Microsoft is looking to assist Reed College in establishing its new computer science program sometime this year. Reed College began raising money to develop a modest computer science degree program for students that would include hiring two full-time faculty members to mentor the 110 current students enrolled in computer sciences courses.
Upon hearing the news, Microsoft responded by offering a $500,000 grant to accompany the $4.25 million Reed acquired from anonymous donors. At first glance, Microsoft’s donation to the Southeast Portland private college appears to be nothing more than another company initiative to promote its products and the continued pursuit of computer science education.
However, Microsoft has a vested interest in the college as it continues to produce a list of prominent residents and alumni who are helping change the landscape of technology. While the private college currently holds enrollment for roughly 1,400 students, it’s managed to issue degrees to 38 alums who work for Microsoft as well as students who have gone on to work at Twitter, Instagram, and Apple. Nearly ten percent of Reed graduates go on to work in or contribute to an expanding tech industry.
The wrinkle in the story is that, while the Microsoft and Reed College connection has been established and fruitful for the two institutions, Reed College is perhaps more known for its Apple connection. The college may not produce as many Apple employees as it does Microsoft ones, but it was home to the largest Apple affiliate in Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs did not graduate from Reed College and, in fact, dropped out to co-found Apple instead. Even as Reed College imbues the memory of the late Steve Jobs in enticing computer science students and utilizes donations from the likes of Microsoft, the program is said to not have any direct relationship to Microsoft or Apple, according to a report from OregonLive.
However, tangentially related, the newly created department is set to be named The Richard Crandall Chair of Computer Science. Crandall was both an inventor and Reed alum who just happened to be a longtime friend of Steve Jobs. Crandall’s Steve Jobs association may be only coincidental, but naming the departments after him puts Reed College in an ironic quagmire, honoring a physics professor and alumni who happened to befriend one of the world’s most glorified college dropouts.