The University celebrated a historic moment on December 14 as Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, and Jim and Marilyn Simons gathered at the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology to announce the Governor’s approval of Stony Brook’s $35 million NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant application and a transformational $150 million gift to the University from Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation. Jim Simons is Chair of the Simons Foundation, Board Chair of Renaissance Technologies LLC, and former Chair of Stony Brook’s Department of Mathematics. Marilyn Simons is an alumna of the University and President of the Simons Foundation.
“This gift represents a milestone moment–a transformational moment—in the history of our young institution,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., in expressing his immense gratitude to the Simons. “Everyone has a reason to celebrate and an opportunity to excel. It provides Stony Brook with infinite possibilities…the financial capacity to fulfill our potential and reach unparalleled heights in the areas of research, education and discovery.”
“Stony Brook gave me a wonderful chance in 1968 when I was hired as chair to build up the Department of Mathematics,” said Jim Simons. “That worked out remarkably well, and ever since, the University has had a special place in my heart. With an outstanding new leadership team in place and a strong commitment from the Cuomo administration to support public higher education, Stony Brook is in an excellent position to join the ranks of our nation’s truly great research universities. Marilyn and I are very happy to make an investment to speed Stony Brook on this course.”
“I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend such a fine state university. My Stony Brook education and the friendships I developed there as an undergrad and as a graduate student opened so many possibilities to me,” Marilyn Simons said. “We’re deeply grateful for all Stony Brook has given to us and very glad to be able to give back to such a great institution.”
The NYSUNY 2020 initiative provides a predictable tuition plan, recognizes Stony Brook’s unique needs as a research institution, and provides an infusion of $35 million in capital construction dollars. Under this plan, Stony Brook will hire more than 250 new faculty and 400 additional staff, and create thousands of jobs in the community. Also, a portion of the revenue raised from tuition and fees will be used to fund both merit-based and needs-based financial aid, ensuring that a Stony Brook education remains affordable.
The Simons gift is the largest gift ever to Stony Brook University and to public higher education in the State of New York. It is among the top 10 gifts to any public college or university in America. The gift will fund three major priorities: research excellence in the School of Medicine, faculty hires through new endowed professorships, and recruitment of top-level graduate students.
The Simons gift gives the School of Medicine the ability to grow in three research areas: neuroscience, infectious disease, and cancer. Growth and progress in these three areas will be achieved by expanding capabilities in the fields of biological imaging, genomics, and biomedical informatics. This also allows Stony Brook to leverage ongoing investments in math, physics, and computational biology, and it plays to strengths at our partner institutions—Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Stony Brook will build a new life sciences research building, the Center for Medical and Research Translation (MART), directly connected to the hospital, to facilitate contact between clinicians and scientists and serve as the hub for research in School of Medicine. Funded in part by New York State through the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program ($35 million) and the Simons Gift ($50 million), this eight-level, 250,000-square-foot building will be devoted to imaging, neurosciences, and cancer research. It will have 25 cancer biology-oriented laboratories, a 30-room cancer clinic, 30-station clinical infusion center, 300-seat auditorium, and new classrooms for teaching.
A significant component of the Simons gift will be used to provide matching funds for 35 new endowed professorships over the next seven years. This will require fundraising that goes beyond the Simons gift, and at least six donors have already been identified who are prepared to make gifts at the $1 million level for an endowed professorship.
Improving the quality of Stony Brook’s graduate students increases applications to programs and reduces the time to degree, particularly in the “underfunded” disciplines. To address this, the Simons Fund to Support Graduate Students has been created. A $10 million endowment will yield approximately 25 fellowships for Stony Brook’s best young students. These fellowships will dramatically improve the quality and quantity of research at Stony Brook.
A portion of the Simons gift, and some of the revenue generated through the NYSUNY 2020 initiative, will also fund merit-based scholarships and needs-based aid for undergraduate students as well. Together these initiatives will allow Stony Brook to offer the most generous financial aid package of any of the SUNY schools.
Finally, an additional component of the Simons gift is a matching fund in which first-time alumni gifts will be matched under a $1 million program designed to encourage graduates to give back to their alma mater and increase Stony Brook’s overall alumni giving.