NYC medical school goes tuition-free thanks to $1 billion gift

Former professor Ruth Gottesman announced she was donating $1 billion to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to cover tuition for students from now on. She credited her husband, a Wall Street investor, for leaving her with the financial means to make the donation.


National News

February 27, 2024 - 3:46 PM

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NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City medical school will be tuition-free for all students from now on thanks to a $1 billion donation from a former professor, the widow of a Wall Street investor.

Ruth Gottesman announced the gift and its purpose to students and faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Monday, bringing some in the audience to tears and others to their feet, cheering. Gottesman, 93, has been affiliated with the college for 55 years and is the chairperson of its board of trustees.

The gift is intended to attract a diverse pool of applicants who otherwise might not have the means to attend. It will also let students graduate without debt that can take decades to repay, college administrators said. Tuition at Einstein is $59,458 per year. The average medical school debt in the U.S. is $202,453, excluding undergraduate debt, according to the Education Data Initiative.

“Each year, well over 100 students enter Albert Einstein College of Medicine in their quest for degrees in medicine and science,” Gottesman said. “They leave as superbly trained scientists and compassionate and knowledgeable physicians, with the expertise to find new ways to prevent diseases and provide the finest health care.”

Gottesman credited her late husband, David “Sandy” Gottesman for leaving her with the financial means to make such a donation. David Gottesman built the Wall Street investment house, First Manhattan, and was on the board of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. He died in 2022 at age 96.

“l feel blessed to be given the great privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause,” Ruth Gottesman said.

The gift is believed to be the largest made to any medical school in the country, according to Montefiore Einstein, the umbrella organization for Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Montefiore Health System.

“I believe we can change healthcare history when we recognize that access is the path to excellence,” said Dr. Philip Ozuah, president and chief executive of Montefiore Einstein.

Gottesman joined Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center in 1968 and developed screening and treatments for learning problems. She started the first-of-its-kind Adult Literacy Program at the center in 1992, and in 1998 was named the founding director of the Emily Fisher Landau Center for the Treatment of Learning Disabilities at CERC. She is clinical professor emerita of pediatrics at Einstein.

Through their foundation, the Gottesman Fund, the family has supported charities in Israel and within the U.S. Jewish community, especially through gifts to schools, universities and New York City’s American Museum of Natural History.

Einstein becomes the second tuition-free medical school in New York. In 2018, New York University School of Medicine announced that it would cover the tuition of all its students.