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SBU News > Newsroom > Marilyn Simons Makes $25 Million Gift to Stony Brook University to Spur More Representation of Women and Individuals of Color in Economics Field

Marilyn Simons Makes $25 Million Gift to Stony Brook University to Spur More Representation of Women and Individuals of Color in Economics Field

Dr. Simons is Stony Brook Ph.D. Alumna in Economics

STONY BROOK, NY — Dr. Marilyn Simons, who is not only the first female in her family to go to college but who went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from Stony Brook University, has made a historic $25 million gift to the University to spur more representation of women and individuals of color in the economics field.

The gift is believed to be the largest donation to a public university in the country specifically for an economics department, and perhaps the largest focused on remedying the diversity problem in economics. Combined with a university commitment of additional faculty and support for graduate students, the overall impact exceeds $30 million.

Dr. Simons has a long-standing relationship with Stony Brook – many family members are also alumni, and her father was a bricklayer who helped construct the campus and received cancer care at Stony Brook University Hospital. She and her husband, Dr. Jim Simons – who she met when she was a student and he was chair of the math department at Stony Brook – and their Simons Foundation have donated well over $400 million to the University.

“For my family, the University has been transformational,” she said. “So, I’m privileged to be able to give something back to help ensure that others – and particularly women and students from underrepresented communities – may be similarly transformed by a Stony Brook experience.”

She noted that Stony Brook is recognized both in the U.S. and internationally for its commitment and wide-ranging initiatives in upward socio-economic mobility. The University was ranked third in the nation in a 2017 study for admitting students from the bottom fifth of the income distribution and helping them rise to the top fifth.

In this regard, a specific focus of Dr. Marilyn Simons’ new gift to Stony Brook will be on developing a pipeline for underrepresented minorities and women in economics. To do so, the donation will be used to recruit and retain female and minority senior and mid-career faculty, and to CREATE a Ph.D. Diversity Fellows Program. The field has a well-documented dearth of diversity – one about a third of economics doctorates go to women and racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans and Latinos, are even more under-represented.

The personal donation from Dr. Simons will also go to strengthening professional development opportunities for all PhD candidates; establishing a center for applied economics and public policy; endowing professorial chairs and professorships for the department; and increasing and stimulating interdisciplinary research between the department of economics and other academic departments.

Stony Brook President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. noted that the gift will have a transformative effect on both the economics department and programs campus wide, while enhancing the University’s reputation worldwide.

“I am humbled by Marilyn’s vision, generosity and confidence in Stony Brook,” he said. “She gives us the courage to take risks and overcome boundaries in our effort to advance knowledge. She builds opportunity for those whose horizons would otherwise be limited. And she amplifies our ability to educate the next generation of thoughtful leaders.”

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students, more than 2,700 faculty members and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long island’s economic growth. Its impact on the Long island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.


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