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A scholarship begets more scholarships

Donors want today’s and tomorrow’s students to receive what meant so much to them

Carol and Stephen Schimpff
Carol and Stephen Schimpff
The lives of Carol and Stephen Schimpff received a boost when a scholarship let Carol go to college. They want to similarly help Yale medical students.

Stephen C. Schimpff, MD ’67, speaks with appreciation when he talks about his years at Yale School of Medicine. “I started medical school two weeks after my wife Carol and I got married,” says Steve, a quasi-retired internist, professor of medicine and public policy, and former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center—and author of six books, including Longevity Decoded: The 7 Keys to Healthy Aging.

Now married to Carol for 55-plus years, Stephen says that med school was challenging but also that it shaped who he later became. “There is something unique about the Yale system of medical education. Instead of memorizing everything, we were taught to truly think about what we were learning, to always want to learn more.” While Steve was in school and residency training, Carol worked with the late Alvan R. Feinstein, MD, Sterling Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, who became a mentor to both of them. The couple draw a direct line from their experiences in New Haven to what they were able to achieve in their careers. “Yale set us up for success,” says Steve. “Now, after long careers, raising a family, and living a thrifty lifestyle, we decided to share with Yale.”

They have given back, generously, in the form of the Carol R. and Stephen C. Schimpff Scholarship Fund for medical students, which will enable more students from all socioeconomic backgrounds both to attend the medical school and to graduate with as little financial burden as possible.

Their support of scholarships has a direct connection to their own experiences. A scholarship from an employer that Carol received while a part-time student allowed her to attend Douglass College, the women’s division of Rutgers University, where she and Steve met. That scholarship is what propelled her toward her job at Yale and ultimately to a career as an architect.

Last year, of the 496 students enrolled at Yale School of Medicine, 182 received scholarships based on need. “I like to say that talent and drive are distributed equally, but opportunity is not,” says N’Kenge Haines, the school’s director of financial aid. “Need-based financial aid allows talented, driven students who would do well at YSM, but who may not have the resources, to attend.”

Admission to the School of Medicine is need-blind, which is why gifts from donors like the Schimpffs are crucial. “We are committed to meeting the full financial need of students. That is the bedrock of our recruitment policy,” says Laura R. Ment, MD, professor of pediatrics and neurology and associate dean for admissions and financial aid.

Adds Haines, “The hope is not just to attract a more diverse student body, but also to ensure that students graduate with less debt, so they feel free to pursue a discipline that speaks to them, rather than focusing solely on what they’ll earn.”

The fund established by the Schimpffs—who have been honored as Sterling Fellows—will afford that freedom to even more students. Over the years, the couple considered different ways to donate, eventually making a half dozen gifts through what is known as a charitable gift annuity (CGA).

“A charitable gift annuity offers a way to strengthen your future and Yale School of Medicine’s future at the same time,” says Mary Beth Congdon, university director of planned giving at Yale. “If predictable fixed payments, tax savings, and the satisfaction of benefitting Yale are potential goals, the CGA is an excellent vehicle.”

Once an individual makes a gift through a CGA, Yale invests that money and pays the donor (or the donor’s designated beneficiary) a fixed annual amount as long as they live. The original sum (and any additional investment return) goes to Yale when the donor dies. That appealed to the Schimpffs. “Since Yale manages the annuity,” Steve says, “we get income without having to manage the investment, even if there’s a stock market downturn.” Steve is working on a new book and does a weekly TV show on health and wellness at their retirement community, while Carol is docent emeritus at the Walters Art Museum and a water-color artist, and helps to manage the large community gallery. “I am proud that Carol and I were at Yale as a student and an employee,” says Steve. “If we had to do it over, that is where we would want to be.”