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Hofstra Northwell Health med school renamed after $61M donation

Real estate developer Donald Zucker and his wife,

Real estate developer Donald Zucker and his wife, Barbara, attend a Wildlife Conservation Society event at Central Park Zoo in Manhattan on June 11, 2015. Credit: Patrick McMullan

The medical school founded by Hofstra University and Northwell Health has been renamed for Manhattan real estate developer Donald Zucker and his wife, Barbara, whose foundation has donated $61 million to support the school, officials announced Wednesday.

The bulk of the Zuckers’ donation — $50 million — creates a permanent endowment to be used exclusively to provide scholarships to students in the newly named Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

Another $10 million will create and endow the Barbara Hrbek Zucker Emerging Scientists Program at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research to help prepare postdoctoral fellows and to “identify, promote and nurture” early career faculty to develop research programs. The Feinstein Institute, headquartered in Manhasset, is the research branch of Northwell Health.

The remaining $1 million will provide scholarship support for students at the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies.

“More so than any other donors in our history, Don and Barbara Zucker have been extraordinary supporters of causes where we have historically struggled to get financial support, including behavioral health programs,” Northwell Health president and chief executive Michael J. Dowling said in a statement. “Their latest gifts are a testament to the Zuckers’ leadership as philanthropists who recognize the vital role of medical education and research in transforming the future of medicine.”

Donald Zucker, 86, of Sands Point, is founder of the Donald Zucker Company, a Midtown-based firm that builds, buys and manages apartment and retail properties. The company, which started as a mortgage brokerage in 1961, has since developed nearly 30 buildings — a mix of rental, condo, co-op and retail — and acquired roughly 3,000 additional apartments, according to a 2016 profile in The Real Deal, an industry publication.

The Zuckers were not available for comment on Wednesday.

Hofstra and Northwell launched the joint medical school program in 2008, and the school’s first class of 40 students began in 2011.

“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,” Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz said in a statement. “The Zuckers’ support solidifies and expands our commitment to train innovative physicians whose backgrounds and experiences are as diverse as the people they treat.”

The med school’s current enrollment is 400. There were more than 6,000 applicants for 100 spots in 2016, university officials said. Tuition for the 2017-18 academic year is $50,940 for a first-year medical student, according to school’s website.

Dr. Lawrence Smith, dean of the medical school, said the income from the endowment created by the Zuckers will be used for need-based scholarships, at the couple’s request.

“Their interest is in helping students from families who don’t have the means to pay the entirety of medical school,” Smith said in an interview. “What it helps us to do is to say, ‘We don’t want you to turn us down because you do the calculation and think you can’t go to medical school.’ ”

Smith, a primary care physician, said the financial support also will prevent medical students from feeling they need to go into a particular area of medical practice because they are afraid of the debt burden after graduation. About 15 percent to 20 percent of the medical school’s students come from households that cannot afford to contribute financially to their education.

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