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A Family Affair

The medical school’s policy of matching donations makes generosity the rule

Halfway through his first semester at Tufts, Sherwood “Woody” Baxt, A62, J94P, earned three Ds and an F on his midterms, and his three roommates flunked out.

“I’m not sure I slept one night the rest of the semester,” he says, “but I was on the dean’s list by the end of the year.” Asked how he turned things around, Baxt says simply, “I learned to work.”

Baxt continued to work hard to achieve his goals. To earn money for medical school after Tufts, he did construction on the 693-foot-tall Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Now a successful plastic surgeon, he has joined his wife, Saida, in establishing The Baxt Family Scholarship to help Tufts students in the School of Arts and Sciences. Tufts is matching the gift as part of its Financial Aid Initiative.

Baxt and his wife, a dermatologist, met when both were studying medicine at New York University School of Medicine. The two raised a family of doctors and now share a practice with their dermatologist daughter, Rebecca, who is married to an internist. Their other daughter, clinical psychologist Chiara Gelfand, J94, married her Tufts sweetheart, Joel Gelfand, A93, an associate professor of dermatology at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to medicine, Baxt and his wife love animals and have established a dairy farm in New York and an equestrian development in South Carolina. Self-described “dog people,” they have a standard poodle named Leo.

The couple has established their endowed scholarship fund with an initial gift from an IRA charitable rollover and will add to the fund through a multiyear pledge and a bequest in Baxt’s will. The scholarship they’re creating will help others experience the life-transforming potential of an education at Tufts. “I’m still close to many of the friends I made there,” Baxt says. “I’m eager to be in contact with the students who attend Tufts on this scholarship and see how their careers progress.”

He also hopes the scholarship will carry on his family’s spirit of philanthropy. “We are encouraging our kids to add to this fund,” he says, “and hope our grandchildren will grow up wanting to help others as well.”

As part of an initiative to increase financial aid, Tufts is offering to match qualifying gifts of $100,000 or more to endowed scholarships, doubling the impact of these gifts. For more information, please contact Jeff Winey, director of principal and leadership gifts, at 617-627-5468 or jeff.winey@tufts.edu.