Gates heads back to Harvard

blog The Ivy League school by the Charles River taps its most famous dropout to be the principal speaker at this year's commencement.

Some of us do the whole four years. For others, a college degree just isn't a ticket they need to punch before setting out to build an empire and change the world.

Harvard University has announced that Bill Gates, the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft and not coincidentally the world's richest man, will be the principal speaker at this year's commencement ceremony on June 7.

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Gates is a semi-alum that Harvard can be proud of.

Microsoft makes over $44 billion in revenue a year (never mind those bothersome antitrust charges). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity he and his wife started, donates more than $3.6 billion to global health organizations and $2 billion to educational programs worldwide. While Gates will remain Microsoft chairman, he plans to step down in 2008 to devote himself full-time to his charity work.

He's both a family man and a knight.

But there is a sweet irony to Harvard's embrace.

Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975 (his junior year) to concentrate on developing Microsoft, the company he founded with Paul Allen.

Still, the university considers Gates "a member of the Harvard College Class of 1977," and this spring that class will celebrate its 30th reunion.

Among Gates' fellow Harvard alums is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whom Gates met as an undergrad.

According to Harvard, Ballmer lived down the hall at Currier House.

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