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Skillman Library received a gift of $150,000 from the estate of Robert B. Heilman to establish an endowment for the purchase of books in the humanities. Heilman died in California on Aug. 5 at the age of 98. He was Lafayette’s fourth oldest living alumnus.

Born in Philadelphia in 1906, Heilman grew up in Elizabethville and Easton. He graduated as class valedictorian from Lafayette in 1927 and received his Ph.D. in English from Harvard University in 1935. Heilman taught at Ohio University and the University of Maine before accepting a position at Louisiana State University in 1935. While there, he developed relationships with many prominent southern writers and critics associated with the New Criticism movement. In 1948, Heilman joined the University of Washington faculty, where he served as chair of the English department for over two decades. Under his leadership, the department grew in national stature, attracting high-profile faculty and visiting scholars.

Heilman’s academic interests included eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English and American literature, as well as William Shakespeare. He authored 14 books and edited 12 others, the last of which was published in 1999. During his distinguished career, he received five honorary degrees, two Guggenheim fellowships, and one fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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