Historical faculty portraits adorn the walls of the Medical Education Center (MEC) Blanche and Albert Willner, M.D. '43 Atrium Lobby. These portraits depict some of the key figures who played leading roles in the formative years of the College (then known as the New York Homeopathic Medical College). Reflecting the College’s second home at New York Ophthalmic Hospital (1872-1889), several of these portraits depict members of the ophthalmology faculty. All of these figures were highly regarded in their day and most were well published with many of their important texts still published in re-print form today.
The procurement, restoration and display of these portraits is the culmination of 35 years of work. Most of the College’s large portrait collection had been left at Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospital (now Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center) when NYMC moved to Valhalla in the 1970s. The majority of these portraits were discovered and returned to the College through the efforts of Jay Tartell, M.D. ’82, when he was a medical student. A second smaller group of portraits and historic artifacts remaining at Cardinal Cooke were recovered by Dr. Tartell and Edward C. Halperin, M.D., chancellor and chief executive officer in 2013. Recently, several important portraits and their frames were professionally restored with funds from the NYMC Alumni Association and Dr. Tartell.
The College’s 19th century faculty portraits are closely grouped on walls of the MEC lobby in a period-appropriate “salon style.” This style of displaying artworks came into vogue in the 19th century as a way of conveying the size and importance of many large private and public art collections of the times. Large museums, including the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as private art salons in the mansions of wealthy collectors such as the Vanderbilt family, densely displayed paintings to the ceiling in keeping with the opulence which was a hallmark of the Gilded Age.
Read more about these faculty portraits on the Health Sciences Library website.
Timothy Field Allen, A.M., M.D., LL.D., 1837-1902
Frank Hopkins Boynton, M.D., 1850-1913
Walter Gray Crump, M.D., 1869-1945
William Tod Helmuth, M.D., LL.D, 1833-1902
George S. Norton, M.D., 1851-1891
George Watson Roberts, Ph.B., M.D., 1866-1931
About Albert Willner, M.D. ’43
Albert Willner, M.D. ’43 (1918–2011), was an alumnus and former College trustee. From the day he became a physician, Dr. Willner ardently believed he owed a debt of gratitude to New York Medical College for giving him the education he needed to succeed. Throughout his entire career he worked tirelessly to repay that debt—even donating the first paycheck he earned as a physician to the College. He was active in the Alumni Association for more than four decades, joined the Board of Trustees in 1996, and was a member of the President’s National Advisory Council.
Dr. Willner and his wife Blanche were generous supporters of the medical student scholarship program, often responding to needs they learned about on their visits to campus by underwriting various campus facilities and structures. In the late 1990s Dr. Willner and his family donated funds to build a playground in student housing, and later funded the renovation and construction of the atrium lobby of the Medical Education Center (MEC) which is named after the couple in honor of their longtime patronage and dedication.
In 2006, the College awarded Dr. Willner the William Cullen Bryant medal, in recognition for his distinguished and wide-ranging leadership. He once said, “I hope that those students who are part of the College today will not take the value of [their education] for granted, and will help in their own way when they become leaders in medicine.”
One of three children born to parents who left Poland and came to the U.S. in the 1890s, Albert Willner was one of several “Dr. Willners” in his family: his uncle Irving (who graduated from New York Medical College in 1913), his brothers Philip and Milton, and Albert himself, who met his wife, Blanche, on a commuter train while attending New York University as an undergraduate. Their two children became doctors, and so did several grandchildren, a nephew and a grandnephew—all told, about one out of three were New York Medical College graduates.
Albert Willner, M.D. ’43 died on November 16, 2011, at the age of 93. He was predeceased by his wife Blanche, and is survived by his son, Dr. Joseph Willner, daughter Dr. Jane Bloomgarden, and numerous nieces, nephews and grandchildren, including Noah Bloomgarden, M.D. ’10.