Einstein medical school students get free tuition

Montefiore Health chair Ruth Gottesman makes $1B donation to college of medicine


Ruth Gottesman brought tears of joy to her audience at the Montefiore Health System’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine on Monday — and won a standing ovation — with a single sentence.

“I’m happy to share with you that starting in August this year, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine will be tuition-free,” Gottesman declared in a lecture hall full of students. A former professor at the school and now the chair of its board of trustees as well as a Montefiore Health board member, Gottesman made a $1 billion donation to the school. It is believed to be the largest such gift to any medical school in the country.

“This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it,” said Dr. Yaron Tomer, the college’s Marilyn and Stanley Katz dean. “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,” Tomer added, “as we send another diverse class of physicians out across the Bronx and around the world to provide compassionate care and transform their communities.”

Gottesman’s transformational gift is intended to attract a talented and diverse pool of students who may not otherwise have the means to pursue a medical education, according to a news release from Dr. Philip Ozuah, president and chief executive of Montefiore Einstein, the umbrella organization for the college and Montefiore Health System.

“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Gottesman for this historic and transformational gift,” Ozuah stated. “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.”

All of the college’s current fourth-year medical students will be reimbursed for their spring-semester tuition, and, beginning in August, tuition will be free for every medical student. This year, the gift will benefit 737 students in the medical school, who currently pay an average of $59,458 a year in tuition.

“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 to communities here in the Bronx and all over the world.

“I am very thankful to my late husband, Sandy, for leaving these funds in my care,” she added, “and l feel blessed to be given the great privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause.”

David “Sandy” Gottesman, who died in 2022, made a fortune thanks to his early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, where he sat on the board. A Harvard Business School graduate, Gottesman cofounded the investment firm First Manhattan Co. He met Warren Buffett in 1962, and they remained friends for six decades. At the time of his death, First Manhattan managed more than $20 billion in assets, according to a Forbes profile.

Ruth Gottesman joined Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center in 1968. At a time when learning problems were often unrecognized and misdiagnosed, she developed widely used screening, evaluation and treatment modalities that have helped tens of thousands of children. In 1992, she started the Adult Literacy Program at CERC, the first program of its kind, which is still in operation.

In 1998, she was named the founding director of the Emily Fisher Landau Center for the Treatment of Learning Disabilities at CERC. Gottesman earned a bachelor’s degree at Barnard College and master’s and doctoral degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a clinical professor emerita of pediatrics, specializing in developmental medicine, at Einstein.

Over the course of her 55-year association with the college, Gottesman’s dedication and philanthropic vision have helped make Einstein the remarkable institution it is today. She and her late husband have been enormously generous donors in the past to its innovative research and education initiatives, according to a news release from the school.

“Ruth Gottesman’s extraordinary and unprecedented gift gives new meaning to selfless determination and transformational philanthropy,” said Dan Tishman, chair of Montefiore Einstein’s board of trustees. “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.”

The college was founded in 1955 with a mission to welcome all students, without restrictions, and it has become one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. In addition to the medical students, this year the college is home to 209 Ph.D. students, 124 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and roughly 240 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates.

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