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Donation of $1 billion will cover medical school tuition in New York city


Former professor’s gift ranks among largest in American history, according to news report.

A donation of $1 billion will provide free education in perpetuity for medical students in the Bronx, New York.

Dr. Ruth Gottesman, 93, a former professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, gave the money toward tuition for the school’s 737 medical doctor students, according to a report by The New York Times. Ruth Gottesman inherited the money from her late husband, David “Sandy” Gottesman, a Wall Street financier, protégé of Warren Buffet, and an early investor in Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway business.

© Albert Einstein College of Medicine

© Albert Einstein College of Medicine

The gift is one of the largest charitable donations to an educational institution and most likely the largest to a medical school in American history, according to The New York Times.

“We have terrific medical students, but this will open it up for many other students whose economic status is such that they wouldn’t even think about going to medical school,” Ruth Gottesman said in The New York Times report.

The college also issued a news release explaining details about the donation, which will begin by reimbursing current fourth-year medical students for their spring 2024 semester tuition. Beginning in August, all students will receive free tuition.

"This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it,” Yaron Tomer, MD, said in the news release. Tomer is chief academic officer at Montefiore Medicine and the Marilyn and Stanley Katz Dean at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Additionally, it will free up and lift our students, enabling them to pursue projects and ideas that might otherwise be prohibitive,” he said. “We will be reminded of the legacy this historic gift represents each spring as we send another diverse class of physicians out across the Bronx and around the world to provide compassionate care and transform their communities.”

The Albert Einstein College of Medicine has long been affiliated with Yeshiva University in New York.

“We congratulate the Gottesman family for their visionary leadership in significantly advancing Einstein’s founding mission to expand access for all students to top tier medical education,” Yeshiva University President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman said in a statement shared with Medical Economics. “For decades, Einstein has generated groundbreaking research and world class physicians. This is a monumental day for our affiliated medical school and for values based medical education.”

The school charges more than $59,000 a year for tuition, and many graduates face more than $200,000 in medical school debt once the graduate.

The school charges more than $59,000 a year for tuition, and many graduates face more than $200,000 in medical school debt once the graduate.

Sandy Gottesman, 96, died in 2022, and left the money to his wife with the instructions: “Do whatever you think is right with it,” the report said. Ruth Gottesman also described the growth of her friendship with Philip O. Ozuah, MD, PhD, president and CEO of the Montefiore health system, which is affiliated with the medical school.

The two spent time together on a flight in early 2020. Ozuah served as the physician for the Gottesmans while they recovered from COVID-19 in 2020, and he later asked Ruth Gottesman to lead the medical school’s board of trustees. In a December meeting, Ruth Gottesman disclosed the possibility of “a transformative gift for the medical school.” Ozuah suggested “you could have education be free,” and Ruth Gottesman pounced.

“That’s what makes me very happy about this gift,” she said in the report. “I have the opportunity not just to help Phil, but to help Montefiore and Einstein in a transformative way — and I’m just so proud and so humbled — both — that I could do it.”

Ruth Gottesman wanted to remain anonymous, but Ozuah said others might find her life inspiring. The pair discussed the donation on Feb. 23.

The Albert Einstein College of Medicine is rooted in creation of a new medical school by Yeshiva University. It was the first medical school to be built in New York city since 1897, and physicist Albert Einstein agreed to permit his name to be used in 1953.

The school’s online history noted it has spaces dedicated to the Gottesmans. The Ruth L. Gottesman Clinical Skills Center has dozens of wet and dry labs and houses aging research programs. The D. Samuel Gottesman Library was renovated in 2013 to large and small group learning studios.

The gift is the second toward eliminating medical school cost in New York. Last year, New York University’s Grossman Long Island School of Medicine received a $200 million donation from Kenneth and Elaine Langone to guarantee full tuition scholarships in perpetuity for all students, regardless of need.

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