Returning the Gift
Mark Gorenberg grew up fascinated by technology.
At 14, he landed a position at the phone company, solving computer problems for the employees. “That’s when I really got the bug,” he says.
Gorenberg earned an MIT degree in electrical engineering in 1976, followed by a master’s from the University of Minnesota in 1979. After a stint at Boeing Computer Systems in Seattle, he headed for Stanford University, where he earned a master’s in engineering management in 1984. Eighteen years ago, he joined Hummer Winblad of San Francisco, the first venture capital firm to solely invest in software, where he is now a managing director.
Recently, Gorenberg, a longtime MIT volunteer, made a major gift to the Institute to support the Deshpande Center, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the Kennedy Scholars Program. The Deshpande Center helps make it possible for MIT faculty and students to bring innovative ideas to the marketplace.
“This is a unique center for entrepreneurship at MIT and for the world,” Gorenberg says. “It’s one of the best centers to convert research into commercial ventures. It is truly MIT moving forward its own technology.”
The McGovern Institute for Brain Research, launched in 2000 with a generous gift from Pat ’59 and Lore McGovern, is committed to using neuroscience to help people with brain disorders and to ultimately benefit humankind by improving human communication and understanding.
“Understanding the brain is one of the most important scientific efforts for the 21st century,” says Gorenberg, a member of the McGovern leadership board, who is thankful to the McGoverns for starting the Center and whose wish is that others will also support it. “My hope is that long-term we can corral these debilitating brain disorders that many people suffer with today.”
The Kennedy Scholars Program, which supports British graduate students to study at Harvard and MIT, began in the United Kingdom 42 years ago to honor the memory of President John F. Kennedy. Since 1966, more than 400 students have received the scholarship, 93 attending MIT.
“My long-term hope is that others will join to expand this extremely successful program,” Gorenberg says. “The scholar’s program has done phenomenal work to bridge the U.S. and the U.K., and it’s a great way to help build the global economy.
“MIT had a huge influence on my life and my career. I felt that MIT deserved for me to return the gift.”