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Einstein medical school becomes tuition free after $1bn donation from professor

Einstein medical school becomes tuition free after $1bn donation from professor
February 26
19:02 2024

Ruth Gottesman, a longtime professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, has donated $1 billion to the institution.

The donation is one of the largest charitable grants to a school in the United States.

Ruth is the 93-year-old widow of David Gottesman who was a protégé of Warren Buffett, an American billionaire businessman and the sixth richest man in the world.

She had made an early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate Buffett built.

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After Gottesman died in 2022, “he left me, unbeknownst to me, a whole portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway stock,” the professor told the New York Times in an interview.

“Do whatever you think is right with it,” she said, referencing the instructions by her late husband.

“I wanted to fund students at Einstein so that they would receive free tuition,” she said, adding that there was enough money to do that in perpetuity.

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Ruth also said her close friendship with Philip Ozuah, the paediatrician, who oversees the medical college and Montefiore Medical Centre, its affiliated hospital, as the chief executive officer of the health system, played a role in encouraging her decision.

The duo’s friendship began in early 2020 on a flight to West Palm Beach where they spoke about their childhoods — hers in Baltimore, his in Nigeria — and what they had in common.

Ozuah said he had moved to New York, not knowing a single person in the state, and spending years as a community doctor in the South Bronx before ascending to the top of the medical school.

He said their friendship blossomed during the coronavirus pandemic after Gottesman became ill with the new pathogen, and Ruth had a mild case.

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“That’s how the friendship evolved,” he said. “I spent probably every day for about three weeks, visiting them in Rye.”

The paediatrician added he asked Ruth to head the medical school’s board of trustees.

Gottesman’s widow said she was surprised given that she had done the job before, but particularly because of her age.

Ruth said she told Ozuah that the gesture reminded her of the fable about the lion and the mouse, where the lion spares the mouse’s life and the mouse tells him: “Maybe someday I’ll be helpful to you”.

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