive an honorary degree from the institution. It's hard to guess if Gates, the wealthiest person in the world and co-founder of a company that brought in $44 billion in revenue last year, cares. But the programming whiz who once dropped out of Harvard will likely feel some sense of satisfaction."
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Bill Gates to Finally Receive His Harvard Degree

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  • Rich man's GED (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aqua OS X (458522) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:23AM (#18455359)
    I tend to view the bachelors degree as the high school diploma of the 21st century...
    so I guess that makes the honorary degree something akin to a rich man's GED.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)
      As a drop-out-done-good myself (probably doing better than anyone I ever went to school with as well as the teachers and administrators), I would probably react to an honorary degree with a big fuck you. Like someone who stuck it out on their own and made something great for themselves in the world inevitably need some stamp of approval from a bunch of nose-in-the-air academic snoots?
      • Re:Rich man's GED (Score:5, Informative)

        by neonmonk (467567) on Friday March 23, 2007 @04:01AM (#18455537)
        Stamp of approval?

        It's an honorary degree, it's more like saying "we recognise you as being prominent in this field and here's the proof."

        Not: "omglolwtf u didnt get a degree heres one now ur one of us!!1 lol"
        • by Bastard of Subhumani (827601) on Friday March 23, 2007 @04:53AM (#18455721) Journal
          Which field? I didn't know there was a subject called "monopology".
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by joshetc (955226)
          Most people strive to become sucessful to spite the fact that they have no degree. Myself included. I would absolutely refuse one should someone attempted to offer it to me.

          That said, being Bill Gates might be a different story. Hes got enough money to buy the damn school.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by neonmonk (467567)
            Yes, but he's giving a talk to people who are striving to get a degree. So he obviously sees it as something that's relatively worthwhile. He even tried to get one himself.

            I think you're putting too much stock into this "honorary degree," it of course isn't worth the paper it's written on and everyone knows that, including him.

            It's just nice to get recognition, who cares who it's from.

            That's all it is, recognition. If you're too high and mighty with your 'I did well in spite of having a degree Ha Ha Ha soci
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Raffaello (230287)
              Programming "whiz" [sic] is right - like cheese whiz. It was Paul Allen who was the wizard programmer, not Gates, who was always the businessman. Of course they wanted the colloquial abbreviation "wiz."
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                Bill Gates used to write compilers. I'm sure he's an above average coder- people who used to work at Microsoft in the 80's/early 90's have described Bill Gates' problem solving abilities as pretty solid. He'd help people solve a code issue every now and then.

                In the original software giants, a lot of the people up-high are solid programmers. Just because they're rich doesn't mean they're not self-made.
        • Re:Rich man's GED (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rikkards (98006) on Friday March 23, 2007 @07:37AM (#18456511) Journal
          Stamp of approval?

          It's an honorary degree, it's more like saying "we recognise you as being prominent in this field and here's the proof."

          Not: "omglolwtf u didnt get a degree heres one now ur one of us!!1 lol"


          Actually honorary degrees are more of a "we need someone to speak at our graduation and we will give you one as payment". Nothing more, nothing less. Kind of cheapens what the real graduates are getting IMHO.
        • by smchris (464899) on Friday March 23, 2007 @07:59AM (#18456663)
          It's an honorary degree, it's more like saying "we recognise you as being prominent in this field and here's the proof."

          Yup. He better not try to pass it off as a real degree on a job applicaton or he'll be in trouble.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aqua OS X (458522)
        Making more money then university faculty or administrative staff isn't very hard to do. You get into that line of work because you're making and impact and or getting solid benefits, not because you plan on owning a winter home in Aspen.

        And as for the "stamp of approval..." ... well, if you're attending a university for a stamp of approval you are, at the very least, not utilizing that resource properly.
        • Re: Your sig...

          I believe he said, "There's computers..."

          Be excellent to each other... and Party on! /me wiggles fingers in air guitar flourish

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As a drop-out-done-good myself (probably doing better than anyone I ever went to school with as well as the teachers and administrators), I would probably react to an honorary degree with a big fuck you. Like someone who stuck it out on their own and made something great for themselves in the world inevitably need some stamp of approval from a bunch of nose-in-the-air academic snoots?

        <rant>
        Let's not forget that while Bill Gates is a shining example to college dropouts everywhere, he still did not get to where he is today by his wits and ruthless business strategies alone. He also had to stand on the shoulders of the engineers and programmers that wrote Windows, MS Office, etc. and most of those people were precisely the type of nose-in-the-air snoots with a college degree who didn't follow his example and drop out. Now you can probably defend your self by pointing to the quality

      • Re:Rich man's GED (Score:5, Insightful)

        by StarvingSE (875139) on Friday March 23, 2007 @07:19AM (#18456443)
        Why does there seem to be such a big hatred for college degrees here on slashdot? I'm not trying to flamebait or anything, but it seems that every time there is a story about college (especially computer science programs), there's always a bunch of people who chime in on how a degree is useless.

        It's not useless. Most companies require it for you to be able to work for them. A college degree (earned, not necessarily honorary) is valuable in that it shows that you can dedicate yourself to something and accomplish it. Also, for most people it's the first time they are on their own to figure out their own lives. At least for me, the life experiences during college are more valuable than the actual education. The college experience can be invaluable for discovering yourself and finding out how you want to live the rest of your life.
        • Re:Rich man's GED (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sobrique (543255) on Friday March 23, 2007 @07:28AM (#18456483) Homepage
          Easy answer? Sour Grapes.

          More indepth answer? If you assume a degree is synonymous with 'being qualified' you are incorrect. There are a large number of graduates who have yet to learn the 'tough lesson' that their degree doesn't actually carry much weight. So the Slashdot community is helpfully trying to get them focussed on the fact that a degree, or lack thereof, isn't a binary state factor. It's an enabler, and it's useful, but then... so is having spent 3 years 'in the industry' whilst everyone else was off getting their degree.

          • The other day my bf B. was telling me about a low-level tech candidate he had interviewed for some support work in his department. The guy had a great-looking resume that consisted mainly of "in-the-industry" experience. He "implemented" this, "organized" that...B. asked him about 20 questions in all. Mix-n-match. From very basic, to very complex issues, and no theoretical, textbook stuff. You had to be there to fix it. It was appropriate, given that this dude ws claiming most of his qualifications from fie
        • Re:Rich man's GED (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nharmon (97591) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:14AM (#18456775) Homepage
          It isn't that there is a hatred for college degrees, or even an attitude that they are completely useless. I think the attitude is that college degrees have unnecessarily become a "basic education" credential where the absence of carries with it a certain stigma. And I can certainly understand why people would be upset about that.

          Certainly college degrees aren't useless, but in the same respect they aren't completely necessary. I have a fairly well paying job without a bachelor's degree. However that being said, I am a part-time student pursuing a bachelor's degree, so obviously I do not view it as useless.

        • It's not useless. Most companies require it for you to be able to work for them.


          That argument makes no sense. It's like saying "Daylight savings time is not useless. It is used all over America and Europe, and if you didn't obey it, you would be getting in to work at the wrong time every day!"

          Just because something has become engrained (or legislated) into our culture doesn't make it inherently good or useful. I would expect that anyone arguing against the usefulness of a degree would also argue that emplo
        • I would say that many here have a similar experience to mine. I worked my way through school and thus before I had my degree I was working in the field. This experience made me the team lead over fresh out of school CS BS. They were taught how to please there prof's not how to code or the theory behind coding. This leads to seeing a working prototype as job done. CS courses seem to be very week in the other 66% of the job documenting and testing. Very few understood how to code as a group or the value
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by merlin262 (677269)
          I think it's just part of the slashdot demographic.

          Let me illustrate an average slashdot poster. I met a friend of a friend. The conversation went like this.

          "So, where do you work?"

          "I'm actually not right now"

          "Oh, so what school are you going to?"

          "I'm not going to college, the school messed me up"

          "Oh, ok"

          This person lives w/ their parents, and claims to enjoy "intelligent conversation". When you consider the number of self-styled experts that know everything on a subject, I'd say you have a large number
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rantingkitten (938138)
          That employers require a degree of people is not evidence that a degree is useful. HR departments are especially notorious for wanting to see degrees for jobs that don't require them, and in any case, the fact that "a degree" is often all that's needed is good evidence that it's useless. "You have a four year degree? Great, welcome aboard!" Of course, it's a degree in, like, anthropology or something, and you're trying to get jobs in the IT sector, but nobody cares, as long as you have a piece of paper
  • by Cocoshimmy (933014) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:28AM (#18455379)
    Bill Gates has already received honorary degrees from several other institutions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates#Awards_and _recognition [wikipedia.org]

    Yawn!!!
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Yawn!!!


      That's probably what I'd do at the commencement - read his book and heard his many interviews - it's discouraging that such a top figure in computing really never had anything inspirational to say - at least pertaining the field.

      Anybody else feel the same way? I mean, he's an okay speaker but not really that interesting.
      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Friday March 23, 2007 @05:06AM (#18455783) Homepage

        it's discouraging that such a top figure in computing really never had anything inspirational to say - at least pertaining the field.
        Gates' major achievements are as a businessman, not as a computer scientist. Not saying that he's stupid in that area; quite the opposite (e.g. given the speed he apparently designed MS BASIC with, he clearly has skill). However, he didn't actually invent BASIC (as a language) or even write MS-DOS originally. On the other hand, who can deny that he's a very skilled businessman?
        • by xtracto (837672) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:46AM (#18457035) Journal
          quite the opposite (e.g. given the speed he apparently designed MS BASIC with, he clearly has skill). However, he didn't actually invent BASIC (as a language) or even write MS-DOS originally

          But, how /many/ people do you know that have "invented" or wrote original software?, I know I wont be very popular saying this over here but *even* Linus Trovalds took Minix as the basis for Linux, and he didnt *wrote* all of the Linux kernel you know. Technical people should not only be judged by the number of lines they write but by the *overall* influence they have to their field.

          Bill Gates has had a really HUGE influence to the field (some good, some bad, but in my opinion, more good than bad). I would think that he deserves more like a Master degree... maybe *even* a PhD (although maybe he is not familiar with research methodologies).

          I know here in slashdot more than 50% of people do not like him but I think overall, after he dies he will be nicely remembered as the guy who introduced computers to the masses.
          • by Dogtanian (588974)
            That's true; but I'm saying that if you take Gates' CS achievements (or at least those relating to IT) versus his business achievements, the latter are the most significant. Or put another way, viewed in isolation, would his fame be anything like as great viewed solely on the basis of his CS work?

            I know here in slashdot more than 50% of people do not like him but I think overall, after he dies he will be nicely remembered as the guy who introduced computers to the masses.

            Undoubtedly the ability to run MS-DOS (and later Windows) on generic hardware contributed to competition in the PC market and the corresponding freefall in prices. Whether this was Gates' intent is debatable; sure

  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:29AM (#18455383) Homepage
    It's hard to guess if Gates, the wealthiest person in the world and co-founder of a company that brought in $44 billion in revenue last year, cares.

    Well, he certainly must care, as he's obviously not doing it for the money.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fishbowl (7759)
      Honorary degrees are never awarded to anyone with any likelihood of having a job interview or seeking a teaching or research job.
      • by eric76 (679787)

        Honorary degrees are never awarded to anyone with any likelihood of having a job interview or seeking a teaching or research job.

        Never?

        Then why do they typically specify "earned degrees" in the position announcements?

    • Maybe I'm cynical, but Gates isn't getting any younger or any poorer and the $22 billion endowment Harvard has doesn't mean they would turn down a "1% to my beloved alma mater" line item in his will.
  • by bunbuntheminilop (935594) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:30AM (#18455395)
    doesn't count! He'll never be able to get a CS job with that!
    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Friday March 23, 2007 @05:10AM (#18455799) Homepage

      He'll never be able to get a CS job with that!
      No, but he's one of the few people who might conceivably be able to meet such job requirements as "Window Vista (5 years experience)"...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by CaptainBJones (895857)
        You say that like its funny... I got a call from some recruiter (who saw my resume online w/ vista listed) that had a job opening (for a "major national software & storage company") that required a minimum of three years managing a mixed Windows Vista, XP and Linux envrionment. When I challenged him on the vista part since it has not been out that long he said he would call his client and see if the would be willing to waive the vista requirement. The recruiter called back the next day and said his c
  • Not a doctorate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:34AM (#18455419)
    I though that was the usual honourary gift to the successful.
  • by joeflies (529536) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:35AM (#18455423)
    now maybe he could get past the resume screeners and get a job at Google? It's good to see him do something with his life now.
  • by owlman17 (871857) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:40AM (#18455443)
    In other news, Harvard University has just been granted 10,000 honorary Vista licenses and 10,000 Office 2k7 licenses...
  • by pchan- (118053) on Friday March 23, 2007 @03:42AM (#18455453) Journal
    Finally his parents will get off his back to go back to school and do something with his life!
  • by gavink42 (1000674) on Friday March 23, 2007 @04:25AM (#18455599)
    Sure, going to college for 4 (or more) years can teach a person some good information. But the skills learned from life experience are usually much more important!

    I have no degree but take college courses (adult continuing education) that interest me. At some point in most of them, the prof will usually add a remark like: "...but of course we know that's not how it works in the real world."

    I'm not saying that they're teaching the wrong things in college, just that the average 18 year old will be learning mostly best-case theory. Most of the actual skills are learned during the early years in the workplace.

    Seems like it would be a better process to work in your desired field for a few years, then go for the degree. Or, at least participate heavily in an apprentice program. But I do realize that some career fields are not compatible with this paragraph.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sarahbau (692647)

      Seems like it would be a better process to work in your desired field for a few years, then go for the degree.

      I originally dropped out of college, and worked a few jobs somewhat in my field, but when I wanted to move into anything more, I always got responses like "while your resume shows a lot of the experience we're looking for, you don't have a degree." I wouldn't even get interviews most of the time, just because I didn't have a piece of paper that said I know how to learn. It didn't matter that I had 2-3 times the experience they were looking for. So I decided to go back to school. Now that I'm more mature, a

    • I couldn't agree with you more. When I was 17, I dropped out of high school (right before Senior year started). I was tired of the bullshit and unchallenged. I was working part-time at a web design firm as their sole Sysadmin (desktops and servers). 7 years later (I turned 24 last November) I'm running a hosting division at a large consulting company, managing a team of people and 1000s of servers (and a network infrastructure most lust after). I have no certs and no college degree (although I have some gen
      • by drsquare (530038) on Friday March 23, 2007 @05:50AM (#18455991)

        Today, family and friends ask me to not mention any of this to their kids finishing high school/starting college.
        That's because nearly all dropouts end up working deadend menial jobs their entire lives.

        It's not the dot-com era anymore, companies aren't going to hire 17 year old dropouts as sysadmins. Your case was a complete one off, you may as well advise people to buy lottery tickets for a living.
      • What skills are involved in admining boxes?

        Things I learned in college

        1. algebra
        2. calculus
        3. data structures
        4. algorithms [sorting, searching, etc]
        5. compiler theory
        6. numerical analysis
        7. and a host of practical courses, etc.

        And what do I do for a living? Software developer in the field of cryptography. So I need the math, algorithms, etc, etc. Yeah, granted I too taught myself a lot of my skills [like crypto], but to say college was a total waste because I had to sit through a "intro to C" class is ignorant.

        Maybe if you had a job that required talent you'd be talking differently. I'm sorry, but setting up servers, changing network settings, etc, isn't exactly a skilled labour. I mean it's a job, but don't pretend you're some tech god because you can make Apache start and host a page.

        Sorry for knocking you off your high horse, but you're advice is ignorant and misleading.

        Tom
    • by drsquare (530038)

      Seems like it would be a better process to work in your desired field for a few years, then go for the degree.
      How do you get the job without a degree?
      • I never finished college (changed majors too many times to have enough credits for any one of them) yet my position lists an MIS and/or MBA as 'required'. It's called being good at what you do and working your way to the top.
  • by Rob Bos (3399) on Friday March 23, 2007 @04:36AM (#18455655) Homepage
    Love or hate the guy, he's certainly earned degree equivalency. Business Administration, most likely; they said in the article that Harvard doesn't announce which subject in advance.

    If it's computing science, then I'd probably have a few words to say.
    • there are many sub fields within it and I do not doubt he would qualify for many.

      it isn't all about algorithms and considering what some schools teach in CS these days...

  • by Upaut (670171) on Friday March 23, 2007 @04:41AM (#18455673) Homepage Journal
    At Bently College, when we gave Jerry from "Ben and Jerry's" ice cream and honorary degree, he brought with him a truck of free ice cream. So much so that every student and proffessor willing had a freezer stuffed with the stuff afterwards... What will Gates do, give all the students copies of WIndows Vista? Thats a bit like someone dousing the students with STD infected blood...

    Now who should get an honorary Harvard degree is Hugh Heffneir, for his buisness empire... Maybe he would pass the bunnies around...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      How choice that you mention dousing students with STD infected blood and passing the playboy bunnies around in the same post. Me thinks you haven't thought your cunning plan all the way through =)
  • What it also says (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swift2001 (874553) on Friday March 23, 2007 @05:31AM (#18455889)
    "We notice you've made a lot of money and are therefore wise. We also notice you're not getting any younger, and you're giving away money. If you see anything you'd like to endow, please be in touch."
  • He doesn't need it for his resume. Last I heard Mr Gates had started his own company.
  • An honorary degree in "programming whiz"/CS, business/economics or what he actually enroled for, law?
  • by cute-boy (62961) on Friday March 23, 2007 @06:05AM (#18456061) Journal


    Then maybe he'd have a better understanding of Ethics.

    -R
  • by Framboise (521772) on Friday March 23, 2007 @06:07AM (#18456067)
    From this page everything becomes limpid: http://www.siel.harvard.edu/2003/about/tour/classr ooms/maxw.jsp [harvard.edu] : "The Maxwell Dworkin building was built with funds donated by Microsoft Chairman William H. Gates III and Microsoft President Steven A. Ballmer, both members of the Class of 1977, in memory of their mothers, Mary Maxwell Gates and Beatrice Dworkin Ballmer. Maxwell Dworkin building opened in 1999 and, with its extensive office and laboratory space, will allow Harvard to double the size of its computer science faculty over the next several years."
  • by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Friday March 23, 2007 @06:07AM (#18456069)
    Bill gates, in a speech about fighting SPAM:

    An important thing about SPAM, if you're trying to filter it out, is that it's usually poorly targeted.
    (Slide of Bill Gates' inbox comes up, showing "Ref1nance your morgage!").

    However, sometimes they hit just by random chance.
    (Next message in inbox is about "U.N.I.V.E.R.S.I.T.Y.D.I.P.L.O.M.A.S").
  • by RWarrior(fobw) (448405) * on Friday March 23, 2007 @06:11AM (#18456093)
    Now if you really want to be somebody, get an honorary degree from Harvard outside of normal commencement exercises. You join this list of luminaries (plus a few others nobody born after World War II has heard of):
    • George Washington
    • Marquis de Lafyette
    • James Monroe
    • Andrew Jackson
    • Winston Churchill
    • Nelson Mandela
    That's real company.
  • Yet further proof that business ethics is an oxymoron, and one that business schools are at best one to pay lip service to? It would have been a more powerful statement had they considered him and refused to give him a degree based on how he has profited on his organization's unethical accomplishments. Not that I expect any other publicly traded company to be in it for the good will of the people, but Microsoft has certainly been rather flagrant about its practices. Apparently these are the values that H
  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday March 23, 2007 @07:37AM (#18456515)
    Went back to collage under a pseudonym and got his own damned degree.
  • by DaMattster (977781) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:28AM (#18456883)
    These honorary degrees are nothing but another PR stunt. Hey, maybe this is troll material, but having Bill Gates as a potential wealthy donor on your side never hurt anyone. Give him the honorary degree, make him feel very good, and donations, donations, donations. Had Bill Gates not risen to become the chairman of Microsoft, Harvard would have paid him no more mind than a fly on the wall. As other slashdotters have pointed out, Steve Wozniak went back to college and earned his degree.
  • ...will speak at Harvard University's commencement ceremony in June and, like all commencement speakers, will receive an honorary degree from the institution... Not quite. There is still one place where you have to earn your degree. [mit.edu]
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:30AM (#18456901) Journal
    "At the same ceremony Harvard honored Steve Balmer's Contributions by giving him a Chair."
  • by Anonymous Coward

    But the programming whiz who once dropped out of Harvard will likely feel some sense of satisfaction.
    Good for him, whoever he is. But what does that have to do with Bill Gates?
  • by quixote9 (999874) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:26AM (#18457467) Homepage
    I am not happy. That's my alma mater. (Well, not so alma, and not so mater either, if you get right down to it.) I'm glad that's not my graduation year. Imagine having to sit there and listen to this guy gas on about the value of hard work while he's kneecapping as many companies as he can get at, pushing for as many cheap H1-B workers as it'll take to put those nice little Harvard grads right out of a job, and generally just being Bill Gates.

    (I'll admit the Gates Foundation does good philanthropic work, but for that I credit his wife. I never heard of him doing that stuff before he got married.)
  • Programming whiz? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seandiggity (992657) on Friday March 23, 2007 @10:54AM (#18458653) Homepage
    "Programming whiz"? I've heard others say this also, but what exactly was Billy boy so good at (besides sending nasty letters [wikipedia.org] to early innovators)?
     
    I'm under the impression that he made his mark by announcing vaporware and then coming up with something quick (primarily using someone else's work), before showing it off to potential buyers (e.g. QDOS [wikipedia.org], Altair BASIC interpreter [wikipedia.org]).
  • by jjohn (2991) on Friday March 23, 2007 @11:19AM (#18459053) Homepage Journal
    I hope Mr. Gates understands that life is difficult for recent graduates. His first job post-degree will likely be an entry-level position without glamour or sufficient compensation. The dog-eat-dog world of corporate America isn't for everyone. Perhaps he won't get too put off by the whole thing.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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