Tribute to Jim Simons, former co-Chair of Friends of IHES

With deep sorrow, Friends of IHES shares the news of Jim Simons’ passing last Friday, May 10th, 2024.

Jim Simons was an award-winning mathematician, a legend in quantitative investing, and an inspired and generous philanthropist.

He chaired the math department at Stony Brook University in New York, and his mathematical breakthroughs during that time are now instrumental to fields such as string theory, topology and condensed matter physics.

In 1978, Jim founded what would become Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that pioneered quantitative trading and became one of the most profitable investment firms in history. He then turned his focus to making a difference in the world through the Simons Foundation, Simons Foundation International, Math for America and other philanthropic efforts.

Jim first visited IHES in the seventies and he stayed very close to the Institute ever since, where he sat on the Board of Directors since 2014. Together with his spouse Marilyn, they are the Friends of IHES and the Institute’s most significant donors. Their support of IHES and Friends of IHES, especially through the Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International, has been completely transformative and unparalleled. In 2022, they became co-Chairs of Friends of IHES. Together, they successfully established a complementary endowment fund for IHES in the United States.

In recognition of all the support Jim gave to IHES, and more generally to French mathematics and fundamental research, facilitating scientific cooperation and dialogue at an international level, he was awarded in 2016, the Legion of Honor, which is the highest French order of merit, by the French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud.

When Jim stepped down from his role as co-Chair of Friends of IHES, the directors adopted the following resolution to express their gratitude for his exceptional and devoted service to Friends of IHES:

WHEREAS Jim Simons’ initial support was essential to the decision of founding Friends of IHES in 1999;
WHEREAS Jim Simons’ counsel and extraordinary generosity, through several major gifts, challenge gifts and matching gifts, have been invaluable to Friends of IHES and served as a driving force for its fundraising strategy;
WHEREAS Jim Simons’ exceptional commitment to Friends of IHES, with his participation to all major events and galas organized by the Corporation, has served as an inspiration to many of its donors and has greatly contributed to developing a strong and faithful community of supporters of the Corporation all across the US, and in New York in particular;
WHEREAS Jim Simons’ willingness to host private events for the benefit of Friends of IHES allowed the Corporation to cultivate its network of donors and thank them for their support;
WHEREAS Jim Simons served as a Director on the Board of Friends of IHES from 2021 to 2024 and served as Co-Chair from 2022 to 2024;
WHEREAS Jim Simons initiated the idea of setting up a dedicated endowment fund for Friends of IHES and enthusiastically encouraged participation, thereby greatly increasing the amount of the funds raised by the Corporation under his leadership;
WHEREAS his fellow Directors of Friends of IHES have greatly valued and appreciated his tireless support, his leadership, his energy and friendship;
Be it, therefore, RESOLVED that the Directors of Friends of IHES unanimously express their gratitude for his exceptional and devoted service to Friends of IHES.

Friends of IHES and all of its community are greatly saddened by this news and are mourning alongside Marilyn and the Simons family.