Ruth Gottesman gives $1 billion gift to make Einstein medical school tuition-free

Gottesman is serving as chair of the board of trustees for the second time; donation is largest ever made to a U.S. medical school

Medical school students attending the Albert Einstein College of Medicine will have their tuition covered starting in August, following a $1 billion gift from Dr. Ruth Gottesman announced on Monday. The donation is the largest made to any U.S. medical school, according to the announcement.

Gottesman, 93, is the widow of billionaire David “Sandy” Gottesman, an early investor in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, who died in 2022. She chairs the Einstein board of trustees.

“Each year, well over 100 students enter Albert Einstein College of Medicine in their quest for degrees in medicine and science,” Gottesman said in a statement. “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, and l feel blessed to be given the great privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause.” 

Gottesman, who has a doctorate in education from Columbia University, first joined the Einstein system in 1968, working in its Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center helping develop screening tools to diagnose learning disabilities. She served as a clinical professor in the school’s department of pediatrics and has also served in a number of leadership positions in the school. Gottesman served as chair of the Einstein board of trustees from 2007-2014 and returned to the role in 2020. 

Gottesman mandated that the university keep its name, rather than have it bear her and her husband’s name. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, located in the Bronx, was formerly the medical school of Yeshiva University. It is now affiliated with both Montefiore Health System and Yeshiva University. Tuition at Einstein was previously $59,000 annually. 

“I believe we can change healthcare history when we recognize that access is the path to excellence,” Philip Ozuah, president and CEO of Montefiore Einstein, said in a statement. “With this gift, Dr. Gottesman will fund excellence in perpetuity and secure our foundational mission of advancing human health.” 

The Gottesman family, primarily through its eponymous fund, are among Yeshiva University’s biggest patrons, in addition to funding other New York Jewish schools, including Abraham Joshua Heschel School, SAR Academy in Riverdale and Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. The Gottesman Fund is also one of the primary donors toward the construction of the National Library of Israel’s new building in Jerusalem. 

The donation follows a similar gift by billionaire philanthropists Kenneth and Elaine Langone of $200 million donation to NYU Grossman Long Island School of Medicine in July 2023, which also made that institution tuition-free.