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Old 12-14-2011, 10:24 PM
 
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Hedge Fund Giant James Simons And Wife Are Donating $150 Million to SBU and it’s (hoped that this is) the kind of gift that can vault Stony Brook into the upper tier of public colleges.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:51 PM
 
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I heard about this on the radio today. Pretty cool that this couple met at SB and now donating all this money for cancer research.
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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Before anyone with SB ties canonizes Simons, it turns out he introduced Stony Brook to Bernie Madoff through the Stony Brook Foundation. Hopefully the school didn't lose 150 million and this isn't to patch a hole.
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:04 AM
 
Location: Kings Park, NY
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Isn't Stony Brook already considered a great college across the nation?
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dman72 View Post
Before anyone with SB ties canonizes Simons, it turns out he introduced Stony Brook to Bernie Madoff through the Stony Brook Foundation. Hopefully the school didn't lose 150 million and this isn't to patch a hole.
Yes, he did. He was the chair of the foundation and encouraged that they put money with Madoff. He himself invested with Madoff. He pulled out his money a bit early way before things started looking suspicious and made money.
SBU lost a small amount, not sure if over the course of the investment, the net was a loss or a gain (I think it was a gain).
Simons has admitted that he regrets that he involved SBU in the scheme.

It was peanuts compared to what other major institutions lost - Cornell, Harvard etc - huge portion of their endowment funds were wiped out. So, this was not a disaster.

As for the current $150 mil donation - it has been in the works for the last 1-2 years. Simons was behind the scenes in the hire of the new president (from Wash U - St. Louis) and the new dean of the School of Medicine (from UCSD). In both cases, his promises for financial help in realizing their vision were a huge factor in them joining the university.

Compared to other ultra-wealthy, he has been conservative in donating money. His 2 passions/target areas are math and autism, and most of his money will go there.
His 2 sons died young in freak accidents and the only surviving child (a daughter) has severe autism. Simons has been donating money to research in this field - in fact, just yesterday, he gave $26.5 mil to MIT for autism research (he is an MIT alumnus).

Stony Brook is close to his heart - he was successful academically here and still enjoys doing math with his old colleagues. Met his wife here, decided to stay and live in the area - it is his home. It makes sense to want to see this university prosper and I think there will be more big donations coming, especially if the current money is used wisely.

He likes control (most wealthy do). He put stipulations on his donation, for more autonomy from SUNY, and power in regulating (increasing tuition) independent from Albany. He has enough financial leverage to make a difference.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ydsavaged View Post
Isn't Stony Brook already considered a great college across the nation?
I admit, the phrase "to help bring in the upper tier" irked me.

As a research institution in the "hard" sciences, SBU always has had a great reputation - it may be in smaller circles than the mass media, but it has always been there. In nuclear physics, we have been in the top 5 for many years, similarly - in certain fields of math, engineering, molecular biology.

The previous president was not well liked by the "hard" sciences faculty - she was a Texan woman with a degree in English literature. But she should be given credit in 2 areas: 1) she invested in "beautification" projects - the campus direly needed that; and 2) she forced us to take undergraduate education more seriously, to improve undergraduate education (along with excellent research).
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 2011littlehouse View Post
I admit, the phrase "to help bring in the upper tier" irked me.

As a research institution in the "hard" sciences, SBU always has had a great reputation - it may be in smaller circles than the mass media, but it has always been there. In nuclear physics, we have been in the top 5 for many years, similarly - in certain fields of math, engineering, molecular biology.

The previous president was not well liked by the "hard" sciences faculty - she was a Texan woman with a degree in English literature. But she should be given credit in 2 areas: 1) she invested in "beautification" projects - the campus direly needed that; and 2) she forced us to take undergraduate education more seriously, to improve undergraduate education (along with excellent research).

Shirley turned Stony Brook from a hideous eyesore into something you might at least no be embarassed to show someone around. When I went there it was a decrepit concrete waste land. It still is but with more benches and grass.

Do you work at SB?
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Inis Fada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dman72 View Post
Before anyone with SB ties canonizes Simons, it turns out he introduced Stony Brook to Bernie Madoff through the Stony Brook Foundation. Hopefully the school didn't lose 150 million and this isn't to patch a hole.
He has already given $60 million to SBU in 2008 which was used to build the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. Late 2008 the house of cards Madoff had built had crumbled.

StreetInsider.com - Renaissance Technologies' James Simons Makes A Bad Move And Recommends Madoff

Quote:
The Stony Brook foundation investment committee approved an initial allocation of $500,000 in 1991, but now the college is facing a $5.5 million loss from Madoff fraud. By 2004, it had invested about $8 million with Bernard Madoff.

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When Mr. Madoff was arrested, reportedly Simons told Stony Brook committee members that he felt "lousy" about the loss.

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In 2004, the Stony Brook Foundation pulled $3.5 million of its roughly $8 million from Madoff's firm. Simons did urge Stony Brook to pull out all of its money, but other members of the foundation's board disagreed.
While Simons initially had the SBF invest money with Madoff, Simons is also the person who told them to get EVERYTHING OUT. It was the board which disagreed with Mr. Simons and left $5.5 million behind with Madoff.

If you still feel that the gifts the Simons' and the Simons Foundation totalling $210 million are to patch a $5.5 million dollar hole caused by the SBF Board NOT listening to Mr. Simon's advice, so be it.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:32 PM
 
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It still baffles me how some of the smartest people in the financial industry were fooled by Madoff. He really must have had a gift for conning people.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Inis Fada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dman72 View Post
Shirley turned Stony Brook from a hideous eyesore into something you might at least no be embarassed to show someone around. When I went there it was a decrepit concrete waste land. It still is but with more benches and grass.

Do you work at SB?
Kenny beautified the place to attract students and faculty -- while you can't judge a book by it's cover, first impressions are lasting.

It's 180 degrees different than it was in the early 80's. My biggest complaint (aesthetically) about campus is that there is not cohesiveness within the architecture. The oldest buildings were very similar, but with each passing administration, it lost it's way. I am not suggesting cookie cutter buildings, but maintain some sort of architectural feature from one to the next -- whether it's arches, columns, reverse gables -- something. One can walk on campus and pick off what building was built (or remodeled) and cite the decade or administration. They need only look across Nicolls and learn from the monstrosity which is SBUH and HSC.

But this is merely my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt as my nostalgic side mourned the loss of the Bridge to Nowhere.
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