William H. Neukom, a member of the Dartmouth Class of 1964, became a partner in Bill Gates' father's Seattle law firm in 1979, and was asked to represent the then 12-person company, Microsoft, that had just moved to Washington state.
After six years as outside counsel, Mr. Neukom joined Microsoft in 1985, and went on to build one of the most respected corporate law departments in the country, from an initial staff of five to more than 600 attorneys and support personnel. Eventually, he became the executive vice president of law and corporate affairs at Microsoft, and spent a total of 24 years at Microsoft, 17 of them as Microsoft's general counsel and chief legal officer, managing the companies legal, governmental affairs and philanthropic activities. He rejoined Preston Gates & Ellis as a partner in 2002; the firm recently merged to create Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP.
He was a Dartmouth Trustee from 1996 to 2007, and chair of the Board of Trustees from 2004-2007, at which time he pledged the initial gift to create the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth. The commitment, made in honor of his family, is the largest gift in Dartmouth’s history for an academic program. Part of Neukom’s gift is a challenge to other supporters of the college to raise additional endowment funds that will ultimately provide the funding needed to launch a full range of Institute activities. Mr. Neukom was elected President of the American Bar Association from 2007-2008, during which he initiated the World Justice Project.
Mr. Neukom says "I learned how to try to think critically and write clearly while at Dartmouth, thanks to attentive faculty and bright classmates, and I fell in love with its 'sense of place' in that welcoming and beautiful part of upper New England." Three of Neukom's children have attended Dartmouth.
Reflecting on his philanthropy, Neukom adds, "The college provided me a priceless liberal arts education, and as I continued to learn about the remarkable academic experience it provides for its diverse student body and faculty, I wanted to do something significant for Dartmouth. Investing some Microsoft equity in computational science seemed natural and appropriate."
Last Updated: 6/4/12