Logo for Stony Brook University
News and Media Relations header
  • Search Press Releases
University News


Gardiner Foundation Gift Aims to Foster Roots and Relevance of LI’s Place in US History
New Endowed Chair will strengthen the study of American History at Stony Brook
Gardiner Foundation Visits Special Collections

Commemorating the gift from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, establishing an endowed chair in the Department of History known as the Robert David Lion Gardiner Chair in American History, Executive Director Kathryn M. Curran enjoys a tour of the Melville Library Special Collections at Stony Brook University, where University Archivist, Kristen Nyitray, shared the history of one of the treasures from the collection -- an original letter from George Washington to Benjamin Tallmadge about the Culper Spy Ring. Pictured from left: History Chair, Gary Marker; Kristen Nyitray; History PhD student and Gardiner Fellow, Lance Boos; Kathryn Curran; History PhD student and Gardiner Fellow, Richard Tomczak; History Professor Jennifer Anderson; Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Sacha Kopp. 

Stony Brook, NY—February 4, 2016 -- Thanks to a major gift from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, Stony Brook University will establish an endowed chair in the Department of History known as the Robert David Lion Gardiner Chair in American History. Named in honor of the late Robert D. L. Gardiner, the gift makes it possible for Stony Brook to appoint a prominent scholar in the College of Arts and Sciences, who will foster an increase in public interest in the history of Long Island and its place in American history, creating a robust   intellectual resource available to wider audiences.

The timing of the Gardiner Foundation pledge was opportune because it qualified for a dollar-for-dollar match from the Simons Foundation which brought the Gardiner Foundation gift to the threshold of $1.5 million needed to establish an endowed chair. It was designed as a lasting testimony to the significant contributions the Gardiner Family and the Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation have made to promote the study, preservation, and celebration of Long Island history.

Gardiner Scholars with Foundation Leadership and Faculty

  Following a series of lectures in the History Department at Stony Brook University, Undergraduate and Graduate Gardiner Fellows and representatives of the Gardiner Foundation gathered for a reception commemorating the establishment of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Chair in American History and the Foundation's student scholarship support over the past decade. Seated from left: Andrew Check ('16), Kaitlyn Wulff ('17); Colleen Cheslak ('16); Richard Tomczak (2nd year PhD); Lance Boos (1st year PhD). Standing from left: CAS Dean Sacha Kopp; Kathryn M. Curran; Gary Marker, the Honorable Peter Fox Cohalan, Gardiner Foundation Director, Suffolk County Historian and Former State Supreme Court Justice; and Professor Jennifer Anderson.

“This thoughtful and strategic gift fosters teaching, collaboration and scholarship at Stony Brook in subject matter that is near and dear to anyone who has roots on Long Island,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University. “It will help establish a critical link among the institutions on Long Island and throughout the state of New York, exploring the important role that this region has played in US history.”

The mission of the Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation is primarily to support the study of New York State history, with an emphasis on Suffolk County. Since its establishment in 1987, the Foundation has amassed an extraordinary record of support for Long Island’s historical, educational, and cultural institutions.

“New York State has played a crucial role in the progression of the history of the United States,” said Joseph R. Attonito, Board President of the Gardiner Foundation. “Through this gift, the Gardiner Foundation believes that Stony Brook University can cultivate public interest in local, regional, and national history.”

Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Gardiner Foundation continued, “We look forward to the creation of a vibrant venue for public and scholarly programming, a supportive environment for innovative projects in historical interpretation, and for a welcome environment to advance undergraduate and graduate education, all in the name of Robert D. L. Gardiner.”

“The College of Arts and Sciences is host to premier programs across the liberal arts, as evidenced by diverse departments and the cross-disciplinary Humanities Institute of Stony Brook.  This gift from the Gardiner Foundation will further strengthen our scholarship and teaching, as well as foster a new opportunity for collaboration between the History Department and the Special Collections and University Archives at the Frank Melville, Jr. Library.  The Library is home to a number of historic collections, including the secret wartime letter from General George Washington to his chief spy, Benjamin Tallmadge,” said Sacha Kopp, PhD, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University.

Chair of History department Gary Marker said, “This endowment will allow faculty in the Department of History, which already includes professors of national and international renown, including seven SUNY Distinguished Professors, to grow, serve more students, and further enhance its academic standing and public service.”

The Gardiner Foundation’s recent endowment gift builds on its previous commitments to Stony Brook University’s History Department. Since 2004, the Foundation has funded annual Gardiner Scholarships for undergraduate students who show exceptional promise as young historians. In addition, it has awarded the Gardiner Graduate Fellowship for each of the past ten years to support accomplished graduate students in American History. In 2009, the Gardiner Foundation underwrote a major conference at Stony Brook University, entitled "The Worlds of Lion Gardiner.” Inspired by the life of Lion Gardiner, the family’s patriarchal forebear and seventeenth-century founder of Gardiner’s Island (granted by King Charles I of England), the conference brought together prominent historians from around the nation and abroad, generated significant original research related to the early history of Long Island, and resulted in the publication of a special issue of Early American Studies (2011).

“This unique investment from the Gardiner Foundation, and the Foundation's history of giving for more than a decade, truly exemplifies how vitally important philanthropy is to Stony Brook,” said Dexter A. Bailey, Sr. Vice President for Advancement. “Targeted gifts like this help us strengthen our programs, provide wonderful opportunities for our students and our faculty and create a margin of excellence in everything we do.”


About Stony Brook University

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide. It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. The College of Arts and Sciences is the liberal arts college of the university, with 26 academic departments, over 450 faculty and 12,000 students.  It is also host to the renowned Humanities Institute at Stony Brook.  As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

Lauren M. Sheprow
Media Relations Officer
Office of Communications and Marketing
Stony Brook University




© Stony Brook University