A Good Turn Deserves Another: Dr. Philip Ozuah and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to Receive a $1 Billion Donation That Will Provide Free Tuition to Medical Students in Perpetuity

Philip is in the news again – and as always – for the right reasons.

Before we dive into the full story, I wanted to add a few personal words. I celebrate Dr. Philip Ozuah, not only for his remarkable achievements but also for the valuable lessons his journey always teaches us.

I have written in the past about what his support meant to me as Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, for our building project. Philip's support for the Student Hostel Building Project at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan (CoMUI) personifies who he is, especially his dedication to education, loyalty to friends, and commitment to community development. He donated $1 million to the project, in the belief that investing in the future of our medical education, as well as ensuring that our students have access to quality facilities, were non-negotiable.

Apparently, he was only paving the way for similar, albeit greater, things to happen in his life too. Truly, one good turn deserves another.

The story of how Philip met Ruth teaches us important lessons about life. They both met for the first time by chance on a flight and found they shared common interests despite their different backgrounds. Philip was an immigrant doctor from Nigeria (a graduate of our great institution) while Ruth hails from Baltimore, USA.  However, as their friendship developed, Philip showed his genuine care and concern by making daily house calls to check on Ruth and her husband during his illness. This act of kindness, I believe, laid the foundation for a deep and lasting bond built on shared trust and mutual respect by both friends.

Ruth's incredible generosity, inspired by her late husband and nurtured by her friendship with Philip, led her to donate $1 billion to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. This donation will provide free tuition to medical students in perpetuity. In so many ways, the story reminds me of what we are trying to achieve with our work here at the College and even in providing scholarship opportunities to our students. Good education or life-changing research costs a lot of money and I hope everyone who reads this is further encouraged to be kind, generous, and compassionate in their own lives, making the world a better place for everyone.

There are also several messages from this donation that I want to spotlight to our nation’s leaders and our dear students and potential students to learn from:

  • Again, I must reiterate - good education costs money.
  • Medical education is very expensive, and someone must pay for this.
  • Many students in the USA and other parts of the world must take loans to pay for their education and decades after graduation they are still paying back the loans.
  • Medical Education in a top US school costs on average $60,000 to $70,000 or more every year and this amount of funding must accompany every student into medical school through a scholarship or a loan.
  • Here in the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan the average student pays the equivalent of less than $200 each year for medical and dental education so they leave school and can start a life free of loans.

The big question is who or what makes up for the additional funds that are needed to train students. Certainly, the government subsidises this. But is the subsidy enough? Who pays the bills for electricity, water, cleaning services, internet, and the numerous infrastructure and human resources needed? These are also my thoughts as I look for resources to keep going in my role as Provost. Is it possible to cost the amount needed to train one medical student and ensure this amount comes along with them into medical or dental school? Can our philanthropists in Nigeria provide scholarships for students so universities can have adequate funding?

This was a short but real and painful digression for me as I seek funding to support indigent students, keep the infrastructure going, and utilise my research staff to run several essential services in CoMUI. 

Let us all continue to learn from Philip. This new win reaffirms the age-old adage that when you give, you will also receive abundantly.

Proud of you, Philip! I wish you many more successes.

Olayinka Omigbodun FAS
Professor of Psychiatry &

Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.


News Flash

At the age of 93, Ruth Gottesman, widow of a prominent Wall Street financier, has donated a massive $1 billion gift to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directing that the funds be utilised to cover tuition for all future students.

Dr. Gottesman became close friends with Dr. Philip Ozuah,
who oversees the medical college and its affiliated hospital, Montefiore Medical Center...
Photo Credit: David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

A former professor at Einstein herself, Ruth Gottesman's dedication to education and service is deeply ingrained. Her late husband, David Gottesman, entrusted her with a significant stock portfolio, accompanied by the simple directive to "do whatever you think is right with it."

Reflecting on her husband's legacy, Gottesman was overwhelmed by the weight of this responsibility. However, with the encouragement of her children, she resolved to honour his memory in a profoundly impactful manner. She was driven by her passion for education and a desire to alleviate the burden of medical school debt. To this end, Gottesman recognized the transformative potential of her inheritance, and her vision was clear: to ensure that future generations of medical students could pursue their dreams without financial impediments. Gottesman's decision to focus her philanthropy on Einstein College of Medicine is particularly poignant given the institution's location in the Bronx, one of New York City's most underserved communities. This act of generosity holds the promise of expanding access to medical education and fostering diversity within the field.

In her own words, Gottesman expressed her profound joy and humility at the opportunity to effect transformative change. She sees her gift not only to support future students but also as a catalyst for broader societal impact. As she reflected on her decision, Gottesman emphasized her hope that her donation would enable a wider pool of aspiring doctors to pursue their dreams, regardless of economic status. Her goal is to empower individuals who may not have previously considered a career in medicine to realize their full potential.

 “We have terrific medical students, 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,” she said.

“That’s what makes me very happy about this gift,” she added. “I have the opportunity not just to help Phil, but to help Montefiore and Einstein in a transformative way — and I’m just so proud and so humbled — both — that I could do it.”  (Full story can be found in the New York Times here: $1 Billion Donation Will Provide Free Tuition at a Bronx Medical School)

In November 2019, Dr. Philip Ozuah became the CEO of Montefiore Medicine, which oversees Montefiore Health System (MHS) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He took over from Dr. Steven Safyer, who retired after serving for 40 years. Montefiore Medical Center is a hospital in New York State that offers various medical services such as geriatrics, neurology, cardiology, and more.

Prior to becoming CEO, Dr. Ozuah spent close to 25 years at Montefiore. He previously served as President of Montefiore and Head Doctor at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM). During his time there, he focused on providing excellent care to all, especially those who couldn't easily access healthcare. Under his leadership, Montefiore's medical specialties were ranked in the top 1% nationally, and CHAM was recognized as one of the best children's hospitals in America.

Dr. Ozuah is passionate about medical education and research. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and has been a professor and chair of paediatrics at Einstein College of Medicine. In his roles, Dr. Ozuah worked to make healthcare more accessible to underserved communities, recruited talented individuals, improved medical education programs, and enhanced the hospital's overall performance.

He has received numerous awards for his teaching and patient care, including being recognised by Modern Healthcare magazine as one of the top COOs in healthcare. Ozuah currently serves as a trustee of the New York Academy of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. He was also the recipient of the AIS Free Voices Changing Lives Award in 2023.

As always, the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan rejoices with Dr. Philip Ozuah and celebrates this monumental achievement. Indeed, Dr. Ozuah's dogged dedication to healthcare access, medical education, and community service serves as an inspiration to aspiring doctors and healthcare professionals, not only here in Nigeria, but all over the world. We look forward to more wins, continued collaboration, and shared success in advancing medical education and healthcare delivery.

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