Stony Brook Gala Celebrates 25th Anniversary, Raises $2.15M for Student Scholarships

On April 29, over 600 guests gathered at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City to honor Neil deGrasse Tyson at the 25th Stars of Stony Brook Gala.

Short Summary:

  • Event honored Neil deGrasse Tyson for his contributions to science and education.
  • The gala raised $2.15 million for Stony Brook University student scholarships.
  • Tyson shared the importance of STEM literacy for future generations.

In a grand celebration on April 29, Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City hosted the 25th Stars of Stony Brook Gala. This annual event, organized by the Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees, paid tribute to renowned astrophysicist, author, and educator Neil deGrasse Tyson for his valuable contributions to science, promoting diversity in STEM fields, and making science accessible to the general public. This year’s gala drew more than 600 attendees and successfully raised $2.15 million to fund scholarships for deserving Stony Brook University students.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, who serves as the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, is also a prolific author of 17 books. His book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry spent an impressive 82 weeks on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller list. In his speech at the gala, Tyson emphasized the critical role of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.

“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 funds raised during the event are vital for providing scholarships to students with limited financial resources. Since its inception in 2000, the Stars of Stony Brook Gala has amassed over $70 million to support scholarships and programs aimed at maintaining academic and clinical excellence at the university. Richard Gelfond, Chair of the Stony Brook Foundation and CEO of IMAX Corporation, expressed profound gratitude to all supporters.

“The Stars of Stony Brook Gala is a crucial pipeline for students of endless promise but limited financial resources,” Gelfond stated. “The funds raised tonight will go a long way in advancing academic achievement and social mobility among our scholars.”

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis also shared her thoughts on honoring Tyson. “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,” McInnis said.

Neil deGrasse Tyson joins a prominent list of past honorees at the gala, which includes notable figures such as President Joseph Biden, Nobel Laureate C.N. Yang, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond ’76, and actor Alan Alda, among others. The robustness of this guest list highlights Tyson’s esteemed place among scholars, celebrities, and public figures recognized for their contributions.

Proceeds from the gala are exclusively allocated to student scholarships, thereby significantly impacting the lives of numerous students. Over the years, these scholarships have helped remove financial barriers, enabling deserving students to pursue their academic dreams and contribute meaningfully to society. The latest contributions from this year’s gala are set to further enhance Stony Brook’s legacy of academic excellence and social mobility.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s extensive career transcends the realm of academia. He’s a celebrated TV host of Cosmos, a reboot of Carl Sagan’s original series, and co-founder of the Emmy-nominated podcast StarTalk. These platforms have made complex scientific ideas more understandable and entertaining for a broad audience.

Tyson’s impact also extends to STEM advocacy. The Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars Program, initiated with a $56.6 million donation from the Simons Foundation, aims to train future leaders in STEM by providing comprehensive support to 50 new students each year. The inaugural cohort began their journey in the fall of 2023.

Overall, the 25th Stars of Stony Brook Gala was not just a celebration of Tyson’s achievements but also an inspiring reminder of the ongoing efforts to advance science education and ensure equitable opportunities for all students. The event highlighted how collective contributions can significantly alter the trajectory of many lives, fostering a new generation of scholars and innovators.

For more detailed insights and photos from the gala, you can read the full story at SB Matters.

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