Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Over the past few years, Steven Gross, MD ’73, has grown increasingly closer, emotionally speaking, to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, his alma mater.
“I have come to realize how grateful I am for the opportunities I have had,” says Dr. Gross, a practicing neonatologist in Syracuse, NY. “My professional career has been really great. I am very fortunate for everything I learned at Maryland.”
To express their gratitude toward the University of Maryland, Dr. Gross and his wife, Enid Gross, PhD, decided to make a generous financial gift of $250,000 to support the school’s Office of Student Affairs.
However, he fully admits that though the decision to make such a gift was not difficult, the emotional build-up to it did not occur overnight.
“My own appreciation for the school, and my desire to give back, developed over time,” he confesses. “It definitely came later.”
Dr. Gross, who is an alumni member of the School’s Campaign Executive Committee and the immediate past chair for the Medical Family Annual Fund, points to two specific events that caused him to consider how valuable his education was to him.
“My source of inspiration [for the gift] was the combination of two events,” he says: “Our daughter Caroline’s graduation from the school of medicine, and the 40th reunion of my Class of 1973, both of which took place in May 2013.”
“It was an emotional time,” he adds.
Dr. Gross says that once he and his wife had decided they would make a donation to the school, the next question was, “how?”
Because he is still practicing medicine and not quite ready to hang up his stethoscope, Dr. Gross opted to make a deferred charitable gift annuity, rather than an outright gift. A deferred charitable gift annuity is designed to provide a fixed annual income for life, along with other benefits, and is an ideal choice for those who have not yet retired, providing a tax deduction in the short term and tax-favored retirement income later.
Donors receive a charitable deduction for their gift, and the remainder eventually goes to the school to support scholarships, research, faculty development, or almost any other need.
“An annuity is a great way to contribute,” says Dr. Gross. “It’s a win-win for someone at any income level and is something that lives on beyond the donor. The school makes it very easy to contribute in this way.”
Dr. Gross adds that they also wanted to give back in a way that would make a unique impact.
“We wanted to do something creative, something meaningful that would be beneficial to students,” he says. “We wanted to feel like we had contributed in a positive way, more than just making a financial contribution.”
Therefore, the couple chose to establish The Steven J. Gross, MD '73 and Enid K. Gross, PhD Endowment for the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The purpose of the Gross fund is to provide endowed support, and used at the discretion of the school’s Associate Dean of Student Affairs and the Associate Dean of Medical Education, to create events and activities that promote and enhance the social well-being and wellness of medical students in their first and second years of medical school.
“We wanted to make life easier and happier for first- and second-year students. Those are very difficult years,” he says. “My memories of when I was in school are how isolating and difficult a time it was, with very little socializing and social support.”
“We were married in my first year of medical school and had our first child before I had finished my degree,” Dr. Gross adds. “I spent most of my time attending classes and studying. Having a bit more camaraderie and personal interactions would have made me feel less anxious.”
“I saw the same thing happen with my daughter,” he says. Caroline Gross, MD ’13, who graduated from the medical school this past May, is currently undergoing medical training in New York City.
Because the Grosses chose to make a planned gift, funding from their endowment to support student activities will be deferred and not immediately available. However, the couple wanted to see the intent of their gift initiated during their lifetime.
“We want everyone, including ourselves, to enjoy the benefits of our support now,” Dr. Enid Gross says.
As a result, the couple made arrangements with the Office of Student Affairs to create “rejuvenation breakfast” social events for first- and second-year medical students, following mid-terms.
Dr. Steven Gross credits his wife with the inspiration for the inaugural festivities.
“My goal was to create a totally non-academic function for them, as a reward, something that would be supportive of the students outside of the classrooms,” Dr. Enid Gross says. “They have spent their whole lives since Kindergarten focused on academia. I wanted to do something fun and social, that had nothing to do with class work. I wanted them to have a break and enjoy themselves, wanted everyone in the class to be involved, and to put a smile on their faces.”
The first activity, for the full first-year current medical school Class of 2017, was held in late January, and the second, for the full second-year current medical school Class of 2016, followed in mid February.
And what did the students think of the new breakfast-time get-togethers?
“They loved it,” Dr. Enid Gross says. “The students were very appreciative and enthusiastic about the event.”
“One student attending the breakfast, who had just heard that Steve had recently celebrated his 40th reunion said, ‘I will remember this event in 40 years,’” she adds. “So that was exciting to hear. We just really enjoyed ourselves, talking to them. They really are the best and brightest.”
The students were not the only ones who were won over.
“Everyone at Maryland has been very supportive of and happy with the event,” Dr. Steven Gross says. “The dean and other school leaders, along with some faculty, were at the event and all seemed very pleased.”
He adds that he and his wife believe the “rejuvenation breakfast” events can have a lasting effect, well beyond mid-terms and meals, and are planning to host them for many years to come.
“Anything you can do to bring everyone together in one place in a social and fun way is important,” he says. “This way, when these students become alumni and have a good feeling about the school, they will want to stay involved.”
Steven Gross, MD, and his wife, Enid Gross, PhD, chose to make a donation to the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the form of a deferred charitable gift annuity. One advantage of this option is that it will pay the donor, along with his or her spouse, or another designated individual, a fixed annual income starting at least one year after the gift is established. The receipt of payments can be deferred for five, 10, or 15 years, or even longer. A longer deferral period results in a bigger annuity payment and a larger tax deduction. As such, this type of gift is especially attractive for younger donors or those who have not yet retired, providing a tax deduction upfront and tax-favored retirement income later.
You transfer property to the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation, Inc., and receive a fixed income for life, in exchange. A portion of your deferred income is tax-free over your life expectancy. You will receive a charitable deduction in the year of your gift that can support scholarships, research, faculty development or almost any other school need.
If you would like to contribute to The Steven J. Gross, MD '73 and Enid K. Gross, PhD Endowment for the University of Maryland School of Medicine, or for more information about making a donation, contact the University of Maryland School of Medicine Office of Development at 410-706-8503.