A Giving Legacy
How Supporting a Passion Can Help Students Inside and Outside the Classroom
By Christine McGrath
A full scholarship is a life-changing opportunity for any student. It sets them up for a future free of the constraints of student loans. Recognizing the limitless opportunities that an endowed scholarship can provide, Douglas Brand, MD, one of the first doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital when it opened in 1980, and his wife, Barbara Brand, PhD, a university librarian for more than 30 years, are opening doors so that others’ lives can be forever changed by Stony Brook.
Reason to Give
The Drs. Douglas and Barbara Brand Diversity in Medicine Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2016 to help ease some of the financial burden for medical students from diverse backgrounds. After planning their estate and learning of the recent New York state match program and Simons Infinity Investment, the couple added $500,000 to their scholarship to cover the total cost of medical school tuition — an investment that will provide a total of $750,000 to their endowment with the state match, as well as unlock $750,000 to the university’s unrestricted endowment with the Simons Foundation gift.
Douglas understands the value of this, having received a full scholarship to medical school himself, said his wife, Barbara Brand. “Columbia paid for all of Doug’s medical school tuition and fees. That was our reason for wanting to add to our endowment to provide full scholarships.”
Another reason for their investment, Douglas Brand explained, is that his father created an endowed scholarship at the University of Connecticut, where he was an engineering professor. “His donation provided tuition for one new engineering student each year, and it gave him a lot of joy,” he said. “My father linked his legacy to that university by helping students, and I thought we could do the same at Stony Brook.”
Marquise Soto ’25 — the first recipient of the Brands’ scholarship — worked throughout his undergraduate studies to pay his way through school. He said he feels honored by the opportunity the Brands’ scholarship presents, as it will enable him to focus solely on his studies at the Renaissance School of Medicine. “My main priority is to become the best physician I can be,” said Soto. “This scholarship has afforded me peace of mind knowing that I am one step closer to paying off my student loans.” He said he hopes to be able to give back to future students and contribute to their education and professional advancement in the same way that the Brands contributed to his.
“We are very happy to be a small part of the bigger picture at Stony Brook,” Barbara Brand said. “Knowing that Marquise is able to focus on his studies gives us that same joy that Doug’s father felt. And that is a good feeling.”
Beyond the Classroom
The Brands are not the only ones who have built a legacy at Stony Brook University that is driven by passion. Many faculty members who spend their careers at Stony Brook see how important it is not only for students to be supported, but also for programs that expand the student experience in the classroom and support faculty excellence.
This stands true for a research faculty member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy — who is also an SBU alumnus — who wishes to remain anonymous. He received a fellowship for his PhD and research grants to support his lab work at Stony Brook. He realized that the department needed funding to support guest lecturers, workshops, retreats and training-related experiences when he made the transition to his current position, where he oversees hardware in the labs. Three years ago, he started donating current-use funds to help with those expenses. After hearing about the state match program, he realized that an endowment would enable him to make a greater impact on future generations.
“When I realized my gift could impact the Department of Physics and Astronomy forever, I knew it was the right thing to do,” he said.
Justin Fincher, vice president for Advancement, said he is grateful to see donors taking this perspective. “Endowed scholarships and fellowships benefit not just one, but countless generations of Stony Brook University students. They are an incredible way to invest in the future and to build a legacy at Stony Brook that will live on infinitely.”