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

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

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 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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