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Press Release


Stony Brook Announces $25 Million Gift From Renowned Former Math Chair Jim Simons

May 8, 2006 - 9:17:00 AM

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STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 8, 2006 -- Jim Simons, a world-renowned mathematician who as Chair built Stony Brook University's Mathematics Department into one of the best in the nation, announced today that the Simons Foundation is donating $25 million to the University -- the largest single cash gift in its history and, in fact, the largest single cash gift ever given to any SUNY institution.

Simons, President of Renaissance Technologies, a private investment firm located in East Setauket, N.Y., has undertaken numerous philanthropic causes related to math, science and autism. Together with his wife, Marilyn, he manages the Simons Foundation, a charitable organization devoted to scientific research.

"Marilyn and I have a relationship with Stony Brook University which stretches back to 1968, when I arrived to chair the Department of Mathematics," Simons said. "A few years later I met, courted and married Marilyn, who had completed her undergraduate studies at Stony Brook and went on to receive her Ph.D. from their Department of Economics. Since that time we have remained involved and watched the institution develop into a first class public research university. Among the University's strongest areas are mathematics and physics, and it is on these that our gift will be focused.

"During the past thirty years mathematics and physics have grown increasingly intertwined. This is particularly true in the cases of string theory, quantum field theory and cosmology, which have all depended upon and stimulated advanced work in geometry and topology. Buttressed by its close relationship with Brookhaven National Laboratory and building on a fine faculty already in place we believe our gift can help propel Stony Brook into the very top rank in these central fields."

(l. to r.) Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny, Dr. Jim Simons, Stony Brook Foundation Chair Richard L. Gelfond, SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan
"Jim has extraordinary vision," said Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny. "He understands the critical need for support of education, particularly in science and mathematics, in America. His generosity paves the way for Stony Brook to explore new frontiers in education and research, now and in the future."

Dr. Simons was Chair of Stony Brook's Department of Mathematics from 1968-76 and was largely responsible for shaping its reputation as one of the best departments of its kind in the nation; the graduate math program was ranked 26th in the US News & World Report ratings released last month. He also has supported several academic initiatives at Stony Brook, including an annual workshop in mathematics and physics, and a lecture series related to those topics.

Last month, Dr. Simons announced a $13 million contribution to support research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is co-managed by Stony Brook.

"Dr. Simons' generosity, support and vision have for years been a contributing factor to the success of Stony Brook University and the SUNY System," said SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan. "This latest contribution from Dr. Simons will enhance the many successful programs underway at Stony Brook University, which employs one out of every seven SUNY faculty, statewide, and is one of the most prestigious research centers in the nation."

The Simons gift comes as Stony Brook is conducting its $300 million capital campaign, the first in the University's history. The gift increases the total raised so far to $165 million. It also represents the second largest gift of any kind given to Stony Brook and the third largest of any kind to a SUNY college or university; computer software entrepreneur Charles B. Wang built a $52 million Asian and Asian American Cultural Center on the Stony Brook campus that opened in 2002 and EDS, an information technology services company, donated $53 million of "in kind" software to the University of Buffalo in 2003.

The contribution also comes as Stony Brook is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The University opened in 1957 in Oyster Bay, Long Island, as a college for teachers in mathematics and science.

"Jim Simons has been a driving force in Stony Brook's success for many decades," said Richard L. Gelfond, Chair of the Stony Brook Foundation Board. "His passion and commitment are infectious. His extraordinarily generous gift will help continue the climb of Stony Brook in the ranks of the elite institutions of the world."

The previous single largest cash donation given to a SUNY institution was a $10 million contribution to the Fashion Institute of Technology by former Kohl's executive Jay H. Baker and his wife, Patty, in 2001.

In 1982, Dr. Simons founded Renaissance Technologies, which has become one of the most successful hedge fund investment firms in the world with $12 billion in assets. The corporation finds practical applications for quantum mathematical models and applies them to financial and commodities markets. Earlier in his career he was a cryptanalyst at the Institute of Defense Analyses in Princeton, and also taught mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1975, he received the American Mathematical Society Veblen Prize in Geometry for work that involved a recasting of the subject of area minimizing multi-dimensional surfaces. A consequence was the settling of two classical questions, the Bernstein Conjecture and the Plateau Problem. Dr. Simons' most influential research involved the discovery and application of certain geometric measurements, now called the Chern - Simons Invarients, which have wide use, particularly in theoretical physics.

Dr. Simons is the founder and Chairman of Math for America, a nonprofit organization with a mission to significantly improve math education in our nation's public schools. He serves as Trustee of Brookhaven National Laboratory, The Institute for Advanced Study, The Rockefeller University, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. He is also a member of the Board of the MIT Corporation and Chair Emeritus of the Stony Brook Foundation Board.

Stony Brook will begin its formal celebration of its 50th Anniversary in Fall, 2006. Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook now encompasses 123 buildings on 1,100 acres. In the nearly fifty years since its founding, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 22,000 students and 1,900 faculty, and is recognized as one of the nation's important centers of learning and scholarship.

A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, the invitation-only organization of the best research universities in the country, Stony Brook has been listed as one of the "100 Best Values in Higher Education" among public universities, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and one of the best universities in the world by the London Times.

© Stony Brook University 2013

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