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Easing Students’ Financial Woes

Les Reid, MD (Med’66), is an engineer, a businessman, a physician, and, now, a fairy godfather of sorts to Geisel medical students.

Reid, who grew up in New Jersey, first attended Dartmouth College because he wanted a small liberal arts school and Dartmouth offered a scholarship, “which was pretty high on my list because my family didn’t have much money,” he says.

Now, in a position to give back, he and his wife, Estelle, have included a gift to scholarships at the medical school in their estate plans. They’ve also established a special fund at the medical school to assist students with emergency expenses. The couple is funding a $50,000 endowment, named the Les and Estelle Reid Student Emergency Fund, which assists medical students with unexpected financial hardships, such as dental needs, car trouble, study aids, and traveling to a funeral.

“Most students do not have income or much savings,” explains Gordon “Dino” Koff, director of financial aid at Geisel. “When life throws them a wrench—such as a health issue, a family emergency, or just bad luck—it’s wonderful to have this fund available to help.”

More than 90% of Geisel students rely on loans to fund their medical education and more than 55% receive scholarships, so they often don’t have the money for such emergencies.

“All of this is money the students don’t need to worry about paying back,” says Michelle Chamley, assistant director of financial aid at Geisel, “which is a huge relief to them.”

Giving Back

Reid is enthusiastic about giving back because of the education he received not just at the medical school but at Dartmouth’s other professional schools, too. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1956, Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business in 1957, and Dartmouth Medical School (now the Geisel School of Medicine) in 1966. In fact, he is the only person in Dartmouth’s history to hold degrees from all four institutions.

“My mother firmly believed that the reason I did all of this was I never could make up my mind about what I wanted to do. I think she was partially right,” Reid says.

However, his eclectic interests served him well. After graduating from Dartmouth Medical School’s then two-year program and finishing his MD degree at Johns Hopkins, Reid joined the Medical Computer Applications Group at IBM. Later he practiced cardio-pulmonary medicine, and eventually served as medical director of Blue Shield Insurance Plan.

Common Thread

Retired since 2001, Reid has no trouble identifying the common thread in his varied career.

“All of the things that I’ve done in medicine and engineering involve problem-solving,” he says. “I like to solve problems. The Thayer School and the Medical School taught me how to do that well.”

Les and Estelle are now helping to solve financial problems for Geisel medical students.

“If a student’s budget didn’t include dollars for a winter coat, if someone’s mother dies and there’s no money for an airplane fare, this fund will provide financial help,” Reid says. “We wanted to do something on a more personal level.”