Medical school covers tuition in perpetuity

A Bronx medical school receives a $1 billion donation, the largest ever recorded.

A longtime professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is making free tuition available to all students going forward. Ruth Gottesman, a 93-year-old widow of a Wall Street financier, has donated $1 billion to the medical school located in the Bronx.

When she taught at Einstein, Dr. Gottesman studied learning disabilities, developed a screening test and ran literacy programs. She is the current Chair of the Einstein Board of Trustees and Montefiore Health System. Gottesman’s donation is one of the largest charitable donations to an educational institution in the US. This fortune came from her late husband, David Gottesman, a protégé of Warren Buffett, who built the conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.

Gottesman’s husband died in 2022 at 96 years old, leaving her with a portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway stock. The instructions he left her stated: “Do whatever you think is right with it.” She told The New York Times, “I wanted to fund students at Einstein so that they would receive free tuition.” Gottesman knows there is enough money to do so in perpetuity.

Dr. Philip Ozuah, President and CEO of Montefiore Einstein, the umbrella organization for Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, announced the donation on Feb. 26. The donation will ensure that no student at Einstein will have to pay tuition ever again.

“This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it. Additionally, it will free up and lift our students, enabling them to pursue projects and ideas that might otherwise be prohibitive. 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,” said Dr. Yaron Tomer, the Marilyn and Stanley Katz Dean at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

While the donation is notable for its size, it is also important because Einstein is located in the Bronx, New York City’s poorest borough. Currently, the Bronx ranks as the unhealthiest county in New York. However, over the years, a number of billionaires have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to better-known medical schools and hospitals in Manhattan, the city’s wealthiest borough.

Einstein will refund all current fourth-year students their spring 2024 tuition payments and effective August of this year, all students will receive free tuition.

“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Gottesman for this historic and transformational gift. I believe we can change healthcare history when we recognize that access is the path to excellence. With this gift, Dr. Gottesman will fund excellence in perpetuity and secure our foundational mission of advancing human health,” said President Ozuah.

Gottesman said that her donation will now enable new doctors to begin their careers without medical school debt. She hopes that this will broaden the student body to include people who could otherwise not afford to attend medical school. Speaking with The New York Times, Gottesman said, “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.”

It is a condition of Gottesman’s gift that the Einstein College of Medicine not change its name to honor her. Albert Einstein agreed to confer his name on the medical school, which opened in 1955. She told The New York Times that the name could not be beat.

“Ruth Gottesman’s extraordinary and unprecedented gift gives new meaning to selfless determination and transformational philanthropy. She has always been an inspiration to her fellow board members and the entire Montefiore Einstein community. She will have the lasting gratitude of all who choose to train and learn here,” said Dan Tishman, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Montefiore Einstein.

Post Author: Isabella Musollino