Hedge-Fund Billionaires James and Marilyn Simons Give Stony Brook $500 Million
James and Marilyn Simons gave $500 million through their Simons Foundation to State University of New York at Stony Brook to endow the university far into the future and support scholarships, professorships, research, and clinical care. The billionaire couple, whose net worth is estimated at $28 billion, according to Forbes, are long time donors to the university.
Plus, the Chartwell School, a private school that serves youths with dyslexia and other language-related learning issues, received a $45 million bequest, and two donors gave $25 million to help people struggling with homelessness and opioid addiction.
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A roundup of notable gifts compiled by the Chronicle:
State University of New York at Stony Brook
James and Marilyn Simons gave $500 million through their Simons Foundation to endow the university far into the future and support scholarships, professorships, research, and clinical care.
The couple, whose net worth is estimated at $28 billion according to Forbes, are longtime donors to the university. Including this latest gift, they have given Stony Brook more than $585 million through their foundation over the last decade. Marilyn Simons earned a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from the university in 1974 and 1984, respectively.
James Simons founded Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund. A respected mathematician, he worked as a code breaker for the National Security Agency in 1964 and as a researcher for the Communications Research Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses. He served as chairman of the mathematics department at Stony Brook from 1968 to 1978.
Claire Jacobson left $45 million to support a number of efforts at the Seaside, Calif., school, which serves young people with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences. Her late husband, Charles (Chuck) Jacobson, was dyslexic and a supporter and board member of the school during his lifetime.
Some of the bequest will be used to build a new high school and other campus facilities. The money will also establish the Charles E. and Claire R. Jacobson Memorial Endowment Fund, which will support the need-based financial aid budget, and it will go toward expanding the Chartwell Teacher Training Institute.
Claire Jacobson, who died in 2020, taught elementary school in Salinas, Calif., before retiring to devote her time to the equine sport of competitive dressage. Chuck Jacobson founded Mobileparks West in 1978. The company, headquartered in Monterey, Calif., developed mobile-home parks in California, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Washington. He died in 2013.
Pam Estadt and Ira Lubert gave $25 million to launch the Estadt-Lubert Collaborative for Housing and Recovery. The program aims to change the way the opioid epidemic is addressed for people who are experiencing homelessness by combining medical care and addiction-treatment services with permanent housing.
The program will be led by Project HOME, a nonprofit that for the last 24 years has helped people experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Three local hospitals — Jefferson Health, Penn Medicine, and Temple Health — will also participate in the effort. Ira Lubert is chairman and co-founder of Lubert-Adler, a real-estate investment firm in Philadelphia, and Independence Capital Partners, a group of private-equity and real-estate holdings.
Shirley Ryan Ability Lab
John and Kathy Schreiber gave $15 million to support patient care and research for patients with conditions such as traumatic brain injury and stroke, and to back the nonprofit’s quality-of-life programming, which helps patients adapt and thrive. John Schreiber retired in 2015 as a partner and co-founder of Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, where he oversaw all the New York investment firm’s real-estate holdings since 1992.
Jerre and Mary Joy Stead pledged $12.5 million through their Stead Family Foundation to expand the group’s programs promoting and supporting religious diversity and pro-democracy efforts.
Jerre Stead is executive chairman and CEO of Clarivate Analytics, an information-services company. He served as CEO of Churchill Capital Corporation until its merger with Clarivate in 2019.
Gerald and Nanette Lyles pledged $10 million to support the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business. The commitment is unrestricted and is the latest in a long line of gifts the Lyles family has given to the university.
Gerald Lyles is president of Lyles United and Lyles Investments, and serves as chairman of the board and senior vice president of Lyles Diversified. All three companies are part of the Lyles Group, which grew out of W.M. Lyles Company, a pipeline-construction business founded by Lyles’s parents in 1945.
Gerald Lyles earned a bachelor’s degree and an M.B.A. from the university in 1964 and 1971, respectively. His family ties to the university go back to his maternal grandfather, who was both a student and a professor at the university. His parents and siblings are also Purdue graduates.
To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated regularly.