The financier's widow donated a billion dollars for free training for doctors (6 photos)

2 March 2024

Ruth Gottesman, 93, the widow of a billionaire financier, donated $1 billion to pay for medical school students in the Bronx, New York. Thanks to it, students will be able to attend the educational institution for free. Ruth's donation is the largest in the history of this or any other medical school in the United States.

Pediatrician Ruth Gottesman, PhD, announced her generous gift Feb. 26 to students and faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Hearing the news, the students sobbed with overwhelming feelings and applauded the benefactress.

In recent decades, many billionaires have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to prominent medical schools and hospitals in Manhattan, New York's wealthiest borough. The Bronx is the poorest and most unhealthy borough in New York. It also has a high rate of premature mortality compared to other areas of the country.

Ruth's donation is the largest in the history of Albert Einstein College of Medicine or any other medical school in the country, college officials said. Fourth-year college students will receive tuition reimbursement for the spring semester, and those starting in the fall will study for free.

“I am delighted to have the enormous privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause,” Ruth said.

The 93-year-old woman has been associated with the college for 55 years.

In 1968, she joined the Einstein Children's Assessment and Rehabilitation Center and developed methods for assessing and treating learning problems. In 1992, she founded the center's first adult literacy program of its kind.

Six years later, Ruth was appointed founding director of the Emily Fisher Landau Center for Learning Disabilities at CERC. She is a professor emeritus of pediatrics and currently serves as chair of the college's board of trustees.

Her late husband, David Gottesman, built the Wall Street investment house First Manhattan Co. and was one of the first investors in the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate.

“David left me, without knowing it, an entire portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway shares,” Ruth told The New York Times. David, who died in 2022 at the age of 96, gave Ruth simple instructions about the inheritance: “Do with it what you see fit.”

“I hope he’s smiling and not frowning,” Ruth says. “But he gave me the opportunity to do it and I think he would be happy, I hope so.”

Her $1 billion gift ensures that new doctors will begin their careers debt-free. It will also expand student enrollment and attract applicants who otherwise could not afford to attend medical school.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine's annual M.D. tuition fee. is $59,458. However, the average amount of medical school debt in the United States is $202,453, not including undergraduate debt.

“We have great medical students, but this will open the door to many other students whose economic status is such that they don't even think about going to medical school,” Ruth says. — Each year, more than 100 students enroll at Albert Einstein College of Medicine seeking degrees in medicine and science. They emerge as highly trained scientists, compassionate and knowledgeable physicians with experience in finding new ways to prevent disease and provide the highest quality care.”

Albert Einstein College of Medicine is not the first medical school in the United States to waive tuition. In 2018, New York University announced it would begin offering free tuition to medical students, a decision that sparked a surge in applications.

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