Stony Brook University Receives Historic Unrestricted $500M Gift

The Simons Foundation gave one of the largest unrestricted endowment gifts in U.S. history to a higher education institution. Stony Brook can use the endowment funds wherever it sees fit.
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Published on June 6, 2023
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Photo Credit: John Griffin / Stony Brook University
  • Marilyn and Jim Simons and their foundation have given over $1.2 billion to the university since 1983.
  • Stony Brook was also recently selected to anchor the New York Climate Exchange, a climate research campus on Governors Island.
  • Stony Brook expects the gift to grow up to $1 billion, thanks to New York's endowment matching program.

Stony Brook University received one of the biggest higher education donations in U.S. history. This is the university's latest win after New York City selected it to anchor the city's climate research campus.

The Simons Foundation, founded by Marilyn and Jim Simons, gave the New York university an unrestricted $500 million gift on June 1. The unrestricted gift means the university can use the funding wherever it sees fit.

Stony Brook plans to use the funds for scholarships, endowed professorships, research, and clinical care.

Stony Brook expects the gift to grow to $1 billion, thanks to other philanthropy and the state's endowment matching program that will provide $1 in state funds for every $2 that is contributed to university endowments — up to $500 million.

"A world-class, public education has the ability to transform the lives of New Yorkers, which is why in this year's budget we created the first-ever matching fund for endowment contributions for SUNY's university centers," Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a press release.

"Time and again, Stony Brook University forges a bold path forward, from innovation happening at Brookhaven Lab to the economic development throughout Long Island."

Stony Brook said this gift cements the university's place as New York's flagship research institution. New York City also selected the university as the anchoring institution for the New York Climate Exchange, a new climate solutions hub, research center, and public campus on Governors Island.

Representatives from the Simons Foundation with people from Stony Brook University.
Photo Credit: John Griffin / Stony Brook University

Last month, the Simonses also donated $100 million to the Exchange project.

The Simonses started their Stony Brook philanthropy with a $750 gift in 1983. Since then, they and their foundation have committed over $1.2 billion to the university.

Their contributions have helped create the Renaissance School of Medicine; the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics; a science, technology, education, and math (STEM) scholars program; and nine endowed chairs and professorships in economics.

"As a Stony Brook graduate, I know firsthand the role that a quality education plays in the trajectory of one's life," Marilyn Simons said in the announcement. "I am proud of the education I received there. Jim and I want to ensure that Stony Brook continues to serve its students with the highest level of educational excellence and with world-class resources.

"The foundation's gift will also help give those from underserved communities the opportunity to reach their full potential. We look forward to seeing this institution continue to thrive."