The campaign to expand UW CSE received a major boost today through a $5 million gift from longtime philanthropists Charles and Lisa Simonyi. The couple’s gift, which will help fund construction of a second building that will enable UW CSE to double annual degree production, is the largest personal donation received toward the project.
“The need for more computer scientists and computer engineers in the Puget Sound region to build on the legacy of innovation here is well known, and this new building will help the UW meet that need,” the Simonyis told UW News.
Charles Simonyi is an innovator and philanthropist who was the chief architect of core Microsoft programs such as Word and Excel and founded local productivity software company Intentional Software. Lisa Simonyi is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who holds degrees in corporate communication and international management and serves on the boards of multiple civic and cultural organizations. In recognition of the couple’s generosity, UW CSE will name one of the highlights of the new building — a “home away from home” for CSE majors — the Charles & Lisa Simonyi Undergraduate Commons. The space will enrich the student experience by providing a place for undergraduates to study and collaborate, and also help nurture a strong sense of belonging and purpose.
“We are pleased to support this expansion of the UW’s CSE program and are excited to see what new ideas and opportunities for collaboration will be inspired by the commons space,” the Simonyis said.
“Expanding access to computer science capacity is not only important to students looking to take part in the digital economy, but to every single employer in this state,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith, who leads the CSE campaign committee. “We hope that commitments such as the Simonyis’ gift will continue to inspire others to support this project, which is so vital to the future of Washington state.”
Many, many thanks to Charles and Lisa for their tremendous support of UW CSE and our students!