Building on their longstanding commitment to social justice, equality, and diversity, Louise and Leonard Riggio each gave a gift of $5.6 million to Weill Cornell Medicine to create a specific scholarship for financially-needed black medical students.
This scholarship, which is part of Weill Cornell Medical College’s debt-free scholarship program for financially eligible medical students, will cover the full cost of attendance for all four years of medical school, and replace that portion of the scholarship package that the student will receive regardless. Race and increase the total funding available for the debt-free scholarship program.
The Holcomb-Riggio Scholarship – named in honor of Dr. Kevin Holcomb, Associate Dean of Admissions and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology – will be awarded to two registered students each year.
The Debt-Free Scholarship Program at Weill Cornell Medical College provides financial support to all medical students who have a demonstrated financial need, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. The Holcomb-Riggio Scholarship provides essential support, expanding the pool of funds available, while also drawing attention to the critical need of a diverse group of clinicians.
As a result of Riggios’ advocacy for civil rights, the grant aims to eventually lead to an increase in the numbers of black doctors in black communities — and a decline in health inequalities that have plagued communities of color, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This scholarship is a small drop in a huge ocean,” Reggio said. “But we hope other people will see what we’re doing and say, ‘That’s a nice idea. We’d like to join in,” or “We’d like to do it ourselves.” “
Holcomb, who met Regius through a family member – a former patient – is working closely with the couple to fine-tune the scholarship program, with plans for a mentoring component that includes the physician’s ongoing involvement.
“Mr. Ms. Reggio’s exceptional gift will help us continue to provide outstanding medical training to a diverse group of students, with the long-term goal of eliminating disparities in healthcare and improving quality of life,” said Dr. Augustine M. and Susan Weiss, Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine. “Diversity and Extension are inextricably linked in this scholarship, demonstrating the power of what we can do when we come together as a community.”
“Having my name on this scholarship fills me with pride and serves as a source of motivation to ensure the success of Holcomb-Reggio Scholars,” said Holcomb, who believes the gift will have a powerful impact on society. “The underrepresentation of black doctors is a critical factor in the increased burden of disease seen in the black community. Riggios and I realized that this is not a matter of altruism – it is a matter of life and death.”
Leonard Reggio, founder and retired CEO of Barnes & Noble, has long been known for his endorsement and philanthropy, with awards including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Frederick Douglass Medal, and the Anti-Defamation League’s Americanism Award. Known for their activism on Earth, the couple consider charitable work as a natural companion to the generosity of the soul.
“We were raised to be good citizens, and that is how we raised our children. If you have a leg raised, give someone else a leg,” said Louise Reggio. push it forward.”
Leonard Reggio said, “There is nothing more noble than saving lives, and when you are a doctor, you not only save lives, you make life better.”
Linda Lombroso, coordinator of development communications at Weill Cornell Medicine.