Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons is giving $60 million to his former employer.
At a New York news conference, the quantitative hedge fund billionaire announced the gift to Long Island’s Stony Brook University, where he headed the mathematics department more than 30 years ago.
Simon’s donation, which includes a previously-announced $20 million gift, will be used to set up and house the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, and to endow seven new faculty positions. It will also pay for about 30 visiting scholars every year.
The gift is the largest ever to a public university in New York. Stony Brook is located just down the road from Renaissance’s East Setauket headquarters; the now-$35 billion hedge fund was incubated on the Stony Brook campus five years after Simon left the university.
“It’s because I’m very fond of Stony Brook,” Simons told The New York Times. “It was my first administrative job. I helped build the university in a modest way. I met my wife there.”
Simon joined Stony Brook, at the tender age of 30, after he was fired by the Defense Department for speaking to a reporter about his anti-war views. He headed the university’s math department from 1968 until 1972.