Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine
In 1945, under the leadership of President Samuel Belkin, a change in charter officially transformed Yeshiva College into Yeshiva University. This change in status, along with a further change in 1950 allowing the University to offer medical and dental degrees, opened the door to the one and only institution of higher learning that bears Einstein's name the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Einstein's involvement in this last chapter of his relationship to the University developed in stages, just as the first had. On March 23, 1951, he wrote Dr. Belkin in support of Yeshiva University's recently announced plans for a new medical school. On July 15, 952, he was named Honorary Chairman of the Medical School Campaign. On March 15,1953, in honor of his 74th birthday on March 14,a ceremony in Princeton, the presentation of a modest architectural model, a rare public appearance, and an extraordinary press conference marked the official adoption of his name for the medical school. A year later, this time on March 14, the Presentation of a second, more elaborate architectural model marked the celebration of his 75th birthday. Unfortunately, he died on April 18,1955, so that he saw neither the official opening on September 12 nor the dedication on October 23.
In 1946, even though the organizing committee for what became Brandeis University bore Einstein's name, he refused to allow the new institution to call itself Einstein University. He preferred that Yeshiva University likewise choose another name for its new medical school ,and he specifically suggested Maimonides, the most famous Jewish physician of all time. But sometime in 1952, rather uncharacteristically given his normal unwillingness to be pushed into the limelight, he did agree to lend his name.
The question is why. Einstein's public statements in support of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine reveal the strength of feeling which motivated him to make this exception. He wanted the school to “welcome students of all races and creeds," but Jewish auspices would "make it possible for many of our young people in this country to study medicine.” As often, he used the word "our" to include himself among Jews, for he identified with the young Jews prevented from entering medical school by anti-Semitic quotas. We can only speculate as to other underlying causes for his decision. Certainly the earlier history of his relationship with Yeshiva College and Bernard Revel must have played a role. And his health was growing more precarious, so he may have welcomed an appropriate way of being remembered. But given his lifelong willingness to devote himself to a worthy cause, he probably accepted the argument that the use of his name would increase the chances that the new institution would flourish sooner rather than later. After all, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as a new entry into a competitive national environment. Yet the chances for its success in 1955 were much greater than the chances during the Depression for the success of Yeshiva College. By the Spring of 1953, Honorary Chairpersons of the national campaign included "Eleanor Roosevelt, World's First Lady; Thomas E. Dewey, Governor, New York; Richard M. Nixon, Vice-President of U.S.; Vincent R. Impellitteri, Mayor, New York City; Eddie Cantor, Noted Radio-TV star; George Alpert, Leader, Brandeis University; George Meany, President of AFL; and Walter P. Reuther, President of C10" as well as the most famous of them all, Albert Einstein.