ARC - Gateway Institute for Pre-College Education - CUNY
With his unrelenting determination and optimism, Dr. Alfred Gellhorn had a profound impact on the evolution of the medical community, and he has ensured that this community will be more representative of and responsive to the society it must serve.
A Life and a Legacy On March 25, 2008, Alfred Gellhorn died at the age of 94. A founder of the Gateway Institute and a tireless crusader for increasing the number of minority doctors and medical professionals through access to education, he was a gifted doctor, a pioneering administrator, and an inspirational teacher. We first met Alfred in the late fall of 1973 at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. He was a patrician man, quick to smile, but keenly focused on our goal. When we found ourselves tackling daily challenges, it was Alfred who put the bigger picture firmly back into foucs. Alfred saw and appreciated each person’s individuality and uniqueness, and the proof was evident from the many and varied friends who surrounded him over the years. He was just as interested in teaching high school biology to ninth grade students as he was in teaching the brightest cancer researchers or the most talented medical students. Alfred helped us to envision that we were creating opportunities for students traditionally ignored or left out by “the system.” We started with medicine as a goal for the profession of many Gateway and Bridge to Medicine students and soon realized the world is a big and very interesting place and our students were hungry for all kinds of knowledge, careers and challenges. Alfred worked side by side with us to develop the Gateway Programs and Schools and then helped guide us through the transition to creating the Gateway Institute for Pre- College Education. We learned that opportunities in many professional fields are difficult to find for students in our public school system. Alfred’s intent in supporting our efforts and spearheading various initiatives, like Sophie Davis and the Bridge to Medicine programs and later Gateway, was to bring many forces in society together for social change. We weren’t just making programs for students, we were laying the groundwork for those students to have fuller and more meaningful lives, students who would become the leaders as our time came to an end. It is hard to believe that Alfred is not guiding us day by day, as he did for more than three decades. What remains, even in his absence, is the sense he instilled in us of the urgency and importance of making change and keeping at it year in and year out. Alfred worked until his last days and left a legacy that will take three more decades to be played out. He was a great man, a great teacher, a wonderful, nurturing mentor and he made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of young people who never met him or never knew him. We were lucky to have done both. This year’s Annual Report Card is a testament to the viability of Alfred’s vision. Gateway has expanded operations to Boston and is under consideration for use as a national model. We have also received a number of grants including a New York State Health Department planning grant, as well as grants from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and the Shippy Foundation. The results are students that achieve highest honors, outstanding placements, and acceptance at top schools. It is a fitting legacy for an amazing man. Elisabeth Iler, JD, Director Morton Slater, PhD, Director