Spotlight on LIU

Spotlight on LIU

Heilbrunn Family Legacy

Generous Gift to LIU Brooklyn Nursing Program is Latest in Long Legacy of Support for Health Care Education


The Heilbrunn family’s connection to Long Island University stretches over eight decades. In that time, they have continually responded to the critical health care needs of New York City and invested in Long Island University in a number of important and impactful ways. Through their most recent investment, a $10 million gift to support LIU Brooklyn’s nursing program, the Heilbrunn family will significantly transform nursing and health care education for generations of students.

This gift, made possible by Helaine Lerner and Joan Rechnitz, daughters of Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn (B.A. ’32), is the largest in the program’s history. It will fund a state-of-the-art facility that will double the footprint of LIU Brooklyn’s new Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn School of Nursing, featuring several advanced simulation rooms and training centers to give students hands-on training in realistic environments.

In addition to its physical transformation, this level of support will enrich the student experience by expanding programs, providing ongoing scholarship opportunities for promising students, and increasing the number of students LIU supports.

Giving rise to a grander vision for LIU Brooklyn’s nursing education, Dr. Judith Erickson was appointed dean of The Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn School of Nursing in July. Dr. Erickson is a bold and innovative pioneer in health care education, and brings a proven record of integrating nursing education with the practice of care, giving her a unique perspective on how to optimally prepare nursing students with the proficiency and experience necessary to excel in contemporary health care settings.

“The Heilbrunn family’s leadership in this arena will have an enduring impact by providing our talented students with the resources needed to keep current with the demands of this ever-changing industry,” said Dr. Erickson. “This gift empowers the university to further its standing as a national leader in nursing education and will support advancements in one of the most dynamic health care environments in the nation.”

LIU’s relationship with the Heilbrunn family began when Harriet Rothkopf attended LIU Brooklyn in the late 1920s. Majoring in French and German, Rothkopf was a standout athlete, named “best woman athlete” for her participation in basketball and swimming, and served as president to her sorority, Iota Alpha Pi. After graduating in 1932, she met Robert Heilbrunn and the couple married two years later.

Together, they maintained their relationship with LIU by establishing the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Scholarship in 1988.They have also endowed the Heilbrunn Urban Teaching Scholars Program, and The Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn Academic Nursing Center. In 1997, Mr. Heilbrunn became officially connected to the university when he received the designation of honorary member of the LIU Brooklyn Class of 1932. The Heilbrunns were each awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 1997 Commencement, and honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters in 1998.