Stony Brook University will honor alumna and Simons Foundation President Marilyn Hawrys Simons, BA ’74, PhD ’84 at its 20th Stars of Stony Brook Gala, Wednesday, April 10 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. Hosted annually by the Stony Brook Foundation, this year the celebration will recognize Dr. Simons for her leadership as president of one of the nation’s premier philanthropic institutions devoted to driving progress in basic science as well as her contributions to improving educational opportunities for the underserved. As a philanthropist, advocate and volunteer for Stony Brook University, Marilyn has been a champion for one of New York State’s outstanding public universities.
Since its inception in 2000, the Stony Brook Foundation Stars of Stony Brook Gala has raised more than $36 million to support student scholarships and $21 million for academic programs of excellence. Last year’s Gala honoring Roy Lichtenstein Foundation President Dorothy Lichtenstein, raised $2.1 million for student scholarships and $5 million for the Stony Brook Southampton Creative Writing and Film programs.
Just the third alum to receive this honor, Dr. Simons will join a distinguished roster of scholars, politicians, celebrities and luminaries who have been honored at the Stars of Stony Brook Gala. The roster includes Former Vice President Joseph Biden, Nobel Laureate CN Yang; actors Julie Andrews, Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, and Ed Harris; Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons; IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond ’76; and world-renowned conservationists Patricia Wright and Richard Leakey.
In 1994, with husband Jim Simons, Dr. Simons co-founded — and became president of — the Simons Foundation. In the years since its founding the Simons Foundation rapidly became one of the nation’s leading private funders of basic research, its president a vocal advocate for increased philanthropic involvement in high-risk, high-reward scientific research. Stony Brook University awarded her an honorary doctorate of letters degree in 2008.
Recently, after 25-plus year’s experience actively supporting nonprofit organizations in New York City and State, Dr. Simons was appointed chair of the board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a globally renowned U.S. research facility with research programs focusing on cancer, genomics, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology.
In New York City, she continues her involvement in improving K-12 education for underserved communities as a member of the boards of the LearningSpring School, a school for children on the autism spectrum and the East Harlem Scholars Academy.
At Stony Brook University, Dr. Simons serves as a board member of the Turkana Basin Institute, a research institution that supports scientific projects in the Turkana Basin of Northern Kenya. She is founder and chair of the Stony Brook Women’s Leadership Council, a mentoring program that pairs outstanding female undergraduates with accomplished female alumni and friends of the University. Dr. Simons has also helped emphasize the importance of health and nutrition by supporting the Walter J. Hawrys Campus Recreation Center named in honor of her late father. She supports the scientists of tomorrow through the Simons Summer Research Fellows and the university’s Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activities program.
“Stony Brook wouldn’t be the excellent university it is today, without our many friends and alumni,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. “But Marilyn’s singular commitment to ensuring Stony Brook remains an engine of social mobility is unparalleled. In fact, as someone who dedicates her life to creating opportunity, to advancing knowledge and improving lives, Marilyn embodies the very ethos of Stony Brook University.”
In 2018, Simons was awarded a doctorate of humane letters by PACE University, recognizing her as a leading science philanthropist and for her work at the LearningSpring School. Together with husband Jim Simons, Marilyn has also been recognized with a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Double Helix Medal (2008); the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy (“the Nobel Prize of philanthropy” in 2013); an honorary degree from The Rockefeller University (2013); and, most recently, a Chemical and Marketing Economics Leadership Award from the American Chemical Society, New York honoring her for outstanding STEM-related philanthropy (2018).
“Marilyn’s remarkable kindness, humility and intellect has long merited a special place in our hearts at Stony Brook, and among all those fortunate to know and work with her,” said Stony Brook Foundation Chair Richard Gelfond ‘76. “She is an incredible woman of substance and vision, and I’m proud to call her a colleague, fellow alum and friend.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit stonybrook.edu/gala.
20th Annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala details:
WEDNESDAY APRIL 10, 2019
Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, New York City
Cocktails 6:30 pm / Dinner 7:30 pm – Business attire