$75 Million new gift from mega-donors James and Marilyn Simons for a cutting-edge hub of computational science

The Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International have made a $75 million gift to the City University of New York (CUNY) to bolster the university’s status as a hub for cutting-edge computational science.

The donation is the largest in the university’s history and is driven by the missions of the Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. The gift also strengthens the partnership between CUNY and the Simons Foundation’s in-house computational research division, the Flatiron Institute.

The Simons Foundation will provide $25 million to fund the participation of CUNY and the Flatiron Institute in New York’s proposed Empire AI artificial intelligence consortium. Simons Foundation International will provide the university with $50 million to establish a master’s degree program at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, including hiring up to 25 faculty members. The hope is that some of that faculty will hold joint positions at the Flatiron Institute.

Empire AI is a state-initiated consortium of New York’s leading computational research institutions that will utilize a state-of-the-art computing center to accelerate research and development related to artificial intelligence. AI holds tremendous promise for revolutionizing scientific research and has already led to breakthroughs in everything from drug discovery to simulating the cosmos. CUNY and the Flatiron Institute join five other founding institutions — Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the State University of New York (SUNY).

“This gift aims to strengthen computational research at CUNY, to build on its traditions of excellence,” says Simons Foundation president David Spergel.

“We were inspired by the governor’s investment in Empire AI to deepen our investment in CUNY. New York will be the center of computational science and computer science. CUNY’s faculty and students will be a vital part of this scientific revolution.”

In May 2022, the Simons Foundation partnered with Stony Brook University to boost diversity in STEM, with a $56 million gift.

In April 2023, the Simons Foundation committed $100 million to support “The New York Climate Exchange” (“The Exchange”) on Governors Island in New York City.

The Exchange — a $700 million, 172-acre international center for developing and deploying dynamic solutions to the global climate crisis — is set to open in 2028.

As we reported here earlier, in June 2023, the Simons Foundation presented Stony Brook University with a $500 million unrestricted gift, one of the most significant gifts ever made to a U.S. university.

The Simons Foundation is a significant supporter of Math for America. It has built a community of accomplished mathematics and science teachers who make a lasting impact in their schools, communities, and the profession at large through collaboration and continued learning.

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