By Jill Leavey
Assistant news editor
Hofstra officially renamed the medical school formerly known as Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine to Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The announcement came after the building’s new namesakes, Donald and Barbara Zucker, recently made several donations amounting to $61 million in contributions.
This is not the Zuckers’ first philanthropic endeavor in the medical community. The couple are benefactors and trustees to a slew of other projects benefitting future and current doctors, including the Zucker Hillside Hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital and the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine. Zucker also co-founded the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders in Manhasset, New York. “The Zuckers have a great interest in advancing education and innovation in medicine. They have been longtime supporters of health care initiatives across the region, in particular those connected to Northwell Health, which is Hofstra’s partner in the Zucker School of Medicine,” said Karla Schuster, the assistant vice president of University Relations.
Opening in only 2011, the young school is home to approximately 400 students currently enrolled in the medical program. “From the inception, the medical school has been close to our hearts,” Zucker said. “We feel it is incumbent on us to help young people achieve their dreams to be a physician. We, who have been so fortunate together, love doing this.”
Despite only being in existence for a short period of time, the school’s success is evident in its most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings. Presently, it is listed as No. 71 in the category of research, as well as being No. 55 in primary care. “Almost a decade ago, we set out to create a new model of medical education that would improve health care in our region and today we mark another milestone in that journey,” President Stuart Rabinowitz said.
Of the $61 million, $50 million will endow a permanent, need-based scholarship for students in the Zucker School of Medicine. This will help reduce the hefty cost of attendance, which is listed as $80,844 for the 2017-2018 academic year. “Raising money for scholarships and programs is among our highest priorities, and we have an entire office dedicated to this effort, reaching out to alumni, friends and foundations to ensure that we offer students the very best resources and academic programs,” Schuster said.
Ten million dollars will also be set aside specifically to endow the newly formed Barbara Hrbek Zucker Emerging Scientists Program, which will be housed under the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. The institute is another Northwell initiative developed to help educate postdoctoral fellows and fund future research programs. “As former chair of the Feinstein Institute, I see the value of this program in supporting young investigators and postdoctoral candidates, making the Feinstein a destination for the nation’s top talent,” Barbara Zucker said.
The final $1 million dollars will go toward providing additional need-based scholarships for students in the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. “I cannot wait to see the effects of the multimillion dollar donation, especially because it’s mostly impacting students. The potential of what this money can do is outstanding, the future for Hofstra med is shining bright,” said Tara Sheipps, a sophomore physician assistant studies major.
The costs associated with entering the healthcare field can often deter even the brightest of future physicians from pursuing their goals. Donations like the Zuckers’ can help to ensure that an education in medicine is accessible to everyone.
Dr. Lawrence G. Smith, the dean of the school and physician-in-chief at Northwell Health, said, “Their generosity will ensure that our medical school will continue to be represented by a highly diverse, talented student body that reflects the communities we serve throughout the New York metropolitan area.”