Duke alumna Melinda French Gates to resign from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

<p>Melinda Gates addresses the crowd at Duke's 2013 Commencement Ceremony.</p>

Melinda Gates addresses the crowd at Duke's 2013 Commencement Ceremony.

Duke alumna Melinda French Gates announced her decision to resign from her role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in a Monday morning Instagram post.

French Gates, Trinity ‘86 and Fuqua ‘87, co-founded the foundation with her then-husband Bill Gates in 2000 to work towards improvements in healthcare, education and wealth inequalities worldwide. In that time, the organization has made $77.6 billion in grant payments, making it one of the world’s leading philanthropic initiatives. 

The foundation has historically been one of Duke’s largest benefactors.

In 1998, the foundation donated a $20 million gift to support the University Scholars Program, which fosters interdisciplinary studies and collaboration between undergraduates and graduate schools. In 2002, it provided $35 million for the French Family Science Center.

The foundation made two gifts to Duke in 2007, first donating $10 million to support scholarships for undergraduates and students at the Fuqua School of Business and later contributing $15 million to endow DukeEngage, the University’s global service outreach program. In 2015, it donated $20 million to the Duke Global Health Institute.

French Gates is one of the University’s most prominent alumni, receiving her bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics in 1986 and Master of Business Administration in 1987. She later served on Duke’s Board of Trustees between 1996 and 2003 and was the 2013 commencement speaker

The fate of the foundation was brought into question after Gates and French Gates announced their divorce May 2021. They decided to undergo a trial period through 2023 to determine if they could work together as co-chairs.

“I am sorry to see Melinda leave, but I am sure she will have a huge impact on her future philanthropic work,” Gates wrote in a Monday statement posted to X.

French Gates’s resignation will be effective June 7. Gates will become the sole chair of the organization, which will be renamed the Gates Foundation

In her Instagram post, French Gates wrote that she is “immensely proud” of the work she and Gates have accomplished and the work the foundation continues to do to “address inequalities around the world.” French Gates added that she is confident that the foundation will remain in “strong shape.”

As part of her separation agreement with Gates, French Gates will receive $12.5 billion for her own charitable work, which she plans to dedicate to initiatives empowering women and families around the world.

“This is a critical moment for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world,” she wrote. “Those fighting to protect and advance equality are in urgent need of support.”

Kate Haver | University News Editor

Kate Haver is a Trinity first-year and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.      


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