Stony Brook University receives $150M gift

James Simons addresses a gathering at the Simons James Simons addresses a gathering at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at the Stony Brook University. The building was started by a gift from the James and Marilyn Simons Foundation. (Oct. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / John Dunn

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Stony Brook University is being granted $150 million, the largest gift in the school's history, according to a published report.

The Simons Foundation's gift, said The New York Times, is the sixth-largest donation ever to a public university, citing The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"I want to thank Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation for their immense generosity," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is scheduled to hold a news conference on campus with the Simonses Wednesday at 11 a.m., where Cuomo will also announce the school is the recipient of a separate $35 million state grant.

"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," Cuomo said.

The Simonses' gift more than doubles a $60 million donation the couple's foundation gave in 2008. The campus, where James Simons once chaired the mathematics department, hosts the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics.

The other state funds, part of the SUNY 2020 initiative, are designed to boost academics and economic development, sources close to the governor said Tuesday.

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When it applied for the SUNY 2020 grant, Stony Brook said the money would be used to help fund an ambitious plan to build a sprawling cancer research center, add 245 new faculty and 400 staff, and enroll an additional 1,500 students. University officials touted the plan's potential to help students, improve local medical options and boost the economy.

Cuomo in May had called the Stony Brook proposal "very impressive."

Cuomo and legislators authorized the grant program earlier this year, as part of the state budget. The four State University of New York research centers -- Stony Brook, Albany, Binghamton and Buffalo -- were given the opportunity to apply for up to $35 million each.

To help pay part of the costs, Cuomo and legislators approved a multiple-year tuition hike. It increases tuition at SUNY campuses 30 percent over five years, from $4,970 to $6,470.

Stony Brook has proposed constructing an eight-level, $194-million facility, adjacent to the two towers of the university's medical center.

On Tuesday, Cuomo announced a $35 million SUNY 2020 grant for the University at Buffalo to help pay for a capital construction program.

With Zachary R. Dowdy

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