Stony Brook University Receives $150 Million Gift from Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation
Governor Cuomo Joins for Announcement of Largest Gift in SUNY History, Signs Approval of Stony Brook’s SUNY 2020 Plan
Stony Brook, NY, December 14, 2011 – Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., announced today that the University has received a $150 million gift from Dr. James and Dr. Marilyn Simons, and from the Simons Foundation. It is the largest gift in the history of Stony Brook University or to any one of the 64 institutions in the SUNY system, as well as one of the largest to any institution of public higher education. Present for the historic announcement, in addition to the Simons, were New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, and a number of elected representatives.
Jim Simons is Board Chair of Renaissance Technologies LLC, Chair of the Simons Foundation, and former Chairman of Stony Brook’s Department of Mathematics. Marilyn Simons is an alumna of the University and President of the Simons Foundation. Dr. Stanley said that the University worked closely with them to establish three priorities for their investment: research excellence in the School of Medicine; faculty hires through new endowed professorships; and recruitment of top level graduate and undergraduate students.
Specific initiatives to be funded by the gift in the School of Medicine include the creation of several entities, foremost among them being a Medical and Research Translation building on the Health Sciences campus. Programming for the MART will focus on research and care for the top health issues of our time including cancer, infectious disease, and neurological disease and disorders, as well as advanced medical imaging. The 250,000-square-foot facility, which will house a newly established Neurosciences Institute and a Center for Biological Imaging, among other programs, will create 1,200 direct and indirect construction jobs and several hundred new specialized research jobs. Expansions and enhancements to other departments, as well as to the University’s existing affiliation with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory (which Stony Brook co-manages), will also be supported.
The gift also enables an investment in human capital. Thirty-five endowed professorships across academic disciplines will be established over the next five years through a 1:1 matching challenge grant from the Simons Foundation. Further, the Simons Fund to Support Graduate Students will be created to benefit some 40 young scholars in the University’s graduate programs. Funds will also be allocated for merit-based scholarships for undergraduate students.
“This gift represents a milestone moment – a transformational moment – in the history of our young institution,” said Dr. Stanley, 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.”
Dr. Stanley also expressed gratitude to Gov. Cuomo, calling him a “true champion of public higher education,” and citing his leadership of NYSUNY 2020, an initiative designed to make the State
University of New York a leading catalyst for job growth in New York State, while strengthening the academic and research programs at SUNY University Centers.
Gov. Cuomo took the historic occasion to announce the approval of Stony Brook’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant application, a comprehensive plan designed to increase student access, attract and hire additional faculty and staff, launch economic development partnerships with industry in the Long Island region, and provide $35 million in capital challenge grant funds toward the construction of the MART center. $50 million of the cost to build the MART will also be supported by the Simons gift.
“I want to thank Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation for their immense generosity,” said Gov. Cuomo. “Our legislative achievements have paved the way to restore Stony Brook and all of SUNY as the true gems of the Empire State. At the same time, the gift will have a profound and everlasting impact on the Long Island region and the state, particularly in terms of health care, economic development, and human and intellectual capital.”
"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."
“Governor Cuomo challenged the SUNY university centers to help their communities overcome some of their greatest obstacles, and Stony Brook has risen to this challenge by putting forth a dynamic plan that maintains affordability, increases access, launches community partnerships, and builds a medical research facility that will expand the university’s research portfolio and create thousands of jobs,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Jim and Marilyn Simons’ gift to the Stony Brook campus will enhance the university’s plan and we are immensely grateful for their generosity. This is truly a proud day for Stony Brook University, for SUNY, and for all of New York State.”
Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at SBU, echoed these sentiments, adding that the MART is “vital to the future of both Stony Brook and health care in the Long Island region. Every top tier AAU institution has made robust investments in the life sciences in the past decade, and each is also striving to link the physical sciences, mathematical sciences and engineering with life and biomedical sciences. With the new Simons gift, and specifically with the funds for the MART facility and corresponding human capital, Stony Brook students, scientists and physicians will be enabled to work side by side to bring research to the marketplace more efficiently and quickly.”
The Simons family and the Simons Foundation have provided more than $300 million in contributions to Stony Brook over the past 20 years to support a number of academic initiatives, including the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, which was established with a $60 million gift in 2008. At that time, it was the largest gift to Stony Brook and any SUNY institution. Other contributions from the Simons and their Foundation have benefitted summer institutes on string theory, workshops, and a lecture series related to math and physics. In 2006, in the wake of federal funding cuts, the Foundation and a group of
Students seeking their MD/PhD in the School of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program at Stony Brook were energized about the Simons Gift and the opportunity to one day work within the new MART center.
Eileen So Carpenter, a fifth year MD/PhD student in the program currently working on her PhD in pharmacology, said, “I believe that a translational research center is a necessity for Stony Brook to maintain its competitive academic standing. While the advantages are obvious, one very important benefit is the physician-scientist faculty that MART will be able to recruit, which will allow for more research collaborations and mentoring.”