About the Heller School

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Timeline: A History of the Heller School


The Florence G. Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare is founded. It is Brandeis University’s first professional school, and the first school of its kind to bridge the gap between social welfare and social policy. Charles Schottland, first dean of The Heller School The school is established thanks to the generosity of Florence G. Heller, a community and national organization leader as well as a philanthropist.President Kennedy's panel of retardation She was the first woman president of the National Jewish Welfare Board and was instrumental in the establishment of the USO in 1941.

Charles I. Schottland, a member of General Eisenhower's staff in World War II and former Federal Commissioner on Social Security, is appointed as the first dean of the school.


A Heller faculty member serves as a consultant to Dr. Stafford L. Warren, President Kennedy’s special assistant on retardation.


A member of the Heller faculty is invited by the United States Children’s Bureau to undertake the first nationwide epidemiological study of child abuse.


A Heller faculty member serves on President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Aging.

Dr. Robert Binstock

Heller faculty member Robert Binstock (at right) serves as Executive Director of a White House Task Force on Older Americans for President Lyndon Johnson.

Heller faculty member Robert Morris is appointed President of the Gerontological Society of America.

Gunnar Dybwad1970

Deinstitutionalization of large mental retardation facilities begins. Heller faculty member Gunnar Dybwad (at right) serves as an expert witness in a number of class action suits on public facilities for individuals with mental retardation.


Dr. Arnold Gurin, second dean of The Heller School

Professor Arnold Gurin (at left), was named to the Maurice B. Hexter Chair in American Philanthropy and was appointed as the second dean of the Heller School.

Heller faculty member Gunnar Dybwad serves as the lead expert witness in a landmark class action lawsuit in Pennsylvania that results in the right to education for children with disabilities.


Heller faculty and graduate students conduct a landmark, federally-funded national follow-up study of persons with mental retardation who were released from state institutions.


Robert Binstock is appointed President of the Gerontological Society of America.


Dr. Stuart Altman, former Heller deanHeller adds a Master of Management in Human Services. This is the first program of its kind in a school of social welfare.

Heller hosts the University Health Policy Consortium, the largest research grant ever awarded by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Consortium is named the first Center for Health Policy Analysis by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).

Healthcare economist and presidential adviser Stuart Altman (left) is appointed as dean of the Heller School.


The Institute for Health Policy (now the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy) is established.


Heller is selected to participate in President Jimmy Carter’s North-South Fellowship Program for professionals from developing countries to study public administration and policy.

HCFA selects Heller’s Institute for Health Policy to lead a consortium with Boston University and MIT as one of its two national health policy research centers.


Six of seventeen expert witnesses for United States Senate hearings on aging are Heller community members.


Heller faculty members publish a national study of programs serving elderly persons with mental retardation – the first national comprehensive study of residential and day services.

Heller faculty member James Schulz is appointed President of the Gerontological Society of America.


The Center for Human Resources (now the Center for Youth and Communities) is established.

Heller Dean Stuart Altman is selected as chair of the United States Prospective Payment Assessment Commission to oversee the Medicare payment policy to hospitals.


The United States Congress enacts legislation to launch the Social Health Maintenance Organization (SHMO) demonstration project, developed by Heller faculty, as the model for managed care programs for the elderly and disabled.


The Nathan and Toby Starr Center for Mental Retardation (now the Nathan and Toby Starr Center on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) is established.


Heller faculty members conduct research, “Support Services in Senior Housing,” that leads federal policy makers to enact the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990 and later authorization on Department of Housing and Urban Development funding for service coordinators.


The Family and Child Policy Center (now the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy) is established.

Fernando Torres-Gil and Jean TakamuraIn recognition of the growing policy challenges posed by the rapidly increasing elderly population, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishes the position of Assistant Secretary of Aging. Alumnus Fernando Torres-Gil, PhD '76, is confirmed by Congress as the first appointment to this post. The second individual to be appointed Assistant Secretary of Aging is Heller alumna Jeanette Takamura, PhD '85, now Dean and Professor of the Columbia University School of Social Work.


Heller Dean Stuart Altman is named to President Bill Clinton’s Health Policy Transition Team.


Dr. Jack Shonkoff, MD, fourth dean of The Heller School Jack Shonkoff, MD, (at left) is named Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and appointed dean of the Heller School.

Heller is ranked among the top ten U.S. schools of social policy by U.S. News and World Report.


The National Policy Center on Women and Aging is established.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse awards the Heller School $5.5 million to form the Brandeis/Harvard Research Center on Managed Care and Drug Abuse Treatment to examine the effects of managed care on the organization, delivery, and financing of drug and alcohol abuse treatment services.


Heller Dean Jack Shonkoff is appointed chair of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


Heller publishes the first issue of its magazine for alumni, Heller Alumni News and Views.

1998The Dalai Lama visits the Heller School

Heller adds the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and incorporates the Brandeis graduate program in Sustainable International Development.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visits to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis and speaks of the plight of the Tibetan people to Heller students and the public. The Coexistence Fellowship to fund Tibetan and Chinese students in Heller's Sustainable International Development program is created in his honor.

President Clinton appoints Stuart Altman to the National Bi-Partisan Commission on the Future of the Medicare Program.

Dr. Laurence Simon 1999

Heller faculty member Laurence Simon convenes an international group of scholars and practitioners for a follow-up roundtable symposium on sustainable development strategies for Tibet in a historic, “first of its kind” event.


The Asset Development Institute (now the Institute on Assets and Social Policy) is established.


The Florence G. Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare changes its name to the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, to reflect the current degree programs in social policy and management.


Heller’s ranking by U.S. News and World Report moves up to number three.


Stuart Altman is again appointed dean.

2006 The Schneider Building nearing completion

The Irving Schneider and Family Building is constructed to double the size of the Heller School's physical plant.

The Institute for Behavioral Health is established.


Former President Bill Clinton

Renovation is completed on the Heller-Brown Building.

Robert '69 and Laura Sillerman endow the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at the Heller School.

(At left) The Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program is launched with an inaugural lecture by former President Bill Clinton.

Nancy Lurie Marks endows a Chair in Disability Policy and provides funding for the establishment of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy.

Dr. Lisa Lynch, dean of the Heller School Heller 50th anniversary logo 2008

Lisa M. Lynch is appointed dean of the Heller School.


Heller celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a weekend conference attracting students, alumni, faculty, staff and old friends, proving it is still Young at Heart.

Dean Lisa Lynch chairs the Conference of Chairmen for the Federal Reserve System as well as serving as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.


The Institute for Global Health and Development is founded within the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy.

The Slifka Foundation provides a gift that inaugurates a sixth degree program at Heller, the Master's in Coexistence and Conflict (now the Master's in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence), and establishes a new chair in Coexistence and Conflict.

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy issues the first of its reports on the racial wealth gap.


Peace Corps LogoThe Heller School celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps with a panel discussion featuring Heller alumni and current students. Heller is among the top schools of choice for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

James J. Callahan, Jr.Lorraine Vogel KlermanThe Heller School presents "Social Policy across the Lifespan," a memorial conference in tribute to the careers of Heller faculty members James J. Callahan, Jr., PhD '68, and Lorraine Vogel Klerman. Experts in child and family welfare, mental health, and aging discuss current issues in these fields, to which Callahan and Klerman contributed so much.

The Relational Coordination Research Collaborative is established, under the leadership of executive director Jody Hoffer Gittell.


Professor Laurence Simon, founder of Heller's Graduate Programs in Sustainable International Development, is honored for his 40 years in the field of world development with a symposium entitled "Paths to Compassionate Action and Service."

Heller signs Memoranda of Understanding with the University for Development Studies in Ghana and Beijing Normal University School of Social Development and Public Policy.

Stuart Altman is named chair of the board of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission.


A.K. Nandakumar is appointed chief economist for global health in the Office of Health Systems, Bureau for Global Health, at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Anita Hill film poster"Anita," the documentary about Anita Hill's testimony at the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.

Heller's Executive Education Program partners with Maine's statewide Physician Executive Leadership Institute with the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership to educate 200 Maine doctors over five years.

Dean Lisa Lynch is elected President of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA).


diversitydatakids.org logoThe Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy launches diversitydatakids.org, a unique information source offering hundreds of measures of child wellbeing and policy analysis that document diversity, opportunity and equity among US children.

The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy inaugurates the Ruderman Social Justice in Disability Scholars Program, which supports and trains Brandeis undergraduates to become future leaders in disability-related fields.

Thomas ShapiroThomas Shapiro (left) receives the Asset Builder Champion Award as part of the 2014 Color of Wealth Summit, which is organized in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian American Caucus.

Marty Wyngaarden Krauss

Stuart Altman is the 2014 recipient of the William B. Graham Prize for Health Services Research.

Heller celebrates its 55th Anniversary with a gala weekend, featuring a keynote address by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Dean Lisa Lynch is appointed Provost of Brandeis University. Professor Emerita Marty Wyngaarden Krauss, PhD'81, (at right) is named Interim Dean of the Heller School.

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