Stony Brook Foundation Stars of Stony Brook Gala Raises Nearly $2 Million for Student Scholarships

A candid conversation with President McInnis and Alan Alda at the Stars of Stony Brook Gala
On May 6, more than 300 friends, alumni, faculty and staff of Stony Brook University gathered together online for the first-ever virtual Stars of Stony Brook Gala. Despite the unconventional format of the event, a remarkable $1,994,000 million was raised to support Stony Brook Foundation Trustee Scholarships at the university.

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“The Stony Brook Foundation Trustee Scholarship has entirely changed the trajectory of my life.” —Sarah Kelly ’22

Since 2000, the annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala has raised more than $64 million, with nearly $42 million going to ensure Stony Brook’s highest achieving students have the financial means to pursue an enriching college experience, preparing them to compete for prestigious internships, graduate school admission and fulfilling careers. The additional $22.6 million has supported centers of excellence and other critical campus initiatives.
“Each year, more than 145 students benefit from scholarships funded by Gala proceeds. These Trustee Scholars are some of the most driven, the most talented, the most deserving young people you’ll ever meet,” said Stony Brook Foundation Chair and IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond ’76. “Stony Brook offers these students an education that is both best in class and yet still affordable — thanks in large part to our donors.”
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From left, 2019 Gala Honoree Marilyn Hawrys Simons, BA ’74, PhD ’84 and husband James H. Simons, Hon. ’92, Chair Emeritus of Stony Brook Foundation, with Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis and husband Dean Johnson

The evening’s festivities featured a candid conversation between Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis and renowned actor Alan Alda, co-founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and 2013 Gala honoree. Mr. Alda led the discussion that ranged from President McInnis’ early experiences and passions, to the path that led her to Stony Brook University, to her feelings about taking the helm of the university amidst a worldwide pandemic.
“Even from afar, when I had been selected as the next president, I could see what a really special community this was,” said President McInnis. “From the ways in which our faculty and staff have been there to support our students, to figuring out the best ways to come together in this pandemic. And it’s been great to be a part of that community.”
That spirit of community was reflected in the “Stony Brook Unsung Heroes” video played during the Gala, which showcased the tireless efforts of Stony Brook Medicine and University employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, Stony Brook has been at the core of the fight against COVID-19. The University is caring for thousands of patients, leading and participating in essential clinical trials, conducting more than 200 COVID-related research studies and administering more than 350,000 vaccines at various point of distribution sites, all while continuously teaching students without interruption.
“Reflecting on the past year, there are so many unsung heroes to thank — including the thousands of donors who gave so generously to help us fight COVID-19 and to support our students during such a challenging time,” said President McInnis. “Throughout the pandemic and now as we look ahead to the future, wherever I go, there seems to be this real attitude of ‘together, we can do this.’ Our donors’ support of this year’s Gala and of our Foundation Trustee Scholars is yet another example of that incredible optimism, fellowship and generosity.”
—Kate O’Brien

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