Florida Atlantic University received an estate pledge of $28 million from John and Ann Wood to support scholarships for students enrolled in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. This is the largest scholarship gift in FAU’s history and the largest known scholarship gift to a Florida public university’s medical school.
This transformative gift in memory of their son, Robert A. Wood, will create the opportunity for a debt-free tuition for aspiring physicians. It also is the hope of John and Ann Wood that it will inspire others to join in and increase scholarship support to cover the tuition of every FAU medical school student. The current cost of in-state tuition and fees per medical student for one year is $35,000, which amounts to $140,000 for four years. Students from outside of Florida also may participate and will receive a scholarship for the in-state tuition rate.
“The FairfaxWood Scholarship Foundation was inspired by the social and educational work of our eldest son, Bruce Fairfax Wood, a New Jersey-born Princeton graduate and chief engineer of Pres-T-Con Limited, a large, family-owned prestressed concrete business. His efforts on the island of Trinidad were centered on the reeducation of teens that had left school at age 11 and in improving the lives of the poorer village folk,” said philanthropist John Wood. “Once we relocated to Boca, we began giving scholarships for undergraduates in need of assistance. After the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas disaster, 10, four-year scholarships were given to graduates of that school each year, with 53 scholars currently being assisted. After reading of the massive debt medical students incurred, we decided to include the FAU College of Medicine into our scholarship program, with an ultimate aim of 80 students. Realizing there are many others in the community who could assist, we are anticipating this gift will inspire them to join in and make FAU’s College of Medicine tuition-free. The world has ‘Doctors without Borders’ – we need ‘Doctors without Debt.’”
This marks the third gift to FAU’s College of Medicine from the Wood family. Their previous gift in 2021 established the Robert A. Wood FAU Medical Scholars Fund and was created to support 10 medical students through all four years of medical school. In 2022, they increased their impact, providing scholarship support to 20 additional students for a total of 30 medical students. Today’s gift continues to expand on that initial commitment.
“More than 60 years ago, Florida Atlantic was founded on the principle that higher education should be available to all who sought it,” said FAU President John Kelly. “This extraordinary gift from Ann and John Wood will enhance the University’s ability to attract and retain outstanding medical students from an array of backgrounds, and support them on their journey to become knowledgeable and caring physicians.”
John and Ann Wood relocated to Boca Raton in 1983 having spent 18 years in the prestressed concrete business, building bridges, piers and cruise ship terminals throughout the Caribbean. They continued to operate the firm from Boca Raton until its sale in 2005. John is a U.S. Navy veteran and an engineering graduate of NYU, while Ann was a British citizen, raised in Trinidad and medically trained in London, England.
“This gift starts our initiative toward debt-free tuition, which is only available in a handful of medical schools across the country. I am hopeful that this transformational gift will inspire others to follow in the path forged by Ann and John Wood, to support doctors of our community, for our community,” said Julie G. Pilitsis, M.D., Ph.D., dean and vice president of medical affairs of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “Their generosity will help FAU College of Medicine make great strides in improving the delivery of and access to healthcare in South Florida by attracting the best and the brightest.”
FAU’s College of Medicine has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. The college’s humanistic, high-touch, high-tech curriculum, coupled with its partnership with three independent health systems in Palm Beach County, offers students and patients a unique experience. The College of Medicine’s programs are designed to bring the highest quality care to the surrounding community, including underserved populations. As such, the college was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report No. 61 for “Most Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas;” and No. 85 for “Most Graduates Practicing in Rural Areas.”
“FAU is grateful for the phenomenal generosity displayed by Ann and John Wood in honor of their son,” said Chris Delisio, vice president of institutional advancement and CEO of the FAU Foundation, Inc. “This historic gift means that the Wood name will forever be synonymous with breaking down the financial barriers that impede bright minds and compassionate hearts from pursuing their dream of becoming a doctor. We remain grateful to the Schmidt Family Foundation for their vision and initial gift to the College, building the foundation and creating the framework for what is now a thriving medical school.”