James Simons gave new meaning to the term "big
man on campus." The billionaire founder of Renaissance
Technologies and his wife, Marilyn, gave $150 million to Stony
Brook University in December, among the largest gifts ever
given to a public college or university in America. Simons led
Stony Brook's mathematics department before founding his hugely
successful quantitative firm in 1982. The gift will be used for
three purposes, according to the school: "Research excellence"
in the medical school, faculty hires through newly endowed
professorships, and recruitment of high-achieving undergraduate
and graduate students.