Stars of Stony Brook Gala Raises $2.15 Million for Student Scholarships

25th Annual Event Honors Neil deGrasse Tyson

(Photo by Juliana Thomas)
(Photo by Juliana Thomas)

April 30, 2024 – More than 600 guests gathered on April 29 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City to honor Neil deGrasse Tyson at the 25th Stars of Stony Brook Gala.

Hosted annually by the Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees, this year’s celebration recognized the acclaimed astrophysicist, author, and educator for his many contributions to science, increasing diversity in STEM fields, and making science more accessible and relevant to a wider audience. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and has authored 17 books, including Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, which spent 82 weeks on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller list.

“One thing we know for certain is that the STEM fields are necessary for the survival of our civilization,” said Tyson. “Not only do you need some base level of STEM literacy, you need STEM wisdom so that the future generations will be proud of the decisions we make in this generation.”

The Gala raised an impressive $2.15 million to provide vital scholarships to hundreds of Stony Brook University students. Since 2000, the annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala has raised over $70 million to support scholarships and programs of academic and clinical excellence.

“The Stars of Stony Brook Gala is a crucial pipeline for students of endless promise but limited financial resources, and the funds raised tonight will go a long way in advancing academic achievement and social mobility among our scholars,” said Richard Gelfond ’76, Stony Brook Foundation chair and CEO of IMAX Corporation. “The Stony Brook Foundation extends its deepest gratitude to Neil and all our supporters for their generosity and commitment to excellence in public education.”

Tyson joins a distinguished roster of scholars, politicians, celebrities, and luminaries to be honored at the Stars of Stony Brook Gala. The roster includes Prince Albert II; President Joseph Biden; Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons; President, MJS Foundation, Marilyn Hawrys Simons ’74, ’84; Nobel Laureate C.N. Yang; actors Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Jane Fonda and Ed Harris; IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond ’76; and award-winning conservationist Patricia Wright.

“For a university whose star was born with an exceptional physics program committed to bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and human communication, I cannot think of a better honoree to recognize on the 25th anniversary of our Gala than Neil deGrasse Tyson,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis.

(Photo by Juliana Thomas)
(Photo by Juliana Thomas)

Since New York Governor Kathy Hochul named Stony Brook a state flagship in 2022, the University has continued to attract attention as one of the country’s leading universities and was ranked the #1 public university in New York and #26 public university nationwide last year by U.S. News & World Report. Last year’s announcement of the Simons Foundation’s historic $500 million unrestricted endowment gift and the university’s position as the anchor institution of The New York Climate Exchange have further enhanced Stony Brook’s growing reputation.

“Stony Brook should not just have its sights set on being a New York State flagship University,” Tyson said. “It should have its sights on leading the world because it has the resources, leadership and, above all else, it has the wisdom.”

McInnis closed the evening by recognizing the tremendous impact of the friends and alumni in the room: “Your support makes this happen. I am honored and grateful we are on this extraordinary ride together. Thank you for your trust, vision, partnership, and remarkable support.”

The current Stony Brook Trustee Scholars with Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Photo by Juliana Thomas)
The current Stony Brook Trustee Scholars with Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Photo by Juliana Thomas)

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