Message from President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD

President StanleyToday we celebrate two remarkable events: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approval of Stony Brook University’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. Both events mark a milestone moment in the history of our young institution—one that we all have reason to celebrate.

The NYSUNY 2020 initiative provides us with a predictable tuition plan, recognizes Stony Brook’s unique needs as a research institution, and provides us with 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- and needs-based financial aid, ensuring that a Stony Brook education remains affordable. Stony Brook’s new financial aid plan protects TAP-eligible students whose families earn less than $75,000 a year. These students will not pay a penny more tuition under this plan.

Governor Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher are to be commended for their strong leadership in support of public higher education in New York. 

The Simons gift is historic; it 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 ten gifts to any public college or university in America.

The Simons gift will fund three major priorities: (1) research excellence in the School of Medicine, (2) faculty hires through new endowed professorships, and (3) recruitment of top-level graduate and undergraduate students.

The Simons gift gives Stony Brook University 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.

 Specifically, the Simons gift will focus on:

  • Neurosciences: The Simons gift enables us to invest in neurosciences leadership and faculty and specialized equipment. We also will renovate space in the existing Health Sciences Center to house a new Advanced Neurosciences Institute.
  • Cancer: The Simons gift will enable us to invest in our Cancer Center, advancing our efforts to obtain the prestigious designation as a National Cancer Institute. Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, our Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, and his stellar recruitment of renowned researcher, molecular biologist, and proven administrator Dr. Yusuf Hannun as our new Cancer Center Director, we are off to an exceptional start.
  • Infectious Disease: Emerging infectious diseases are a constant threat. Witness the recent H1N1 flu epidemic, the sudden emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the ongoing epidemic of HIV. This is an area in which Stony Brook University has significant strength. The Simons gift will help enhance research and recruitment opportunities in this critical area.
  • Enabling Technologies: Funding from the Simons gift will allow Stony Brook to invest in imaging, genomics, and biomedical informatics — powerful enabling technologies that are rapidly transforming all fields of medical research. The Simons gift will be used to create a Center for Biological Imaging that leverages expertise from our partners at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Biomedical Engineering and other engineering departments, physics, and other sciences here at Stony Brook. These initiatives are essential for Stony Brook to move into the highest tier of research universities.

  • Establishment of a Hub of Interdisciplinary Research and Development: Stony Brook will build a new life sciences research building, the Medical and Research Translation (MART) center, directly connected to the hospital, to facilitate contact between clinicians and scientists and serve as the hub for research in the 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 students. The MART will provide a tangible example of Stony Brook’s commitment to teaching and research in the life sciences and enhancing clinical care.

Human capital is the fundamental strength of any research university, and the fastest path to excellence is through the recruitment of outstanding faculty. We will use a significant component of the Simons gift to provide matching funds for 35 new endowed professorships over the next seven years. This is a very ambitious goal — but certainly not out of reach. It requires fundraising that goes beyond the Simons gift, and I am encouraged to note that at least six donors have already been identified who are prepared to make gifts at the $1 million level for an endowed professorship.

Great faculty attract outstanding students, and in turn, great students attract outstanding faculty. 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, we have created the Simons Fund to Support Graduate 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. Together these initiatives will allow Stony Brook to offer the most generous financial aid package of any of the SUNY schools.

With the revenue generated under NYSUNY 2020 and the remarkable $150 million Simons gift, this University is poised for greatness. The support, the belief, and the funding are in place. These new initiatives bestow on us a gift that will last a lifetime and beyond.

This is a very exciting time to be a part of Stony Brook. On behalf of the entire University community, I thank Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Zimpher for their leadership, and express endless gratitude to Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation for their gift. Thanks to their immense generosity, the possibilities are infinite.