Our Washington: serving students

Longtime WUSTL donor Michael Kass, MD, established scholarship fund to ease medical school burden

The Kass Family Scholarship, established by Michael Kass, MD, and his wife Charlene Kass, provides more than money to Washington University School of Medicine students. It offers options.

“Debt should not be a factor in determining your future,” Kass said. “I want students to pursue what matters most to them, not what will pay off their debts fastest.”

A leading expert in glaucoma, Kass is the Bernard Becker Professor and former head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine. He came here as a resident in 1969 and, after two years at Yale University, returned in 1975 to join the Washington University faculty. He has been a donor for many years since. So has Charlene Kass, who received both her undergraduate and law degrees from Washington University.

Kass said he donates to help students, but also to advance medicine. After all, the most important work isn’t always the most lucrative.

‘When I hear about the enormous amounts of debt some students have, I worry that this could distort their future careers,” Kass said. “That is a bad thing for young doctors and medicine. And it’s a bad thing for society.”

Kass encourages others to contribute to Our Washington, Together We Make a Difference, the faculty and staff component of Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University. Donations will fund scholarships, support academic and scientific initiatives, endow professorships, build new facilities and strengthen departments across the Danforth and Medical campuses. Employees can give to the school or program of their choice online or through a payroll deduction.

“Washington University has done a lot to help students afford their education,” Kass said. “But it would be wonderful if we had enough people to join with us to make a real dent in this problem.”