Your Independent Alumni Association

This past week, one of our residents came into the Alumni Association office to discuss setting up an endowed scholarship in memory of a resident who passed away unexpectedly this past May. This resident is also a graduate of the College of Medicine from SUNY Downstate.

As we discussed her desire to set up this scholarship, she talked about how important it was for her to have this scholarship benefit students and not have the funds spent on supporting the school or the hospital. In my three years as your Executive Director, this sentiment has been repeated on a regular basis. It was a wonderful reminder of why the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate was incorporated.

In the 1880’s, long before there was a SUNY System, the graduates of the medical school in Brooklyn wanted to establish an Association that specifically supported students and student needs without the influence of the medical school or the medical school administration. These physicians banded together to form the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate. They each paid dues to create a pool of money to operate the organization and on top of that, made some donations to fund student needs.

In 2017, our Association, and the Alumni Fund continue to be separate legal entities from SUNY Downstate. Although our contract with the SUNY system dictates that all of our projects and programs must benefit SUNY Downstate, EVERY one of our funding decisions is made by our Board of Managers and Board of Trustees. These two boards have one seat for the President of SUNY Downstate, but every other seat is held by a graduate of the College of Medicine. These alumni dedicate their time and energy to make sure that every dollar that we grant out from your generous donations and dues payments goes directly to support students.

Our Board of Managers is an elected body of College of Medicine graduates who organize and manage the annual Homecoming and Reunion (May 4-6. 2018 at the Marriot Brooklyn Bridge), the Alumni Today Magazine (Editor Constance Shames MD ’63), Alumni Events, our email newsletters, and our social media. The Board of Trustees consists of alumni of the College of Medicine who have served at least one term on the Board of Managers. They are the voting body that determines any and all grants that are given to our medical students including scholarships, travel grants, event and club support, research support, and other requests to support student needs.

Thank you for your continued donations and dues payments. They allow us to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to our medical students, fund summer and full year student research projects, reimburse student travel to conferences where they are presenting papers, and purchase white coats and a senior class gift for each of our medical students.

This continuing legal separation (137 years ago) from SUNY Downstate allows us to do what you would do as an alumnus/a with the donations instead of being influenced by the needs of the hospital or medical school. Students first and students always. That is why we are here as an alumni association.

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