$1B Donation to Cover Med School Tuition for All

Ruth Gottesman wants graduates to begin careers free of debt
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2024 7:40 PM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2024 5:03 AM CST
Donor Picks Up Tab for School's Medical Students
The Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine/Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.   (PRNewsFoto/Albert Einstein College of Medicine)

A former professor at a New York City medical school has given it $1 billion, saying the money should be used to cover tuition for all future students. Ruth Gottesman, 93, studied learning disabilities and operated literacy programs at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, the New York Times reports. Her late husband, David Gottesman, was an early investor in Berkshire Hathaway and a protege of Warren Buffett. The financier died in 2022 at age 96. His widow, who chairs the school's board of trustees, imposed no naming demands.

Gottesman said her husband left her a portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway stock she wasn't expecting with the instruction to "Do whatever you think is right with it." The decision was overwhelming, so she didn't think about it for a while. In December, she met with Dr. Philip Ozuah, a friend and a pediatrician who oversees Einstein and its affiliated hospital. "If someone said, 'I'll give you a transformative gift for the medical school,' what would you do?" she asked him. Ozuah said he had three ideas. "One," he said, "you could have education be free —" and was interrupted. That was it, Gottesman decided.

Tuition at Einstein runs more than $59,000 a year, and nearly half of graduates leave owing more than $200,000, per the Times, while the rate at most New York City medical schools is less than 25%. Gottesman, who holds a doctorate in education, wants new doctors to start their careers without that burden. She also hopes the donation will broaden opportunities for students who now are shut out. "We have terrific medical students," Gottesman said, "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." (More medical schools stories.)

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