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Institute for Advanced Study Receives $100 Million Challenge Grant, the Largest Donation since Founders’ Gift

$100M Challenge Grant, Largest Donation Since Founders' Gift
August 18, 2011
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Lead Gifts from the Simons Foundation and the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences Launch $200 Million Campaign

The Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research into fundamental aspects of the sciences and humanities, has received a $100 million unrestricted challenge grant from the Simons Foundation and the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences.This donation, which is the largest since the founders’ gift establishing the Institute in 1930, will serve as the basis for a $200 million campaign to strengthen the Institute’s endowment.

 This grant must be matched by funds from donors within the next four years; additional gifts and pledges of $9 million have already been received. All funds received will be matched dollar for dollar by the Simons Foundation and the Simonyi Fund.

The $200 million campaign will ensure that the Institute is able to continue its essential role in fostering fundamental research that advances our understanding of the world. The main goal of the campaign is to raise new endowment funds that will allow the Institute to keep its draw on the endowment at an acceptable level over the long term. The stability and health of the Institute’s endowment is essential for its financial independence because the institution relies on endowment income for approximately three quarters of its operating expenses. This campaign will build upon the successful completion of the Institute’s most recent campaign, launched in 2004, which raised $135 million from more than 1,500 donors, including Trustees, Faculty, Staff, former Institute scholars, Friends of the Institute, foundations and donor-advised funds and others.

“The Institute is immensely grateful to the Simons Foundation and the Simonyi Fund for this extremely generous and far-sighted donation, which is of historic importance for the Institute,” stated Peter Goddard, Director of the Institute. “The Institute was founded in 1930 by Caroline and Louis Bamberger, enlightened philanthropists who believed in the need to provide the world’s leading scholars with the support and facilities that would enable them to pursue curiosity-driven research that would enlarge our understanding of the world, leading to both cultural and practical benefits for mankind. Their vision is as relevant today as it was 80 years ago, and this magnificent challenge grant initiates a campaign that will ensure that the Institute will be able to fulfill its mission in the future, sustaining a unique scholarly environment and providing researchers drawn from institutions around the world with the freedom they need for fundamental research.”

Jim Simons

The Simons Foundation was founded by James H. Simons, a Vice Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Trustees and a Trustee since 2001, and his wife Marilyn Hawrys Simons. The Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences was established by Charles Simonyi, Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Trustees and a Trustee since 1997. Both organizations have provided significant support to the Institute in the past decade. The Simons Foundation has funded numerous initiatives at the Institute, especially in the School of Natural Sciences’ Simons Center for Systems Biology, which opened in 2007. The Center was named in honor of Jim and Marilyn Simons in recognition of the Foundation’s generous challenge grant that provided support for operational costs and the establishment of an endowment fund. Charles Simonyi donated the lead gift toward the Institute’s previous capital campaign, establishing the Karoly Simonyi Memorial Endowment Fund in memory of his late father. Dr. Simonyi endowed the Charles Simonyi Professorship in Theoretical Physics in 1997, held first and currently by Edward Witten, and has also provided support to the Institute’s School of Mathematics. Simonyi Hall, the building that houses the School, was dedicated in 2000 in recognition of Dr. Simonyi’s commitment to the work of the Institute.

Dr. Simons, who serves as Chairman of the Board at Renaissance Technologies LLC and President of Euclidean Capital LLC and was a Member (1972) in the Institute’s School of Mathematics, said of the gift, “The health and viability of the Institute’s endowment will ensure that the Institute can operate at its desired level and maintain the highest standards. Marilyn and I are committed to the Institute’s mission and purpose, and are pleased to make this contribution.”

Charles Simonyi

“The Institute’s role in promoting and cultivating original scholarship in the sciences and humanities is unparalleled,” noted Dr. Simonyi, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Intentional Software Corporation. “It is of utmost importance to sustain the work of this institution of international renown and reach where scholars have the freedom to pursue their research in an environment dedicated to the advancement of ideas that change our understanding of the world. Lisa and I are honored to play a role in building a strong foundation for the Institute’s future.”

About the Simons Foundation

The Foundation was founded in 1994 and is headed by Marilyn Hawrys Simons. Its mission is to advance the frontiers of research in the basic sciences and mathematics. The Foundation’s grantmaking encourages collaborations, makes connections and builds bridges by funding studies that will heighten interchanges between institutions, across fields, and among scientists in the life sciences, mathematics and the physical sciences. The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) aims to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of autism and related developmental disorders by exploring neuroscience from multiple directions, including molecular, cellular, systems, immunological, cognitive, behavioral, genetic, theoretical and computational perspectives.

About the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences

The Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, established by Charles Simonyi in 2003, provides grants to a range of leading organizations in the arts, sciences and education. The fundamental goal of the foundation is to provide “access to excellence” through its support of institutions such as the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Public Library, the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Russian National Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Opera International Radio Broadcasts.

About the Institute

A private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Institute was first endowed by a gift of $5 million from founders Louis Bamberger and his sister Caroline Bamberger Fuld, from whom a sequence of subsequent gifts followed, amounting to a total of more than $200 million in today’s value. Established through the vision of founding Director and education reformer Abraham Flexner, the Institute has been home to many distinguished scientists and scholars since its founding in 1930, including Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Erwin Panofsky, Homer A. Thompson, John von Neumann, George Kennan and Hermann Weyl. With a permanent Faculty of no more than 28, the Institute awards fellowships each year to some 190 scholars from about 100 universities and research institutions throughout the world. The Institute’s more than 6,000 former Members and Visitors hold positions of intellectual and scientific leadership throughout the academic world. Some 26 Nobel Laureates and 38 out of 52 Fields Medalists have been Institute Faculty, Members or Visitors. Many winners of the Wolf and MacArthur prizes have also been affiliated with the Institute.

This gift was reported on by the Wall Street Journal on August 18, 2011. You may view the article here.