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Retired Professor Establishes Support Programs for Disadvantaged Students

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“Education is the best investment we can make in our future”
— R. David Bynum, PhD, John S. Toll Professor

R. David Bynum, John S. Toll Professor

“I grew up in Oklahoma and initially went into the oil business because I was surrounded by it,” said David Bynum. Bynum joined the Stony Brook University faculty in 1982 and retired from Stony Brook last May after 33 years of service. He now holds a three-year position as a John S. Toll Professor.

Bynum founded and directed Stony Brook University’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) (now the Institute for Stem Education (I-STEM)) in 2007 and its predecessor, LIGASE (Long Island Group Advancing Science Education), in 1996. I-STEM has attracted more than $20 million in external funding to provide research and educational experiences for tens of thousands of students from middle school through postdoctoral levels. Bynum has received many awards for his work, including the Distinguished Service Professorship from the State University of New York, the Bruce Alberts Award for Distinguished Contributions to Science Education from the American Society for Cell Biology, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the National Science Foundation.

“I had a solid career with Shell Oil in Oklahoma, California and Manhattan before returning to school and choosing an academic path,” Bynum said. “It was a different world then and less costly to change careers and choose a path that resonated with my goals. Today more and more young people are being frozen out of opportunities because of a lack of resources and education. This underinvestment in our youth is costly in the long term to both individual and national aspirations.”

Dr. Bynum’s vison of the importance of investing in our youth motivated him to establish funding through the Stony Brook Foundation for I-STEM student support and scholarships. The first provides funding for disadvantaged or underrepresented Long Island middle or high school students to attend a Stony Brook University I-STEM program. I-STEM offers a wide variety of summer research programs for students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The second provides scholarships to disadvantaged Long Island students who want to study in these fields as Stony Brook undergraduates.

“A public university like Stony Brook is the ideal institution to provide research and educational opportunities that enlarge the talent pool in our society” Bynum said. “I would like to see all young people have the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence they need to make it in the world, and to open their eyes to what they can achieve.”

“Dr. Bynum has been an extraordinary asset to our University, our students and our region for decades,” said Dexter Bailey, Jr., senior vice president for university advancement and executive director of the Stony Brook Foundation. “Through the I-STEM Scholarships and the I-STEM Student Support Fund, he will help us attract bright, promising students whose opportunities have been limited due to economic or other disadvantages. By introducing them to the outstanding STEM programs at Stony Brook, we hope to inspire and educate tomorrow’s leaders. Dr. Bynum’s generous gifts will move those ambitions forward.”

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