Campus Communications

July 9, 2020

Dear Lehman Colleagues:

I trust you remain well, and that your summer, unusual though it is, still feels like a season for some relaxation and respite. For the campus staff and administrators, the summer's three-day weekends have been welcome. Despite the season there is much happening at Lehman and I want to update you on a number of recent campus developments.

Student Exchange and Visitor Program

A question that is on many minds is the status of, and the potential impacts of, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's modifications to the rules governing the Student Exchange and Visitor Program that were announced last week.

I echo CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez's statement earlier this week condemning the federal rule change that could potentially impact close to one hundred international students at Lehman College, and thousands more throughout the CUNY system. Modifications to the rules governing the program require students who are in the US on an F-1 visa to take at least one in-person course – an outrageous and senseless shift in policy, given the likelihood of most higher education in the US taking place online for the foreseeable future. Hundreds of thousands of students across the US are affected.

Harvard and MIT have sued the US government over these new regulations, and that suit is joined by key organizations of which Lehman College is a part, including the American Council on Education. There will be other legal actions from other states, including requests for injunctions against the implementation of these rules. It is our hope that these legal challenges will prevail.

Lehman College unequivocally supports every individual in our community, regardless of their immigration status or country of origin, and we will continue to do so. We will work closely with the Chancellor as his administration pursues measures to help the international students, who are a vital and vibrant part of our community, to continue their educations online and mitigate any adverse impact the rule changes may have on their education and their ability to remain in this country.

Fall Term 2020

You may know that yesterday evening the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York approved a resolution giving CUNY the flexibility it needs to plan for a successful fall semester, contingent upon the changing pattern of the pandemic. That will mean delivering the large majority of courses offered throughout the system using an online mode of delivery. Certain courses that are considered highly experiential, such as labs or clinical studies, and support services such as food pantries, will be offered in person. The Board also voted to conditionally extend this arrangement to Spring 2021.

This decision aligns with our long-standing intent to effectively manage the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with our top priority being to keep the students, faculty and staff safe and healthy, as we maintain academic progress. The most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to keep campus occupancy as low as possible. Maximizing online instruction serves that purpose.

We have been preparing for a largely online fall semester since the spring. Approximately 90 percent of our fall course offerings will be delivered online. We continue to distribute laptops to students who need them, and we have an ample supply to ensure that all students are prepared to take online courses in the fall. For the approximately 10 percent of courses that will be offered in person, classes will be significantly smaller and will be arranged with adequate ventilation, physical spacing, and face masks; together these precautions will make viral transmission highly unlikely.

Fiscal Year '21 Budget

As we have planned for the coming academic year, we have grappled with a challenging and uncertain budget situation. Through the enormous efforts of the administration, deans, chairs and departments we have arrived at a preliminary budget that sees us through the fiscal year and leaves us in a reasonable position for the following fiscal year when budgets could be even more challenging. Over $2 million in OTPS spending has been eliminated, $4.5 million in vacant positions will remain open, and there is some reduction in Temp Services and Adjunct Faculty appointments. Together, these reductions have moved us closer, but not to, our budget target. Perhaps they will be sufficient, depending upon what the US Congress approves in the COVID-19 relief bill now being debated. We are unlikely to know for certain until late summer or the fall.

Some have argued that the non-reappointment of some adjunct faculty and part-time staff would not be necessary if the College utilized its fund balance or directed CARES Act funding to cover its budget reductions. These sound like great solutions, but unfortunately, they are not grounded in reality. First, as I have discussed on numerous occasions, the fund balance we have is already earmarked for upcoming, unavoidable expenses in the next two to three fiscal years. It is fully accounted for, and sizeable as it is, will not alone be sufficient to keep the College's budget balanced in the coming years.

Second, legally, CARES Act funding must be used for specific COVID-19-related expenses, not the appointment of part-time faculty. We already know that our costs of moving to distance education and compensating for losses during the spring, summer and fall terms will exceed the funding that will be available to Lehman. Fortunately, the CARES Act funding that directly supports students--nearly $7 million—and other ways it supports the College with COVID-19 costs, has the indirect effect of enabling more students to enroll, and thus results in more adjunct faculty members being reappointed to teach those students.

For the small number of adjunct faculty members who have not been reappointed for the fall, there are a number of possible reasons: more teaching by full-time faculty members due to a return of a record number of full-time faculty members from fellowship leaves, hiring of new full-time faculty members (17), and rearranging how some courses are delivered; under-enrolled courses; and in a few cases, performance issues. These decisions were the most difficult of all, but because of the extraordinary times in which we are operating, they were critical for the College's short- and long-term viability. Despite concerns that have been expressed, as best we can determine, none of Lehman's adjunct faculty members who were not reappointed will lose the health benefits they had via their CUNY employment. Thank you to the department chairs who worked so hard to accomplish this.

Response to Issues of Race, Racism and Equity

On another major front, Lehman is fully engaged in the critical issues of race, racism, and inequality that have been so glaringly apparent during the pandemic, and in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and many others. We see these issues across our country and around the world, but we also recognize that we must look at ourselves and identify where we need to make changes. Over the past academic year we had already begun to examine curricula, personnel practices and other aspects of our life as a college where we need to recognize our shortcomings in promoting equity and inclusion along the numerous axes, including race, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, age and others. Students have been key contributors to this discussion, and whole departments are actively examining their programs and practice. I have just established a Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate and Inclusion that will meet for the first time next week and will work through the fall to recommend specific steps to accelerate these efforts. Next week I will send out an announcement of the Task Force members and its charge.

Announcements

We are grappling with more major issues than I have ever experienced at one time, but in the midst of that, we have much to celebrate.

  • The faculty, staff and administration have together contributed nearly $70,000 for the support of students, and the Campaign for Lehman has so far raised nearly $1 million since the spring for that purpose. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to make this such a significant initiative. This is Lehman at its best!
  • Earlier in the spring, we shared with Excelencia in Education some of the ways Lehman College has been helping support and prepare Latinx students for success in college and in the workforce. Some of these have been included in a new report, TAPPING LATINO TALENT: How HSIs are Preparing Latino Students for the Workforce, that was released on Thursday. The report, in which Lehman is one of four colleges featured, is covered in Inside Higher Ed.
  • City Councilmember Andrew Cohen has secured a capital funding request in the amount of $1.4 million to help us construct a new Teaching and Learning Commons that will serve as a Center for Innovation in Research and Pedagogy for staff, faculty and students, and which will also allow continued construction on the School of Social Work space. It was unusual for any senior CUNY college to receive City Council capital funding for the new fiscal year.

There have been no easy solutions throughout the pandemic, the budget process and the equity crisis we have faced, but we have been guided by our determination to keep our campus community safe, to uphold our stellar academic programs, and to continue to serve as a catalytic anchor institution for our community and borough. I believe we have made sound choices in a difficult, ambiguous environment, and I know we will emerge from this time of upheaval a better and more resilient campus community. It is a terrible time, but it is also a time with great promise. We are Lehman Strong!


Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
@LehmanPresident

May 18, 2020

Dear Lehman Campus Community:

You may have learned that on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo extended New York on PAUSE until May 28 for New York City and other regions of New York State that have not met all seven criteria to begin Phase 1 of re-opening, as detailed on the Regional Monitoring Dashboard. As of this writing, New York City has met just three of the metrics to begin re-opening. Because of the two-week extension, the College will maintain the same level of access it has had since April.

While we are not yet ready to talk about a specific date or timeline for re-opening, and that is the Governor's decision, we are beginning to plan for what re-opening our campus could look like. Vice President Rene Rotolo has convened a weekly task force that is charged with making preparations in advance of a re-opening date. In addition, we are working in coordination with the CUNY COVD-19 Response Task Force that is preparing university-wide re-opening recommendations for the Chancellor. At Lehman, our discussions about what we want to achieve when we re-open has included outlining a number of goals in order of priority.

  • Creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment to protect the safety and well-being of all campus stakeholders anwuesd their families
  • Continuing the efficacy of Lehman College as an engine of social mobility for current and prospective students by providing optimal access to services and instruction under the circumstances
  • Emerging as a stronger and improved institution 
  • Playing a major role in the rebuilding of the Bronx 

We will continue preparing as we await further decisions by the Governor and the Chancellor. As much as we all want to resume routines that include in-person activities and a version of campus life that we are more familiar with, we also fully support the actions that have produced the progress made so far to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for the way you have made major accommodations in the past two months. You will be hearing more about this from me in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


May 15, 2020

Dear Lehman College Class of 2020 Graduate,

We have been considering ways to best commemorate your remarkable achievement during an extraordinary time. Since we cannot be together on campus, we are planning two virtual ceremonies to celebrate this wonderful milestone for you and your loved ones.

For all graduates, we are hosting a Virtual Recognition Ceremony for all on Thursday, May 28th at 11 a.m. on the College’s website, and on the College’s Facebook channel @LehmanCUNY via Facebook Live. It also will be broadcast on BronxNet. Together, we will commemorate the completion of your degree. I am looking forward to being with you on that great day.

For students graduating with honors, the College’s 12th annual Academic Honors Celebration will recognize your achievement on Tuesday, May 26th at 3 p.m., also livestreamed on the College website homepage, at lehman.edu/Classof2020Honors, on the College’s Facebook page via Facebook Live. It also will be broadcast on BronxNet.

While you may choose how to view these events, viewing via Facebook Live will enable you to leave comments and add reaction during the ceremonies, post photos, and contribute to an interactive experience. If, when you post to social media leading up to or during the ceremony, it would be great if you would use the following hashtags: #lehmancollege2020, #lehmanstrong, or #lehmanhonors2020.

These events will feature remarks from college leaders and graduates, recognition of each graduate of the Class of 2020 and video messages from special guests.

While I am very much looking forward to celebrating with you, I know this has been an extraordinarily difficult semester, and we all are disappointed that we cannot commemorate these milestones in person, on our beautiful campus.  Although these virtual celebrations are not optimal, please know that every member of our community recognizes the hard work and sacrifice you have made to get you where you will be on May 28, 2020 – a graduate of Lehman College.

I hope you and your loved ones will take part in these events and share the pride I have for each and every one of you.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


May 7, 2020

Dear Lehman Community,

As you probably know from news reports, New York State's budget is in crisis. All of the colleges in the CUNY and SUNY systems are preparing for substantial budget reductions. The below document includes a recap of our current situation as well as a description of the decision making process moving forward and the values that will drive these difficult decisions. This document has been shared with senior administrative and academic leadership and reflects their thoughts as well as my own.

Values and Process Guiding Budget Discussions and Decisions for FY21


The State adopted the Fiscal Year 21, FY21, budget on April 3, and CUNY received a "flat" budget with only $50 million added over the previous year to cover increased fringe benefit costs. Coming as it did in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and a faltering state and national economy, the budget bill included three dates, April 30, June 30 and December 31, when the state budget director can unilaterally modify the budget, based on projections of state revenues. The week prior to April 30 the state budget director issued revised revenue projections showing a $13.3 billion FY21 shortfall. By mid-May that will be reflected in a revised budget in which he estimates there will be $3.2 billion in savings identified, and a $10.1 billion reduction in the budgets of state agencies. CUNY and SUNY are among these state agencies. That would amount to a $10.6 million reduction in our revenue from the State. 

Anticipating mid-year budget reductions, Chancellor Matos Rodríguez established a Fiscal Scenarios Group to create the most realistic estimates about how the CUNY budget could be impacted by the state's finances. He issued a memo on April 27 in which he laid out four immediate actions including an immediate hiring freeze. While we work within the CUNY budgeting framework, due to long-standing financial prudence and recently strong enrollment growth, we have built a fund balance of $10-12 million coming into FY21. That puts us in a better position, but does not eliminate our need to revise our FY21 budget projections to accommodate the almost certain state budget reductions. Furthermore, we have already budgeted the current fund balance to cover the increasing costs from the new CBA in the next three years, and those costs will become much greater in FY22.

We began our budget process in mid-April and have an established timeline for finalizing budget allocations by June 15. This process is led by the Cabinet with periodic consultations with the Senate Budget Committee. Given the unprecedented financial challenges in this budget cycle, this process will require many difficult decisions. In order to make those decisions in a way that secures the present and future financial position of the College and, most importantly, advances our mission, we began by re-affirming the process we will use and values that will guide us. These are the basis for all of our decisions and we will regularly refer to them as we address the many details in the budget process.

Process:

  • We will make strategic, rather than across-the-board budget adjustments, in order to ensure that we strengthen our overall position as a college.
  • We will employ both short- and long-term thinking, maintaining a viable FY21 financial position while at the same time making investments that further our mission, minding the overall sustainability of decisions.
  • We will continue our sense of community on campus, engaging the key stakeholders, honoring shared governance, and enabling clear understanding through regular communication.

Values:

  • The safety, health and well-being of students, staff, faculty, and other key community stakeholders must be guarded.
  • We must preserve the integrity and quality of our educational programs, sustaining and promoting excellence in teaching, as we support the scholarship, research, and creative work of our faculty.
  • The needs of students are primary, and we must continue to provide educational opportunity and the range of support that ensures their timely graduation and career-readiness, so we continue to be a leading engine of social mobility, and achieve the 90X30 challenge.
  • We will expand our unique role as a catalytic anchor institution in the Borough, providing intellectual leadership as we work with major organizations like Montefiore and BronxCare, non-profits like the NY Botanical Garden, P-12 schools, elected officials, and local businesses.

Daniel Lemons
President


April 24, 2020

Dear Lehman Colleagues:

You may have learned that Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez sent a memo to all CUNY college presidents this week. In that memo, he outlined CUNY's developing response to the approved New York State budget, as well as the growing state and city revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19. Everyone knows that the entire nation is in an economic free fall at the moment. What we don't know is whether we are attached to a bungee cord and poised for a rapid return to "normal," or whether we will have to laboriously climb back to where we were before COVID-19 hit.

At the beginning of the budget season, New York State faced a $6 billion shortfall due to Medicaid costs. CUNY asked the state for an additional $136 million beyond fiscal year 2019-2020, or FY20, to cover the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), other mandatory costs, and new programmatic initiatives. We also pushed hard for funding to reduce or eliminate the TAP gap.

We are in a different world now, and the "flat" budget that became law on April 3rd added only $50 million for increased fringe benefit costs in the new CBA and other labor agreements. Coming as it did in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget that passed seemed better than we feared. But the budget bill included three dates, April 30, June 30 and December 31, when the state budget director can unilaterally modify the budget, based on actual state revenues. 

The state budget director had recently projected an eight percent reduction in FY21 revenue, but this morning the Governor projected a $13.3 billion revenue drop, which is 14 percent. These are estimates based on the current situation, and do not assume a federal stimulus package that would include payments to states. Governor Cuomo has requested at least $10 billion.

The CUNY Budget Framework

So how does this alter our financial planning at CUNY? While there will be a good deal of unanimity in the way all the CUNY colleges plan for FY21, each college also has its own financial situation that will impact the decisions it is able to make.

Two weeks ago, Chancellor Matos Rodríguez established a Fiscal Scenarios Group to create the most realistic estimates about how the CUNY budget could be impacted by the state's finances. Then, after he spoke with the college presidents, he issued the memo I referred to above. In it, he laid out four immediate actions:

  • CUNY is implementing a freeze on all personnel actions, including all hires and discretionary salary increases. Some exceptions that will be considered include health and safety positions and faculty searches in which an offer has already been made. Such cases will need to be presented to a CUNY Vacancy Review Committee that will be created in the coming days;
  • Per state and city regulations, the University must pause all active campus construction projects, with the exception of those that are COVID-19 related;
  • For the remainder of the fiscal year, colleges should refrain from any new one-time or recurring expenditures, with the exception of those that are related to COVID-19 or distance learning instruction; and,
  • Campuses should not be entering into any new long-term contractual obligations (new or renewals) until further notice and should consult with the Chief Financial Officer's Office for any exceptional situations.

The Lehman Budget Framework

While we work within the CUNY budgeting framework, Lehman is in a unique financial position among the colleges. Due to long-standing financial prudence and recently strong enrollment growth, we had built a substantial fund balance coming into the current fiscal year. For a more in-depth background you can refer to my financial overview last September.

In that communication I explained why even our very healthy fund balance would only keep us in the black for three more years. That projection has changed subsequent to the new CBA. Even without the COVID-19 crisis, we would be dealing with rising mandatory costs which have not been fully funded by the state.

The current fund balance of approximately $12 million does provide some of the cushion now that it was meant to, and gives us more latitude than we would have without it. However, any multi-year financial commitments made now will have to be carefully considered, knowing that we will face a budget shortfall sooner than we had previously projected, possibly as soon as next year. We need to avoid a scenario that sets us up for painful choices next year.

The Federal CARES Act allocated approximately $13.5 million for Lehman College. Half of that is going directly to students according to a set of need-based criteria developed at the CUNY central office. The other half will come to the campus to reimburse the College for COVID-19-related expenses. Those funds will help with, but will not likely cover all of, the costs we have had and will continue to have. In other words, they will not likely help with the overall budget challenge we are facing.

What Specifically Does This Mean Now?

    • There is a hiring freeze in effect. This includes offers already made, which always have a financial contingency clause. We will have our own campus process for evaluating all hiring that is in process, to determine if we are still able to complete them. If we find that we are, we will submit those to the CUNY Vacancy Review Committee for approval.

I believe that our own campus process is the most important, because we do not want to make any hires now that jeopardize our financial position. The pain that could cause would be much worse than the pain of not being able to make a hire now.

There has been a rush this week to submit paperwork for hires to Human Resources. All of these personnel actions will be held at HR until we have reached the point of planning where we are confident we know which hires we can follow through with. If you are part of the hiring process, please be sure to inform candidates of the process, which will probably take a few weeks or more to complete.

  • We have passed the deadline for submitting a requisition in this fiscal year, and all Other Than Personal Service (OTPS) accounts have been swept into the College's pool account. With a few exceptions for mandatory costs, only expenses related to COVID-19 and distance education will be encumbered for the remainder of this fiscal year.
  • We will not enter into new long-term contracts other than those absolutely required for purposes of compliance or safety.
  • Some campus construction projects will be allowed to proceed, but beginning new ones will depend upon state, city and CUNY approval.
  • We do not have a budget reduction target at the outset. There are variables that make this impossible at the moment. On April 30, the state budget director will announce his first revenue and budget revision. That will be a strong indication of what lies ahead.

What Will Happen Next?

At Lehman, we began a budget planning process two weeks ago. This week, I established a Cabinet Budget Planning Working Group, consisting of Provost and Senior Vice President Peter Nwosu, Vice President Rene Rotolo, Vice President Dawn Ewing-Morgan, Budget Director Bethania Ortega, and Chief of Staff Gladys Maldoon. This group is meeting multiple times each week and reports at the weekly Cabinet meetings. Its task is to pilot strategies and conversations for the Cabinet, which then are taken up by the Provost's and Dean's Council, the Senate Budget and Long-Range Planning Committee, and the wider campus community.

This coming week we will:

  • Establish the values and guidelines for our budget discussions and decision-making;
  • Establish a timeline for our budget process;
  • Revise our current base budget and worst-case budget scenarios, probably adding at least one additional scenario that includes lower enrollments in the fall;
  • Set up the process for making decisions;
  • Present the current budget scenarios and discuss budget saving ideas with the Senate Budget and Long-Range Planning Committee;
  • Learn on April 30 what the State budget director does with the currently-approved State budget.

In the following weeks we will:

  • Identify places where costs can be reduced in the coming year;
  • Identify where opportunities exist to bolster revenue through maintaining enrollment and other actions;
  • Move ahead with the work already begun on developing the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan;
  • Complete a draft FY21 budget that projects out three years – this will be presented to the College community;
  • Communicate frequently about progress.

We will sustain ourselves through the current budget situation, and emerge with strength afterward, to the degree that we plan early and well, and then execute our plans effectively. We will strive for maximum transparency as we proceed so all members of the campus community are well-informed about what is being considered, and the decisions being made. We will continue to work within an environment of strong and healthy shared governance.

Good News on Fundraising

We have been acutely aware of the extremely difficult circumstances of many students and part-time staff. Among faculty and staff, we have launched a Lehman Cares campaign to raise money to help. It has been amazingly successful, raising over $40,000 in just a few weeks. Simultaneously, we have also launched a $1 million Campaign for Lehman College, for the food bank, micro-grants, scholarships, emergencies and general operating funds for the coming year. This week we received word of a grant of $150,000 in direct student aid as a part of this campaign, which has raised over $300,000 so far. We have also reached out to our elected officials and local and regional organizations for support of our students and staff.

Obviously, we are entering an extremely challenging period of time. In my 30 years in CUNY, having experienced three major financial downturns, this is without a doubt the worst because of the risk the COVID-19 pandemic presents to our safety and health. Yet, I have complete confidence in our leadership team at Lehman, from the senior administration to the department chairs and unit directors. I also have confidence in our faculty and staff and their strong commitment to our mission and the students we serve.

I am confident that we will find our way from now to the post COVID-19 and post-financial downturn future, and that path will take us to a place of strength. Through this we have to stay together as a leading CUNY college community and be "CUNY Strong," "Lehman Strong", and "New York Tough."

Daniel Lemons
President


April 3, 2020

Dear Member of the Lehman Community:

How are you doing? I hope that despite these tough times, you and your loved ones are managing to make life work.

Last Friday, 98 members of the Lehman community enjoyed a virtual House Party sponsored by the Office of Campus Life. The star of the show was Lehman alum DJ PHNXMPM, better known as Ode Hoppie. This week, 80 members of the Senate had a practice session on Zoom. And many classes are meeting at least some of the time on Zoom, BlackBoard, and WebEx. It can be nourishing just being together virtually in those and other ways that help us transcend our isolation. 

Our community is not unscathed, and we have suffered painful losses. Two of my former colleagues at City College were taken this week by COVID-19. And at Lehman, we lost one of our nursing alumna, Freda Ocran, a healthcare hero who put her life on the line for patients at Jacobi Medical Center. A New Yorker article featured the father of one of our nursing students who was also taken by the virus. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to their families and friends as they bear these great losses. I know many others are struggling now, and we fervently hope for their full recovery.

Graduation news

CUNY just announced that all graduation ceremonies across the university are postponed. At the completion of the spring semester, all degrees will be conferred as scheduled, and diplomas will be awarded. In the coming days, Lehman will develop its own plans for celebrating our Class of 2020.

Loaner iPads and Chromebooks

We have received over 500 requests for loaner iPads and Chromebooks, and for the past week we have been distributing them to students via UPS. Students who have not yet applied for a loaner iPad or a Chromebook should fill out the application on our website.

Tuition Payment Plans

See my April 1 email to campus for an explanation of possible ways to handle payments for this spring term. You can submit a completed financial hardship form via this link.

Student Activity Fee Refund

The University will waive 25 percent of the Spring 2020 Student Activity Fee for students enrolled in CUNY colleges on a 15-week calendar. Read more here.

SETL

There will be no formal SETL process this term. There has been far too much disruption for evaluations to be comparable to other terms. However, there may be informal surveys of students about their experience this term. The results of those surveys would be for the purpose of learning from our experience of switching to distance learning and not for evaluation of individual instructors.

Planning for the summer term

In an interview on CNN last week, Bill Gates said, “You think you are overreacting, and two days later you look back and realize you were under-reacting.” That has been our life the past month or more. At this point, it doesn’t even seem like an overreaction to plan for an all-online summer term. The Chancellor just announced that this will be a CUNY-wide practice for this summer term.

Planning for the fall term

Departments are beginning to plan for the fall term, and Bill Gates’s observation still applies. None of us knows where the peak of the infection curve is, or how far it extends into the summer and beyond. The world has no exit strategy for COVID-19 yet. Given that, it is certainly possible that some level of social distancing will still be required at least at the beginning of the fall term.

We are awaiting further guidance from NYSED and the CUNY central administration for a final decision about the format of fall courses. However, unlike what happened in the middle of this spring term, we have time to prepare to be online to some degree, should that be needed. The continuing development of digital learning tools can only help us be prepared for future contingencies, and regardless of what happens, will enrich our courses. In the coming weeks the Provost will be describing additional ways faculty and students will be supported in preparation for greater use of digital learning.

CARES Act

This week, the Congress passed, and the president signed, the $2 trillion CARES Act. Fourteen billion was designated for higher education, and it seems that CUNY should receive around $200 million to offset costs related to transitioning students to remote learning for the remainder of the term. In the coming weeks we will learn the specifics. It is not enough to cover all of the costs caused by COVID-19, but it will help.

More information

As always, the best source for up-to-date information about Lehman’s response to COVID-19 developments is the coronavirus website, which we add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

FernsA close friend of mine who is sequestered like we are, sent me this picture of new ferns growing outside his door. I find hope in their display of life’s resilience. Life goes on, and we go on.

Take care, and continue to stay safe by strictly following the guidance on social distancing, and also constant hand and respiratory hygiene. These precautions will remain extremely important for the coming weeks.


Daniel Lemons
President


April 2, 2020

Loaner Laptops

  • Loaner Laptops: More laptops arrived this morning at Lehman and we are working quickly to ship them out. Students who have not yet applied for a loaner iPad or a tablet should fill out the application on our website. If you are in need of a loaned device, sign up as soon as possible so we can arrange to get it to you.
  • Student Payment Plans and Financial Hardship Form: The global pandemic has had a long-lasting impact on the economy and I know that many of you are struggling to make ends meet.  We want to ensure that you can continue your education regardless of your current financial situation.
    • To help, for those students on a payment plan for Spring 2020 through Nelnet, your final payment due date has been postponed from April 5th to May 5th.  Students whose current situation does not allow them to make timely payment should take advantage of this delay.  Students who require further additional time to make the final scheduled payment may be able to receive an extension beyond May 5th.  If you find that you are still unable to make payment on May 5th, and need additional time, contact Nelnet and let them know your situation. Plan participants may request a hardship extension to June 5th.  Nelnet will be sending notifications directly to payment plan participants.
    • For those students who are not on a payment plan, and who have remaining tuition balances, we will work with you to arrange a reasonable payment schedule to allow you to enroll for summer and fall classes.  Please submit a completed financial hardship form available through via this link.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: For those who are underemployed or out of work but may not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, the New York State Department of Labor has created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as an option. This assistance is available to workers including self-employed/1099 workers, part time workers, and those who have not been working for an extended period of time. Impacted students can apply by phone or online.  More information can be found at: https://labor.ny.gov/ui/pdfs/pandemic-unemployment-assistance.pdf and https://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/cares-act.shtm.

As always, the best source for up-to-date information about Lehman’s response to COVID-19 developments is the coronavirus website, which we add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Take care, and continue to stay safe by strictly following the guidance on social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene. These precautions will remain extremely important for the coming weeks.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 30, 2020

As we approach our third week working and studying off campus, I continue to hear inspiring stories about the great work instructors and students are doing to adjust. I know a number of students are not yet equipped with loaner computers, but they will be arriving shortly and we want to make sure those who need them have them.

  • With that in mind, I want to remind students who have not yet applied for a loaner iPad or a tablet to fill out the application on our website. We now have a very good supply, so if you’re in need of a loaned device, sign up as soon as possible so we can arrange for you to get it.
  • Speaking of technology, on a final note, it’s important that we continue to protect our ourselves and our community from an apparent increase in phishing attacks. The latest one I’ve been getting informs me that my email storage is 95 percent full and that I should click the link to take care of it – which our Information Technology division says we should not. Please remain vigilant by making sure you only click on links from known senders and that your anti-virus software is up-to-date.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 27, 2020

We’ve made it to the end of another week together. While many of us have not been subjected, thankfully, to harassment or racist, xenophobic attacks, many Asian Americans have been seeing a surge in this unacceptable behavior. Russell Jeung, an Asian American Studies professor at San Francisco State University has created a new website, Stop AAPI Hate and in its first eight days, NPR reports that it received more than 650 reports of discrimination, largely against Asian Americans.

Here in New York, Lehman Alumna and New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and xenophobic rhetoric. If you’ve been a victim of these attacks or a witness, you can call 1-800-771-7755 or email civil.rights@ag.ny.gov

If you expect to graduate this spring, you have no doubt been wondering whether you should order a cap and gown. Early next week, we expect the university to announce some of the plans for the spring 2020 graduation. Since there is a March 28 deadline for reserving your cap and gown, I recommend that you not do so at this time. We will make any needed adjustments in the future. Thank you again for your patience and flexibility in these challenging times.  

Finally, I want to thank those of you who have sent messages of gratitude and affirmation as I’ve endeavored to communicate with you on at least a daily basis as we have tried to keep you informed and updated on our College and CUNY response to coronavirus-related developments. For now, given the swell of information that is available and our regularly updated website, I will give all of your inboxes a break from a daily message and communicate less frequently.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy some of our beautiful spring weather this weekend while also keeping your distance from others.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 26, 2020

With our recalibration period starting tomorrow, I wanted to remind students who have not applied for a loaner iPad or a tablet to fill out the application on our website. We now have a good supply, so if you’re in need of a loaned device, sign up ASAP so we can arrange for you to get it.

And, in the spirit of the creative and fun-loving Lehman College campus community, the Office of Campus Life has coordinated a virtual House Party tomorrow, Friday, March 27th starting at 8 p.m. and going until 10 p.m. The star of the show will be DJ PHNXMPM, better known as Ode Hoppie, a Lehman alum and former Assistant Director of Campus Life. One of the best things about a Zoom party is that any CUNY or Lehman student can join. The link is zoom.us/join Zoom ID #524-187-793 House Parties are planned for every other Friday through the end of April.

House Party

Daniel Lemons
President


March 25, 2020

Dear Member of the Lehman Community:

In the past few weeks I have observed in all quarters an almost unimaginable flexibility, creativity and willingness to jump into uncertain waters. We will need to keep that up. In these challenging times, we have had to make many decisions, and do so rapidly. And I have heard reasonable concerns about some of them.

So, why are we having a recalibration beginning Friday when many of us seem to have finally gotten on track with distance learning? Well, while many students had a computer or laptop and reliable internet access on March 19, a substantial number of students still did not.

We knew that the digital equity divide existed before our retooling recess, and in response, and through the prompt and tireless efforts of Vice President Ronald Bergmann, Dean Stanley Bazile, Vice President Rene Rotolo – along with many others – close to 200 Chromebooks and iPads were acquired in the past week to be loaned to students. At the same time, the CUNY central administration ordered a large number of additional laptops and iPads for distribution. A portion of those are about to arrive.

To give you some sense of the 144 students who have applied for and will receive the loaner computers:

  • 40 expect to graduate this spring
  • 91 are using the Lehman College Food Bank
  • 67 are full-time undergraduates, and,
  • Almost all are comfortable using BlackBoard – they just need the proper equipment to have a fair chance of finishing the term.

What we need for that to happen is more time to distribute computers and then for those students to get online and catch up with their classes; that is part of what the recalibration gives us.

I encourage students to continue distance learning through the recalibration period if they have fully entered into it. Instructors who know that every student in their class is now equipped for distance learning can continue to add material online as they see fit; that is one of the great features of asynchronous learning.

The shorter spring recess is unfortunate, but very little about the spring term of 2020 fits our usual pattern. It is unlike any other term in Lehman College history. We all have adapted to changes we didn’t see coming in every one of the past thirty days. The recalibration is one more such change that springs from our commitment to our mission. Without question, it requires adjustments and effort, but despite that, it is unlikely to derail students. Without it, a significant number won’t have a chance this term. There may be students who still will not succeed, despite these efforts, and for those, we will follow up with other measures so they can recover and continue their studies.

As always, thank you for your commitment!

Daniel Lemons
President


March 24, 2020

Dear Lehman Community Member:

When CUNY began full distance learning on March 19 we knew it would be a challenge for the students without ready access to computers and the internet in their homes. We immediately set out to obtain loaner computers and iPads for students, and internet providers have stepped up to provide access. But, one week into this distance education phase we are still grappling with the challenge of enabling all Lehman students to continue the spring term. We are seeing the consequences of socioeconomic inequity combined with a fast-moving public health crisis.

The rapid acceleration in the number of COVID-19 infections in the New York metro area since March 19 that prompted the latest executive order from the Governor has made it much more difficult to help Lehman students fully enter into distance learning mode. In response the Chancellor just announced that we will have a brief Recalibration Period for Educational Equity, beginning this Friday, March 27. It will last through Wednesday, April 1. Programs and courses that were being taught online before March 12 will proceed, but for everyone else, distance learning will resume next Thursday, April 2.

  • The purpose of the Recalibration is to let everyone catch their breath: the faculty will have some more time to refine their approaches to distance education and add materials to their BlackBoard sites, and students will have some time to catch up.
  • This week we are still finalizing distribution methods for loaner laptops and iPads, and the Recalibration period should allow us to increase the number we are able to get out. We also anticipate that we will soon have more available to meet demand. It's very important that students who have not yet applied fill out the online application now. We have set priorities for distribution, but though we can't yet be sure, we hope we will be able to provide a loaner to many more students needing one.
  • CUNY's Spring Recess will now run from Wednesday, April 8 through Friday, April 10. For faculty, staff and students whose religious observation extends into the week of April 13, as always, you have the right to request a religious exemption to observe the holiday and we will offer maximum flexibility in addressing these requests.
  • The extraordinary circumstances brought on by coronavirus have prompted CUNY to develop a flexible credit/no credit policy. Pending approval by the CUNY Board of Trustees, the policy will go into effect April 1, 2020. If approved, students will have 20 days after they receive their grades to decide if they want to convert the letter grades they earn in their classes to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading. The University will supply students with pertinent information about the impact of CR/NC on their financial aid and academic progress. This is an approach being adopted by many universities.

Understandably, there are many questions about the fate of graduation exercises, and we are discussing this CUNY-wide. I can't say for sure when we will finalize the plan, but I can assure that it will be soon, and students expecting to graduate will have time to make needed adjustments. No matter how graduation happens this spring, the Class of 2020 is going to be special, and unforgettable.

As always, the best source for up-to-date information about Lehman's response to COVID-19 developments is the coronavirus website, which we add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Take care, and stay safe by keeping your distance.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 23, 2020

Dear Lehman Community Member:

I have just a few things to call out this afternoon.

  • As the amount of testing and cases of COVID-19 continue to both rise, we are asking for any reports of positive COVID-19 test results through Wednesday, March 25th, which is 14 days from the beginning of the CUNY-wide's recess to transition to remote learning and instruction. After the 25th, we ask that members of the staff and faculty, who would have been the only people potentially on campus, who have symptoms associated with COVID-19, have been tested or are planning to be tested to report to us at the covid19.reporting@lehman.cuny.edu address.

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been tested, be advised that the overwhelmed health workers at hospitals and now areas like the newly opened Jacob Javits Center request that you receive telehealth screening by making an appointment by calling 311. The Lehman College-based drive-through site is operated through the New York State Coronavirus hotline and you should only call for an appointment if you are over the age of 50, immune-compromised and displaying symptoms, including a fever. The test is prioritized for the most vulnerable New Yorkers including the elderly, first responders and health care workers. Those in these categories should contact the New York State Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to make an appointment.

  • The good news continues to come in; in response to the Governor's request for help from science faculty and graduate students to ramp up testing, I received this from the School of Natural and Social Sciences dean, Pam Mills – "I sent an email to chairs of bench science departments, including physics, and EVERYONE said they would help if needed, that they could be taught to run instruments!!" What a great response!

  • And I've received numerous emails from students, some relating the challenges they are facing having online access to their courses - which we are trying hard to help with, but also expressing gratitude and praise for their instructors who are doing amazing Zoom sessions and posting great videos. I'm sure there are many other ways that instructors are doing things they've never done before to keep the education going.

As always, the best source for up-to-date information about Lehman's response to COVID-19 developments is the coronavirus website, which we add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Take care, and stay safe by keeping your distance.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 22, 2020

Dear Lehman Colleague:

As we prepare to start another week outside of our normal routines, it would be no surprise if you were having some difficulty coping with the drastic changes we've experienced in such a short period of time – some staff and faculty members have expressed feeling fatigued, fearful and a bit of restlessness, and I recognize those feelings in myself at times. It is important to know that you are not alone or unusual in experiencing some of these emotions, or other ones. If you find yourself wanting to reach out to a mental health professional, there are free resources, such as NYC Well which offers text, phone or virtual chat counseling options, as well as the CUNY Employee Assistance Program; they can provide free mental health assistance during these trying times.

And here is some encouraging news and inspiration, straight out of Lehman:

  • An appointment-only drive through testing site will open tomorrow at Lehman College. You must call ahead for an appointment in order to be tested. Anyone without an appointment will be turned away. The site will feature two lanes to accommodate up to 500 tests per day. The test is prioritized for the most vulnerable New Yorkers including the elderly, first responders and health care workers. Those in these categories should contact the New York State Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to make an appointment. If you are under age 50 and you have a mild illness, continue to utilize telehealth services, avoid emergency rooms and contact 311 if you want to be further screened for COVID-19.
  • I want to celebrate the many extraordinary ways that members of the staff and faculty have continued to go above and beyond, living out the values we hold as a community:
    • VP of Enrollment Management, Reine Sarmiento, and her team raised $2600 to contribute to the Food Bank, another area of our campus that is full of tireless volunteers under the enthusiastic and incredible leadership of Suzette Ramsundar and the entire Campus Life team.
    • Faculty members from the School of Natural and Social Sciences, and the School of Human Services, Health Sciences and Nursing, identified a few boxes of N95 masks and gloves that they have donated to the Montefiore Medical Center. Here is what the administrator from the Department of Emergency Medicine wrote in response, “This is probably one of the best emails I received today. My providers will be beyond grateful for these masks.  I can’t even describe my gratitude to Lehman. I’ve come across some magnificent people along my journey trying to obtain masks, googles, and other items for my team. I’m happy to say that I’ve added your team to this list.”
    • Among the hardest working members of the Lehman community, who we cannot thank enough, are the College’s public safety officers, custodians, and Buildings and Grounds workers, plus their indefatigable leaders, VP Rene Rotolo and Director of Public Safety, Fausto Ramirez. They all have been on campus every day, keeping everyone safe, and being on the frontline. By now we know that is no small matter, and they deserve enormous thanks!

If you have questions about any aspect of what Lehman is doing now, or need information, go first to the best source, the coronavirus website, which we keep up-to-date and add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu. For those who have the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been tested or are planning to be tested, let us know: COVID19.reporting@lehman.cuny.edu.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 20, 2020

Dear Lehman Community Member:

As we end this fateful week and think ahead to the weekend and next week, here are the highlights:

  • Remember that the campus is completely closed through Sunday, March 22.
  • Late this afternoon, Governor Cuomo announced that he will sign an Executive Order mandating that 100 percent of the workforce must stay home beginning Sunday, March 22 at 8 p.m., excluding those providing essential services:
  • The good news continues to come in; in response to the Governor's request for help from science faculty and graduate students to ramp up testing, I received this from the School of Natural and Social Sciences dean, Pam Mills – "I sent an email to chairs of bench science departments, including physics, and EVERYONE said they would help if needed, that they could be taught to run instruments!!" What a great response!
    • Students, faculty and staff members will not be able to come to campus while this order is in effect. This includes individual researchers. Those with highly urgent requirements to come to campus need to consult and gain approval for a planned visit to campus from their deans or supervisors. Deans and supervisors have been instructed to only approve visits that meet strict criteria for what is deemed essential.
    • Students are not permitted on campus until this order is relaxed, or we develop safe ways to facilitate essential visits.
    • The Bursar's Office will not open next week. We have determined that this will not create undue hardship near-term, and we continue to work on longer-term solutions.
    • The mailroom has been opened on a split schedule. You will be notified when a package for you is received, then as is possible within the limits of the prevailing order, you can make an appointment to pick it up.
  • Students who have been notified that they will be receiving loaner computers and iPads next week will need to wait until we work out another way they can be delivered in compliance with the Governor's order. Don't despair, we will find a way and will contact you as soon as we do. In any case we will update you early in the week.
  • As you may know, the college is making further plans to loan additional laptop computers and iPads to students as they become available. I understand that there is a significant need and we want students to complete the semester successfully in a distance learning mode. As such, we have created an online form that will allow students to be placed on a waiting list for devices. Once a device becomes available, the Office of Campus Life will contact you to arrange for you to receive it. Again, this will happen as we develop safe ways to manage the distribution process.
  • I ask faculty members to be understanding and make allowances for students who are still unable to access course materials. We will be ramping up for a couple of weeks as we improve student access.
  • Students, here's your part. If you are having difficulty accessing online materials, keep studying anyway. Use your syllabus to guide you and be an independent learner as we work to get you fully connected.

As always, the best source of information is the coronavirus website which we will keep up-to-date. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu

Thank you for your cooperation, resilience and flexibility. Lehman College has a phenomenal staff, faculty and administration that are all working to the extreme under these increasingly stringent conditions to keep spring semester going. We are all fearful and uncertain about what lies ahead, but despite that we have behaved like the caring community we are at our core.

I hope that as you stay in much of this weekend and the coming week, you will find some silver linings in being with your loved ones. Mary and I will be having a Zoom birthday party tomorrow for our one-year-old granddaughter in Texas, joined by her cousins in Berlin and in upstate New York. I hope you can do some distance singing and conversing as well. We need to stay connected.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 19, 2020

Dear Member of the Lehman Community:

Today marked the first day of distance learning for all classes at Lehman and across all of CUNY. In important ways it is a historic day that will separate the past from the future of education at CUNY. I know the faculty and staff have been working in a remarkable way to make this happen.

To help students with the ongoing transition, we have aggregated essential information on our website, including:

We will be updating this information on a daily basis.

We are working hard to prepare laptops to distribute to those who need them, and information about that will be provided as soon as we have it at http://lehman.edu/coronavirus/student.php. Our current supply is insufficient for all who need a device, but if you don’t get one next week, know that we are working hard to obtain many more, and I expect that we will.

You should also visit the CUNY Continuity for Students website for additional resources. We continue to ask that you send COVID-19 related updates and questions to Covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

If you have the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been directly exposed, tested or are planning to get tested please let us know: COVID19.Reporting@lehman.cuny.edu. Your privacy will be protected.

Our goal is for all students to successfully complete the term as they stay healthy. If circumstances prevent that for some, we will do everything we can to find solutions that minimize the impact. There are dozens of questions about how that can be done, and at this moment we can answer very few of them. In the coming weeks we’ll have more answers, tapping our ingenuity and proving our ability to persist. It is a stressful time for everyone, so stay connected.

All the best this weekend to you and your family,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 18, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

Tomorrow, CUNY students will move to a remote learning format. This is unprecedented territory for all of us, so remember to be patient with one another—and yourselves--during this transition.

As we begin this new mode of instructional delivery, there are students who may not yet have the necessary devices for access to remote learning tools, and we are working on a variety of solutions for those students going forward. It may take a week or so, but both Lehman College and CUNY are working overtime to make this happen. There will be more information coming to you as more options become available.

On another note, student and faculty services will be unavailable on campus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the campus will be closed. That means that any essential needs on campus that you have before the weekend should be handled by tomorrow, as you will not be able to come to campus Friday thru Sunday.

We have created a new email address for those who have the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been directly exposed, tested or are planning to get tested: COVID19.Reporting@lehman.cuny.edu. Your privacy will be protected.

As always, the best source of information is the coronavirus website which we continually update. Send your questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Stay healthy,

President Lemons

WHO Coronavirus Flyer

 


March 17, 2020

Dear Lehman Colleague:

Starting tomorrow, and until new information indicates otherwise, we will operate with minimum service on campus. The details of what that means will be kept up to date on the coronavirus website.

Starting tomorrow morning:

    • The Day Care Center and Food Pantry will remain in operation, but according to modified schedules that will be updated regularly on the website.
    • Faculty and staff will be able to come to campus, but will need to schedule visits with their deans or supervisors, first, who will then arrange scheduling with Public Safety. A Public Safety officer will accompany all CUNY-ID-holding visitors to their destinations.
    • We understand that some employees pick up their paychecks. We will work out a way to distribute those in the next few days. The bursar's office will also establish a mechanism to accept checks.
  • Students will also be able to schedule campus visits to pick up borrowed laptops or other necessary devices.

We will work to find other safe ways for faculty, staff and students to access needed resources. That will evolve, so please be patient.

With these changes we enter a new phase of carrying on our work. I read an apt statement a few days ago about our situation: “There are no good choices, only good decisions.” I have heard from almost every part of our campus community in the past few days as we discuss what is “essential”¾to our students, our faculty, our staff members.

At each step it has not been obvious what a good decision is when we are trying to balance our commitment to the health of everyone alongside the social justice concerns that arise when essential services to students without adequate resources are restricted.

Since the end of February, my attention has been focused on the data as they have become available. Today those data have led us to this new way to operate, one that has been discussed and seconded by the Cabinet.

As always, the best source of information is the coronavirus website, which we will keep up-to-date. This is an unprecedented situation, so there are more questions than answers; as we work through the next week or two, we will address the challenges that arise one by one. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Finally, I need to say again, please keep kindness at the forefront. In a crisis many mistakes are made, even after all due diligence. If you look back at your own personal actions in the past week you will likely find ways that you could have acted differently. Everyone is in that boat. Be generous and make allowances. Support each other. And, most importantly, keep your distance but stay in touch. Really, you have to overdo it now.

Stay safe and healthy,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 16, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Last evening, I wrote to you about a Lehman student who alerted us yesterday that she had tested positive for coronavirus. We now know more information about her schedule on campus.

The student began feeling ill on March 5, and thought it was allergies. She attended classes on March 5, 7, 9 and 11. Last week, however, she began feeling sluggish and fatigued, and was tested for the coronavirus. She heard back Sunday that she was positive.

State health officials has advised us that the students and instructors who were in her classes, held at Davis and Carman halls, need to go into a "precautionary quarantine" for 14-days after they took a class.

These were the classes attended:

Section Subject Component Room Day Time Date Last Attended
04 BIO LEC DA-222 SA 9-11:40a.m. Mar 7
04LB BIO LAB DA-222 SA 1-2:40 p.m. Mar 7
R01 SWK LEC CA-208 TH 2-4:40 p.m. Mar 5
XM82 SWK LEC CA-215 M 6-8:40 p.m. Mar 9
xW83 SWK LEC CA-325 W 6-8:40 p.m. Mar 11

 

The areas visited by the students on those dates have been thoroughly cleaned by our custodial staff as part of their ongoing proactive cleaning measures.

The risk to the rest of our community is low. But these are extraordinary times. If you experience symptoms such as a fever, cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, please contact your health care provider. If you don't have a health care provider, please call 311.

Your safety and health are my priority. If you would like more information, please feel free to email us at covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Finally, for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, campus offices will be open only to essential staff as we continue to prepare for distance learning to begin Thursday, and we finalize new operating procedures.

Our thoughts are with the impacted student and her family at this time, and all our community.

We will keep you updated. Please visit lehman.edu/coronavirus for more information.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 16, 2020

Good Morning Lehman Campus Community:

We are starting today in a different world. Yesterday, events moved at a lightning pace, leading to the closing of NYC public schools, closing of restaurants, businesses and all events, and bringing our campus staffing down to just essential persons today. These are all necessary steps, but they create many challenges for us as we strive to continue to function as a college.

There will be more communications coming today, and this will probably be the briefest, but there are two things I want to address now.

Before last night's announcement we were already far along in moving to remote operation. However, we had planned to finish the process today with staff able to be on campus to gather what was needed to work from home. Since we are not able to carry out that plan today, every supervisor/chair/director will be working with their deans and vice presidents throughout the day to accomplish this transition. I ask that all members of the faculty and staff wait to hear from their chairs/supervisors about the next steps. By the end of the day, we hope to be well on our way to operating in our new mode.

These are extraordinary times, ones that call for patience and flexibility. I will be back in touch tomorrow as we continue to respond to a rapidly changing situation. Thank you for your patience, understanding and loyalty to Lehman College.

Finally, more about the student who tested positive for COVID-19. Knowing that someone who tested positive was in class last week has added to the fear we already have about being exposed. The protocol we follow after a documented direct exposure like that is to identify all of the classes attended by the student in the past 14 days and notify all other students, faculty and staff who might have been exposed. They are advised to self-isolate until they have consulted with a medical professional for further steps. If we haven't already, we clean all areas where the student tells us they have been on campus in the past 14 days. Since almost the entire campus has already been cleaned that step is completed.

After last night's email, many students emailed with questions. We will probably not be able to answer them all because we are extremely busy managing the transition to remote operations. However, today we will put more information on the website that should answer most questions. We will not identify the student or provide other specific information, but we have contacted every person who was in the vicinity of, if not necessarily exposed to the infected individual. We are guided in these actions by the best medical advice we can get.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 15, 2020

Dear Lehman Colleagues,

I’m sorry to disturb you at this late hour, though I expect that by now it’s not much of a surprise. I have two important pieces of information to share with you about College operations tomorrow.

First, you should have received a CUNY alert around 8PM stating that only essential staff are to report to work tomorrow. That alert came in response to the Governor’s afternoon announcement of the Executive Order regarding non-essential personnel not reporting to work tomorrow, and the Mayor’s announcement regarding the closing of the NYC public schools.

In light of the CUNY directive, offices, units and departments will not be open to serve students tomorrow, Monday, March 16.In the morning you will be contacted by your supervisor who will make arrangements for you to continue to deliver essential student services in the safest ways possible. You should remain at home in the morning and you will be contacted by your manager with further instructions. As I emphasized with the students and faculty, we are not on a break, and have to maintain or increase our effort in order for this term to end satisfactorily. I have no doubt that you will.

Second, we learned late today that a Lehman student tested positive for COVID-19. The student’s professors and classmates are now being informed, and we are requesting that they self-isolate for one day while we confer with public health officials tomorrow. All the areas this student entered have already been deep-cleaned.

These are extraordinary times, ones that call for patience and flexibility. I will be back in touch tomorrow as we continue to respond to a rapidly changing situation. Thank you for your patience, understanding and loyalty to Lehman College.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 15, 2020

Dear Lehman Colleague:

In this disturbing time, we are seeing amazing resourcefulness everywhere at Lehman College. In every academic area where I have heard updates after reaching out to chairs this weekend, faculty and staff are more than rising to the occasion and rapidly adapting courses for distance delivery.

What we are doing collectively is truly impressive, and I thank everyone for contributing to this prodigious effort. College staff in all areas have been setting up online or remote ways to work with students. In some areas, like the Library, IT Center and enrollment services, we are still developing ways to have in-person interactions while practicing social distancing.

According to public health experts, optimal social distancing means to maintain a distance of six to 10 feet from others whenever possible. By the way, do that everywhere you possibly can. It won’t help much if the campus is the only place where social distancing happens. Despite what we are doing on campus, we all must understand that it is not possible now to be both safe and provide optimal student service.

That is why we are undertaking significant measures to enforce social distancing at Lehman starting today.

We have already taken a number of important steps to reduce density on campus. To continue in that vein, we intend to utilize Monday, March 16th to allow staff to finalize plans for telecommuting until further notice with the intention that everyone who can telecommute will begin doing so on Tuesday, March 17th. This applies to anyone who has not already established a telecommuting schedule with their manager.

Of course, any service that can be delivered remotely will be, but we recognize that some offices must maintain a physical presence for now.  Continuing those services while ensuring everyone’s safety is the goal.

  • Campus offices will be open tomorrow from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. From 2 p.m. on, staff in all units will be preparing their workplaces to deliver services either completely remotely or with reduced on-site staffing.
  • Our aim is to ensure continuity of in-person student-facing services from Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Tuesday, March 17 and continuing for as long as possible. Consolidating services and closing unoccupied areas will allow the custodial staff, who now are focused on cleaning the entire campus, to devote more time to these high-traffic areas.
  • We understand, however, that over the next two weeks there will be significant changes in public health directives which could cause us to alter these new hours of operation.

This will apply to Financial Aid (x8545) Bursar (x8573), Registrar (x8255), Counseling Center (x8761), Student Health (x8900) and Student Disability Services (x8441). The library, IT Center in Carman Hall, APEX, and cafeteria will be making decisions about their hours of operations tomorrow. Please check the website for hours of operation.  

As an additional safeguard, we also have determined that visitors will not be allowed on campus at this time.

News about the spread of the virus changes on an hourly basis, and I know that you are receiving many messages from Lehman during this time. We are continuing to update our website to include up-to-the-minute information, so I urge you to check this resource. You can also get up-to-date information from @LehmanCollege and on Instagram, @lehmancuny.

If you have specific questions, please email covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu. We will get you the most current information as quickly as possible.

I understand how difficult a time this is, and I know that our community will get through it, guided by science, common sense, and our usual compassion for others.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 13, 2020

Campus was quiet today, but that does not mean nothing was happening.

We have entered the third phase of our response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, the first being personal hygienic and other actions to reduce exposure to the virus; the second being the cessation of on-campus class meetings and events, and the third, identifying all other ways to reduce exposure for the staff and faculty who remain on an open campus.

We are in the active planning stage for lowering our human density to the absolute minimum required to carry on the many functions needed to complete spring term and prepare for summer and fall.

We have two goals in phase 3:

  • Maintaining operations as completely as possible while minimizing the risk to anyone’s health
  • Limiting the number of individuals on campus to keep density low

To achieve these goals, we will be implementing a number of changes in all service areas on campus which you will learn about on Monday.

Thank you for being flexible, and understanding that we are going through a very challenging time; one that calls out for the best in all of us. Lehman College has never experienced this kind of crisis and every hour brings a new development. We have to respond quickly, and often with much less information than we could use.

We will make some mistakes. I ask that each person in the Lehman Community make an extra effort to be understanding and kind. We have to get through this together.

As always, try to have a good weekend, but above all, be safe and keep your exposure as limited as you can. COVID-19 is lurking everywhere, and it is going to spread.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 12, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

In this daily update I will focus on how the unfolding COVID-19 situation is playing out for College staff. Up to now, we have devoted our communications more towards students and faculty, because their face-to-face meeting for classes has been by far the largest venue for human-to-human contact and, consequently, potential viral transmission.

While in-person classes are now suspended for the rest of the term, the campus remains open and operational. Through your ongoing efforts, we will continue to provide all of the services that students need in order to complete the term, prepare for the summer and fall sessions, or enter for the first time in the fall. I want to assure all members of the staff that you have never been absent from our discussions and planning at Lehman or at the CUNY central office.

I’m sure you have seen notices of gathering cancellations and much more in an effort to reduce community spread of COVID-19 through density reduction. Just a note of context: Just hours ago, the Governor announced that beginning Friday at 5 p.m. no gatherings with 500 people or more will be permitted in New York State. Venues with capacities up to 500 will be allowed only 50 percent of their rated occupancy.

At Lehman, we have dramatically reduced human density by suspending on-campus classes, but we have not brought it to zero or even close. No policy can prevent viral spread, it can only slow it down. So, our goal is to continue to reduce human density on campus, and minimize exposure of staff members on their way to campus, each through a variety of strategies.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Following CUNY guidance, staff may consult with their managers about working their regular daily hours on a flexible schedule that involves changing the start and end time of their regular daily hours or by working a condensed work week, similar to our schedule during the summer. An employee may be permitted to work at home or at an alternate CUNY location for all or part of their regular work week for the duration of the current recess if the employee’s primary function can be effectively performed remotely or could be temporarily modified. CUNY will let us know if telecommuting will be an available option available to staff beyond March 18.

Managers should consult with Human Resources for guidance on expectations for work assignments, check-in, and other parameters relevant to supporting a remote arrangement. It is particularly important for older adults, and/or those who have chronic medical conditions, including but not limited to, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control who seek additional accommodations to consult with Lehman College’s Human Resources office.

Alternate Ways to Work

Although this won’t be an option for everyone, we are opening the parking lots to staff who can, but do not usually, drive to work. Public Safety officers have been instructed to allow you to park in campus lots as long as you show your Lehman ID. There will be no charge.

Health and Wellness Concerns

We continue to encourage staff who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill if they are infected by COVID-19 and/or feeling sick to stay home and to see a physician. Buildings and Grounds and our facilities team has been regularly deep cleaning buildings and work spaces. All areas where staff or students who have potentially been in contact with COVID-19 have been closed for 24 hours, per New York City Department of Health and Hygiene regulations, and deep-cleaned before reopening. We will now also be able to catch up on cleaning that might have lagged as we responded to a host of extra tasks while students were still on campus. We are re-stocking cleaning supplies as we are able, and so far we have enough.

Maintaining Personal Distance

Some offices will continue to serve large numbers of students who will form lines and may crowd office spaces. Obviously, that is not a good thing. We need to quickly develop ways to structure the waiting spaces, as well as one-to-one meeting spaces, so there can be safe distances between individuals. Solutions will vary from office to office, so customized creative solutions are going to be needed. Please put on your thinking cap and come up with ways to do this. If materials or other assistance are needed, area supervisors should not hesitate to reach out for them. We will do everything we can to respond. And don’t be afraid to try something you’re not sure will work. Some experimentation will be needed.

Contact Information for Staff Concerns and Questions

We regularly update the Coronavirus website at Lehman daily and there, you can find a robust number of resources about what actions are being taken to keep you safe and to help with this rapid transition. Should you have further questions about how COVID-19 will impact Lehman College staff, or have suggestions or requests, please contact the Lehman College COVID-19 Task Force at covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu

Thank you for all you do every day, and stay healthy!

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 10, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

You may have heard reports today on WNYC or via social media in recent days that some CUNY students and faculty members are concerned that the university has not closed yet in response to the COVID-19 (C-19) outbreak. In the past two days, we have learned of at least temporary closings of a number of the private universities in New York, including nearby Fordham University. One comment I heard on the radio report this morning was, “Is campus closing only for the rich kids?”

First, I want to reiterate that as we have been responding moment-to-moment to the rapidly unfolding reality of C-19, and planning over the past 10 days for a number of future contingencies, we have always seen closing the campus as a possibility. Each day as we monitor and respond to new developments we have two topmost priorities: Keeping our students, faculty and staff safe and healthy, and reducing the academic impact on students of any changes we make. These two priorities have been at the forefront of every discussion and decision.

Our judgements on threats to the health of individuals in our community rely mostly on what we learn from the New York City and New York State Departments of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control. Major decisions by CUNY and the New York City schools are reliant on them. Even with their expertise at play, they, like we, are confronting something never before encountered in quite the same way. There is so much that is not yet known about viral transmission and health effects on the population. In light of that, we have tended towards conservative decisions locally to reduce the risk to the campus community as much as possible. In our region, none of those official organizations has called for a cessation of movement and mass self-quarantine, like that seen in China and now Italy. CUNY has now called for considering postponing events that include large numbers of people, and all along, the self-quarantine of individuals at higher risk: The elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

In addition to safeguarding the health of everyone in the Lehman community, we are very concerned about minimizing any academic impacts on our students. The worst imaginable would be the loss of a term, which would mean not graduating almost 4,000 students, as well as prolonging the time to graduation for everyone. So, we have been determined to do everything we can to sustain academic progress through the term. If we close the campus, that will become much more difficult, though not impossible, depending upon several factors, including the length of the closure. It’s important to note that closing the campus is not the same as closing the College.

Besides the length of a campus (not College) closure, the largest factor is our ability to continue academic work remotely. This is no problem for fully online courses, and it is not such a major challenge for partially online courses, of which there are many at Lehman, over 20 percent. However, many courses at Lehman do not even use BlackBoard, and converting these courses to online delivery is a major undertaking. I know from experience, having converted several courses to partially online format, that it takes a long time. I spent over a year doing it. Obviously, we don’t have a year, and would have to settle for what we could achieve in a short period of time. We would use a variety of solutions from simple phone conferencing to fully online conversion.

From the first day of our planning to respond to C-19 we began to put together the resources that would enable our faculty to teach remotely, and that effort has accelerated. In addition to the challenge for faculty members with varying degrees of tech ability, there are other important considerations. Not all students have computers and high-bandwidth internet access other than with handheld devices. Those work well to a point, but are not as good for taking quizzes or exams, or writing papers. This is one of the ways that we differ from many of the private universities that have closed so far. By and large, they don’t have to worry about having students without high-bandwidth internet access.

Nonetheless, we are well along the way to developing a range of solutions for classes so that many could continue remotely, thus salvaging the term, and protecting our students to the greatest degree possible. As I have noted before, all students should be sure their CUNYFirst contact information is up to date, and they should have the BlackBoard App on their handheld devices. This is not the time to delay.

Returning to that student comment about the inequitable distribution of resources among universities – It is of course all too true, and when you consider the vastly different financial resources of CUNY compared to elite private colleges and universities, it’s not surprising that we operate differently. They have little reason not to close, and they are not putting their student’s academic progress at great risk by doing so. While we would love to have those kinds of resources – and in a just world, we would – we should be immensely proud of what we accomplish year after year in spite of not having the nearly as many. CUNY is the lifeblood of the New York region and a key driver of economic activity in the region and our graduates achieve in amazing ways. In a time of crisis like this, we are going to respond differently, but not necessarily less well. We have grit and we are going to do what we always do: Provide a high quality education and support our remarkable students.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 9, 2020

Be a hero and if you’re not well, stay home.

We have so many dedicated staff and students in the Lehman Campus Community, in addition to many thousands of people on campus in any given week. I know the temptation, even in this environment, is to come to work or school even when you’re not feeling well. But if you are sick, it means that you increase the chances of spreading your illness. It is actually more responsible for you to stay home when you’re not well and we will, of course, do everything we can to accommodate working and studying remotely when necessary.

That said, as we continue to hear moment by moment updates about the coronavirus, and the expected growth in the number of cases in New York State, there is understandable concern about commuting to campus. Certainly, it is important for all of us to travel more consciously in the current environment while also keeping in mind that Lehman College is open until we otherwise notify the campus community. We expect students to show up for classes unless they are ill.

I suggest checking the NYC DOH page for up-to-date information and guidance on additional precautions you should be taking beyond the ones we already know to be effective: effective hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands as well as, of course, staying home if unwell or having had direct contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19. Of course, if you are in a high-risk group and your physician is telling you to take other precautions, you should. If that means not coming to class, you should get a note from your physician and be sure to stay in touch with your instructors so you can keep up with your studies.

As of today, the number of confirmed cases in New York City remains low. There is no doubt there will be more in the coming days, but the exact level of risk so far has not been determined. The NYC DOH has not stated that commuting is risky, and has only identified traveling to Level 2 and Level 3 countries and contact with infected persons as risk factors.

That said, I have designated Gladys Maldoon as our Campus Coronavirus Liaison at the direction of CUNY central administration. Gladys’ responsibility in this role will be to collect data about every individual at Lehman College who presents a possible connection to the Coronavirus and share that information with the CUNYwide Coronavirus Task Force and the Office of the President. We want to make sure we are keeping track of all instances of possible contact with the virus. You should contact Gladys directly in instances such as these:

  • if a CUNY Community member comes in contact with someone who they have a good faith basis belief has been exposed to coronavirus or displays symptoms;
  • if a student, staff, or faculty member was in close contact with someone who just tested positive for the virus; or
  • if a student, staff, or faculty member attend a large gathering that results in self-quarantine.

Gladys can be reached at Gladys.Maldoon@lehman.cuny.edu. In the meantime, please be assured that Lehman and CUNY continue to take the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and we are actively preparing to maintain the safety of students, faculty and staff, along with academic and business continuity across a range of scenarios.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 6, 2020

It is understandable in these uncertain times to be concerned about what we refer to in higher education as academic continuity and how operations will or should continue as we are on high alert with regard to Covid-19. When we are exposed to a lot of conflicting information, it can be overwhelming and that feeling can overcome reason or facts.

So here are some facts about how Lehman College’s senior leadership is proceeding daily in response to COVID-19. We are in touch throughout each day with CUNY’s central administration, which is itself in communication with State and local public health officials. The campus senior leadership is continually assessing what risks there are to the campus community, especially given the proximity of new cases of the Covid-19 in New York State. As you probably know, the state has activated the Emergency Operations Center in Albany along with outposts in Westchester County.

Our decision to remain open and fully functioning follows guidance from the CUNY central administration and arises from several priorities, among the most important of which is not to cause harm and possibly jeopardize the spring term for all students. At this point in time there is no reason to consider closing other than fear. We have received communications from a few members of the campus community who are anxious as a result of this decision, but Lehman College has no more reason to close at this time than any other institution or organization in our area. Please rest assured that if there is indication from public health authorities that closing is the best public health step to take, we won’t hesitate to do so.

Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

 

Because that is a possibility we can’t dismiss, we are rapidly preparing, but we would only take the step in concert with the CUNY central administration, which is working closely with the New York City and New York State Departments of Health. A great source of updates from an array of agencies is also updated here daily. NYSED has granted us temporary permission to convert courses to online format and we have advised all faculty members who have not yet done so to activate their BlackBoard courses and be sure they are prepared to use that or other online formats to continue courses without meeting on campus. By the same token, all students should be familiar with using BlackBoard and should have the BlackBoard App on their mobile devices. Now is the time to be prepared.

There has been some discussion about the availability of handwashing and drying supplies. The Facilities team has doubled down on its efforts to replenish soap supplies in restrooms, but we have not stocked paper towels for some time due to their repeated inappropriate disposal which has caused many clogged toilets and drains, another health hazard. Concerns have been raised about air hand dryers spreading infection. A study from two years ago found that bacteria were concentrated in the airstream of hand dryers in public restrooms, but the investigators did not measure viruses. A more recent study of bacterial, again not viral, residue on hands after washing found that, “The number and types of bacteria remaining on washed hands were affected by the drying method. Hands dried with a jet air dryer harboured fewer viable bacteria [than after paper towel drying], reducing the risk of infection transmission via touch.” As is often the case, the available science doesn’t point unambiguously to a best practice. One thing is clear, you should keep on washing your hands frequently.

I will probably send out my next email on Sunday evening, but if there are no new developments at that time, I’ll give you a break and update you at the beginning of next week. Have a good weekend and after you’ve done all you can to stay healthy (wash, wash, wash), try not to stress.

Daniel Lemons
President


March 5, 2020

Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

We continue at Lehman College to actively monitor COVID-19 developments in the New York City area. One of the conversations we had at the Lehman College Senate meeting yesterday was about handwashing as a good, regular practice and the single most effective way to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control poster is a good reminder, as are these flyers and posters that will soon be distributed around campus and they also have recommendations for how to wash your hands most effectively along with an explanation of the science behind handwashing.

Stop the Spread of the Germs

Another good source of up-to-date information and recommendations is the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy website, which, along with linking to a video on handwashing at the World Health Organization website also highly encourages keeping your hands away from your face as much as possible to limit the spread of germs.

Every day we are inundated with information about COVID-19, and in stressful times like these, it’s easy for misinformation to circulate. For example, enhanced and preventive cleaning throughout the campus has prompted some incorrect speculation. My intent in communicating to the College community daily is to keep us all informed about what is happening on our campus and throughout the CUNY system. Be assured that I will notify you if there is a significant development that directly affects the Lehman family.

But finally, I want to put where we are with COVID-19 in perspective, because there is a lot of rapidly changing information that inevitably arouses fear. Our yearly flu season is a good point of comparison. Nationally, according to the CDC, preliminary estimates for the 2019-2020 influenza season are 32,000,000-45,000,000 flu illnesses, 14,000,000-21,000,000 flu medical visits, 310,000-560,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 18,000-46,000 deaths. These estimates predict an average flu season this year, and these data are almost never reported in the news, in stark contrast to our current news environment around COVID-19. We should also keep in mind what Governor Andrew Cuomo reminded us of today at his press conference which is that 80 percent of COVID-19 cases self-resolve with little sign of illness. The most vulnerable populations are elderly, immune compromised and others with pre-existing health risks. In other words, most students, faculty and staff at Lehman College are the least likely to have an adverse consequence should they become infected with COVID-19.

Concern about community spread is understandable, particularly at a commuter school such as this. But, it would be unfortunate if students missed classes because of a risk assessment that doesn’t square with reality. Wash your hands and follow the other most effective ways to avoid infection by COVID-19 or influenza virus, and then you have good reason to keep calm.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 4, 2020

Dear colleagues:

As the number of confirmed cases in the New York City area has risen to 11 as of this update, Lehman continues to actively monitor cases in our surrounding community. We have also created a landing page for all relevant Covid-19 updates on our website, http://lehman.edu/coronavirus/

You may have seen news today about the City University of New York (CUNY)’s decision, along with the State University of New York (SUNY), to support students who are traveling abroad in Warning Level 3 countries to return or remain, depending on factors of each individual case. We have been in communication with Lehman students to whom this would apply.

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered home from Italy, Japan and South Korea, 300 study-abroad students, 260 SUNY students and 40 CUNY students. They will be flying to Stewart Air Force Base on Saturday. While they are not required to return to New York, the risk of not returning now is that they may be unable to return later should borders be closed. These returning students will be quarantined on a SUNY campus until they are cleared to go home. We will work with our quarantined students so they can complete their coursework for the term.

CUNY has another 150 students in other countries and could decide to bring them back but is not requiring them to return at this point. CUNY is, however, cancelling all spring programs for Level 2 and Level 3 countries but will wait to decide on summer and fall programs.

CUNY has also set up a Covid-19 task force chaired by Executive Vice Chancellor Hector Batista. Our campus administration will communicate with them and queries should continue to be directed to the most relevant administration area at Lehman.

While we have no reason at this point to consider closing the college, we obviously need to be prepared in case we would need to do that. The matter of maintaining academic continuity is being discussed with faculty and staff, and being planned for, but something every member of the Lehman campus community can do right away is to be certain that their CUNYfirst contact information is accurate and up to date so information and updates will be received. Every member of the campus community should also be sure they are registered with the CUNY Alert system.

While we have experienced events that have impacted academic continuity in the past, such as Sept. 11th and Superstorm Sandy, this is a potentially unique situation. For most our classes, it is not a simple matter to convert an in-person class to online and doing so requires NYSED permission. We are, however, examining options for leveraging technology to support remote instruction. VP Ron Bergman will be sending a detailed communication on this to the campus shortly.

We are also recommending that employees returning from a country designated as Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 by the CDC contact the Lehman College Human Resources office by phone or email before returning to work at Human.Resources@lehman.cuny.edu or call 718-960-8181.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 3, 2020

Dear colleagues:

As we continue to receive updates on the rapidly moving developments of COVID-19 in New York City, including local school closures or preparation for closures in the Bronx and new information about a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in our area, we are also mindful of the unique stress and anxiety that can arise at this time. I wanted to make you aware of a resource that could be helpful at this time if you find yourself understandably overwhelmed or distressed at developments associated with COVID-19. Deer Oaks has online a helpful reassuring resource, “Building Psychological Immunity During the Coronavirus Outbreak.” The self-paced webinar is about 50 minutes long, and it offers practical resources for building personal resilience at this time.(The username and password for the Deer Oaks website is cuny).

Vice President Rene Rotolo has assured us that although some stores are reporting shortages of hand sanitizer, her team has enough supply for campus, is making it available in more public spaces on campus and is working to procure more.

We have identified a few students who are currently studying abroad and determining the best course of action for their potential return with the least amount of impact on their academic standing. Speaking of students abroad, I want to remind our campus community that we want to be particularly careful to support students who may be stigmatized or harassed by others based on their ethnicity or country of origin. During times like this, there is great potential for hysteria and a greater potential to use fear as a cloak for racial and ethnic profiling. There is no tolerance for that at Lehman, where we continue to embrace the legacy of our namesake, Herbert H. Lehman. I have heard reports that Asian-owned businesses are beginning to see business declines as a result of this stigmatization; an unfortunate reminder of the emotional, financial and social costs to stigmatization that we can offset by lending them our support at this time and continuing to do business with them.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
President


March 2, 2020

Dear member of the Lehman Community,

These are jittery times with worries about COVID-19 abounding and a stock market first falling last week and then soaring like a rocket today. As with so much that spins around the 24-hour news cycle, we often don’t really know what is real and what is hype. So, in this brief communication, here is what I can tell you about COVID-19 as of 5pm on Monday, March 2, 2020. There has been one positively identified COVID-19 infection in New York City, and the infected woman was previously traveling in a high- infection area, has respiratory symptoms, but thankfully is not in serious condition. Despite the frequent talk about a pandemic, we are not in the middle of one, and hopefully we won’t be. You can follow the COVID-19 situation on the CDC website as well the NY Department of Health and the NYC Dept. of Health. These sites each have a number of links to more information.

Even though the risk in New York remains low now, we are not waiting for events to put us into motion. A large representative group met on campus this afternoon to discuss all the facets of life at Lehman College that could be impacted if COVID-19 spreads in New York City. In the coming days you will receive communications about the steps we will be taking as a result of our discussions. Some of those actions will take place this week, and there will likely be more in the coming week or two. We will be as prepared as possible, should we face a wider infection. I’ve been asked whether Lehman College might close, and my response is that we are working to be prepared for a number of possible contingencies, including that, but it is far too early to assume that will happen.

You should be taking some steps now, and they would make sense anyway, given that we are still in the middle of flu season. At the risk of seeming unwelcoming, greet others with an elbow bump instead of a handshake. Use respiratory etiquette and cover your coughs and sneezes with a sleeve. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. And if you develop any worrying symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. And don’t rush out and buy a facemask unless you are in a high-risk setting, like caring for an ill family member. Leave the masks for healthcare workers and others who may really need them.

We will communicate with you frequently in the coming weeks until the COVID-19 threat has passed. As always, we want you to have the key information as we have it, and to communicate what we know, not what some of us may fear.

For up-to-the-minute information, follow me @LehmanPresident on Twitter.

Daniel Lemons
@LehmanPresident


Feb. 28, 2020

Dear colleagues:

In light of the rapidly developing news related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), I wanted to share that in coordination with CUNY Central, we have been actively monitoring COVID-19 developments in New York City. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in New York City and the risk to New Yorkers remains low. But transmission of the virus in other countries and warnings from city and public health leaders to prepare for the virus here has reminded us the importance of keeping lines of communication open as the situation continues to evolve.

In the meantime, we are also in the midst of cold and flu season. The CDC and the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene recommend that for us all to stay in the best possible health we observe the following practices:

  • If you are sick, stay home. Anyone who is sick and experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness should stay home and definitely not come to campus until they are free of fever (body temperature consistently ≤100.4° F [37.8° C] using an oral thermometer, and while not having taken Tylenol or Aspirin which mask a fever).
  • If you are sneezing and/or coughing, please do so into a tissue and discard the tissue. If lacking a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • If you have international travel plans coming up, we advise you to check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for the country of travel. Specific information for travelers going to and returning from China can be found on the CDC website.

Please be assured that while there are currently no confirmed cases in New York, CUNY and Lehman College are taking this possible threat very seriously and we are actively making and updating plans to ensure employee and student safety, as well as continuity of our operations.

More guidance is available at the CDC website and up-to-date local data is available at the New York City Department of Health website dedicated to Coronavirus. I recommend checking both websites regularly for the most up to date developments with regard to the virus. The NYC Health Department is preparing for all possible scenarios, and we will continue to monitor and communicate with them about any potential impact to our campuses.

We will continue to communicate with you about our ongoing efforts regarding COVID-19.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

We also understand that some employees may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during this time. We want to remind you that CUNY’s Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) is available to work with employees toward addressing this. CUNY’s EAP may be reached at 1-888-993-7650 or www.deeroaks.com.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lemons
@LehmanPresident

April 30, 2020

Dear Students and Faculty:

Much of the world as we know it has changed. Less than six weeks ago, we moved very quickly to distance learning and work mode in order to address the disruptions and the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the institution, we have met regularly to conduct our work remotely, urgently balancing competing demands, and responding to the needs of our college and our community as best as we can. We have focused on ensuring that our students, faculty, and staff are safe. We have focused on ensuring that teaching and learning can continue for the rest of the semester through distance learning modality.

As we approach the final weeks of the spring semester, we have determined through consultations and conversations with Chairs and Deans, the Provost’s and Deans’ Council, the President’s Cabinet and the COVID-19 Response Team, as well as other stakeholders, that instruction will also continue through distance learning modality for Summer 2020, and indeed will continue online in Fall 2020 if conditions do not change. School deans and the leadership of our various divisions and units are urged to work with their faculty and staff members respectively to review their experiences from spring 2020 and make appropriate preparation for virtual delivery of instruction and services in summer and fall 2020. The Office of Online Education and the division of Information Technology will continue to provide support programs and professional development opportunities to further enhance our faculty and students’ preparation and readiness for virtual instruction and learning.

As we make these decisions, we will be informed by the guidance provided by CUNY on academic continuity and related matters. We are mindful that a response to the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are unlikely to remit until a widespread vaccine is available. The health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as the community we serve remain paramount in our thinking and planning.

Goals, Objectives, and Strategies

Making this decision now allows us time to focus on effective planning and preparation to ensure that both summer and fall 2020, as well as spring 2021, are successful. Our planning and preparation must be designed to meet three overarching goals:

  • Maximize flexibility and minimize disruption for faculty, staff, and students,
  • Maintain our commitment to Lehman’s educational mission and strategic priorities, and,
  • Protect students, faculty, staff and visitors while being responsive to the changing COVID-19 landscape.

To do this effectively and efficiently, the college seeks to achieve six objectives using the accompanying strategies listed under each objective. Think of the three goals, the six objectives and accompanying strategies as elements of a short-term strategic plan in response to the COVID-19 disruption. At all times, our plan will remain responsive and in alignment with accrediting bodies including NYSED, Middle States, NC-SARA, and those specific to programs.

Objective 1. Enhance the student experience in times of unprecedented disruption:

  1. Design, develop and implement preparation for students learning online (i.e. student orientation to online learning, and introduction to the online environment).
  2. Minimize registration and scheduling disruptions.
  3. Maximize flexibility, using the varied modalities, nontraditional scheduling, etc.
  4. Enhance digital dexterity and support student access to technology both on and off campus:
    1. Student access to laptops, Wi-Fi, etc.
    2. Student access to on-campus facilities (where possible)
  5. Maintain low density when on campus:
    1. Identify and test streaming services
    2. Purchase and utilize PPE, as appropriate
    3. Continue a mix of online and in-person administrative and instructional support units (advising, bursar, help desk) for the entire year
  6. Identify a single platform for advising across all units of the campus
  7. Use the CUNY-selected LMS as the initial mode of communication among faculty and students. Encourage all faculty to activate their Blackboard (BB) shell.
  8. Maximize across all members of the community the use of Lehman email and Office 365 as the primary form of communication and collaboration.
  9. Support novel ways to offer hands-on opportunities outside of the normal schedule
  10. Ensure that all technology support is compatible with the CUNY-selected LMS (currently BB).
  11. Work with chairs and deans to create a plan for lab-based, clinical, and field-based experiences.
  12. Enrollment Management Units (e.g. Director of Student Success and Strategic Persistence Initiatives) will continue to communicate and provide support to the deans and chairs and advisors.
  13. Student Affairs and Enrollment Management will provide the necessary support services in a virtual format in a way that is easily accessible, engages students, and links them to the Lehman community.
  14. Relax time constraints on course makeup, particularly for completing INC grades.

Objective 2. Enhance faculty and staff professional development and support:

  1. Ensure appropriate preparation and support for faculty teaching online, including the use of institutionally supported educational technologies to best practices for teaching online, i.e. CUNY 2-Week Online Workshop and Just in Time Teaching Online Training (Lehman’s expedited training for those teaching online because of COVID19).
  2. Provide ongoing support to faculty teaching online by means of a faculty mentoring program, instructional design consultations, workshops, and other support while continuing to assess faculty needs.
  3. Continue drop-in hours for all supported tools (Blackboard, MS Office 365, Teams) for the year.
  4. Have regularly scheduled workshops for pedagogical best practices in online and hybrid modes including institutionally supported educational technologies.
  5. Invest in faculty creation of tools and best practices in online and hybrid modalities.
  6. Ensure faculty are prepared to accommodate students with disabilities.
  7. Develop communication protocols that enable faculty to share best practices across departments, schools, and the college.
  8. Offer a robust summer development program to generate videos, other technology and pedagogical materials, including using the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) and the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) programs.
  9. Offer professional development workshops in creating Open Educational Resources (OER), online privacy, and posting scholarship to CUNY’s institutional repository, Academic Works.

Objective 3. Improve student learning outcomes and maintain academic quality/integrity across all modalities:

  1. Conduct student evaluations of teaching and learning (SETL) on a semester basis.
  2. Conduct teaching observations consistent with PSC CUNY guidelines in all modalities. The Office of Online Education will provide support for these observations.
  3. Implement (through increased training workshops) the college’s uniform 6-step process for assessment of student learning and support programs for academic and AES units.
  4. Invest in innovation in online and hybrid modalities
  5. Implement tools to verify student identities to ensure academic integrity for online examination procedures e.g. proctoring.
  6. Support high-quality online courses consistent with accreditation requirements by developing, piloting, and implementing quality assurance protocols.

Objective 4. Strengthen technology support, minimize hurdles, and create a safe environment:

  1. Reconfigure CUNYfirst to permit flexible shifts to either online or in-person modality (CUNYfirst already has the flexibility to indicate synchronous or asynchronous schedule by adding dates and times to the Fully Online modality, please consult the Registrar).
  2. Enable chairs to increase caps in response to enrollments without Dean approval.
  3. Support laptops for all college staff members to support a low-density workforce.
  4. Purchase and use PPE as appropriate, distribute hand sanitizer, and implement aggressive cleaning schedules.
  5. Invest in appropriate software that enhances instruction and remote digital activities.
  6. Continue the work of the Bronx Transfer Affinity Group (BTAG) and ensure seamless transfer of community college students to Lehman.

Objective 5. Support continued scholarship, creative works, research and discovery:

  1. Continue support for faculty writing and publication.
  2. Use “travel” funds to continue attendance at virtual conferences.
  3. Support grant writing in general but also exploring new funds for COVID-19 scientific and learning research.
  4. Enhance support of SoTL – particularly researching on teaching and learning in varied modalities.
  5. Support the use of technology and skills we are developing now to form research networks, community outreach, public scholarship.

Objective 6. Create a deeply caring and kind environment that prioritizes physical and emotional safety for all members (students, staff, faculty, community):

  1. Ensure the well-being of all members of the community, particularly students, by maintaining the food pantry and ensure access to free online, campus and community-based resources. In this instance, identify faculty, staff, and students to provide peer-based counseling and support; provide opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to receive training/PD in mental health first aid/self-care; and normalize and streamline the use of campus and community-based in person, online and phone-based support resources.
  2. Encourage sensitivity and flexibility when addressing student financial and academic challenges (i.e., late payments; poor grades) that may be exacerbated by the pandemic.
  3. Consider options for partnering with local organizations consistent with Lehman’s role as an anchor institution; enhance workforce development opportunities for people of the region.

Conclusion

Finally, I would like to extend deep appreciation to the members of the Task Force I established two weeks ago to review the Guidelines and to provide cost estimates for the strategies outlined above. The Task Force chaired by Interim Dean Pam Mills of the School of Natural and Social Sciences and co-chaired by Research and Sponsored Programs Director, Brandon Begarly, submitted a draft report last Friday. Other members of the group include division of Information Technology Vice President, Ronald Bergmann; Budget and Planning Director, Bethania Ortega; Online Education Director, Olena Zhadko; and, Director of Strategic Persistence Initiatives, Ronald Banks. Their work will greatly inform the next phase of our preparation and planning, which will be focused on first, ensuring a robust 4 and successful summer 2020, and second, a similar outcome for fall 2020. We will keep the college community apprised of the progress we make on our objectives and strategies.

Please continue to remain safe and well as we navigate this global pandemic. Together, we will overcome this challenge.

Regards,

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success


April 2, 2020

Dear Students and Faculty:

Below is the language approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees at its Monday, March 30, 2020 meeting regarding flexible grading policy for Spring 2020.

As part of The City University of New York’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the Spring 2020 semester, all students shall have the option to convert any or all of the (A-F) letter grades they earn in their classes, to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading.

  • During the Spring 2020 semester, all students shall have the option to convert any or all of the (A-F) letter grades they earn in their classes, to Credit/No Credit grading. 
  • Students shall be able to make this decision up to 20 business days after the University’s final grade submission deadline. Once selected, the CR/NC option cannot be reversed. 
  • If a student chooses to exercise this option, a passing letter grade (A, B, C, or D) will convert to ‘CR’ with credit for the class being awarded, while a failing grade (F) will convert to ‘NC’, with no credit awarded. Credit/No Credit grades will not impact the student’s GPA. 
  • Courses taken for a letter grade will continue to be included in the semester and general GPA, while courses taken for a Credit/Non-credit grade will be excluded, just as is the case with such courses taken at a student’s home institution. 
  • If a student exercises the option of Credit/No Credit, the Credit (CR) grade will not negatively impact the student’s satisfactory progress toward degree completion. 
  • Students with Credit/No Credit grades will be able to transfer those courses across colleges within CUNY, per current CUNY policy. 
  • The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall apply to coursework completed on Permit and will not affect Board of Trustees Policy 1.14 – Policy on Coursework Completed on Permit. 
  • Students placed on academic probation by their institution at the start of the Spring 2020 semester shall not be penalized with academic dismissal based upon their grades earned this semester.
  • The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall not affect the University standards of student retention and progress in accordance with Board of Trustees Policy 1.26. 
    10. Before choosing this grading option for one or more of their classes, students shall consult with their academic and financial aid advisors regarding potential impact to their financial aid, licensure requirements, and graduate school admissions. 
  • The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall supersede and override all undergraduate and graduate program-level grading policies currently in effect at CUNY colleges and schools, including those related to required and elective courses within the major, minor, general education (Pathways), pre-requisite courses, honors courses, courses taken on permit and maximum number of credits that a student can earn with Credit/No Credit grades. 
  • The grade glossary, attached to each transcript, will be updated to include a notation denoting that all Spring 2020 grades, including CR or NC, were earned during a major disruption to instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall apply to all CUNY colleges and schoolsexcept the School of Law and the School of Medicine, which may develop their own Pass/Fail policies, subject to approval of the Board of Trustees, to conform to norms in legal and medical education. 
  • The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy, which shall be effective April 1, 2020, applies to the Spring 2020 semester only and that the Chancellor, may, in his discretion, to meet public health emergency policies and practices, extend this policy to future semesters, if necessary and report such extension to the Board of Trustees immediately. 
  • The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall be codified in the Manual of General Policy as Policy 1.4. and cannot be overwritten by any individual units of the University, including presidents, provosts, or college councils. 
  • The policy will remain in effect for the Spring 2020 semester and will be reviewed by the Chancellor and extended as necessary to meet public health emergency policies and practices.

Regards,

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success


March 26, 2020

Dear Lehman Research Community (Faculty and Staff):

CUNY has provided guidance on research continuity across our 25 colleges. Please click on this link for more information. For additional information or clarification, please contact the Lehman Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at brandon.begarly@lehman.cuny.edu.

For additional information on use of human subjects, please contact our campus HRPP Coordinator, Lisa Peralta, at lisa.peralta@lehman.cuny.edu.   PIs should notify her also of any changes in research procedures and submit all HRPP/IRB modifications via IDEATE. For PIs submitting new protocols, data collection protocols should be for remote data collection only. Protocols may also include in-person data collection for some future time, when guidance for remote collection is removed CUNY-wide.

Please continue to stay safe and take care of yourself.

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success


March 18, 2020

Dear Lehman Community,

In light of the increasing concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread and impact it has on students' learning performance, CUNY's Office of the University Registrar has authorized the following adjustments to the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 Academic Calendar. The following changes are outlined below and take effect immediately.

  • Last Day to File for Pass/No Credit/Fail Option –For eligible students that meet the requirements of our “Pass/Fail/No Credit Option” policy, (See Policy Here), the University will move the deadline to Thursday, May 14, 2020. This is the published “Last Day of Classes,” and before final examination week, and also prior to the “End of the Spring Term.”

    *See note below on possible financial aid impact on students.
    • Course Withdrawal Period – Last Day to Drop with a Grade of “W.” The current deadline date listed on the calendar is Wednesday, April 1, 2020. We will move that date to Thursday, May 14, 2020. This is the published “Last Day of Classes,” and before final examination week and also prior to the “End of the Spring Term.”
  • Incomplete Grades – Students who receive an INC grades in the Spring 2020 term would generally be required to submit outstanding work, “according to a deadline established by individual colleges of the University but no later than the last day of the following semester.” The University will allow students to submit incomplete work to faculty for resolution of INC grades for courses taken in Spring 2020 through the Fall 2020 semester, and the new deadline for faculty to submit Incomplete to Grade forms to the Registrar’s Office for resolution will be Wednesday, December 23, 2020. This date coincides with the “Final Grade Submission Deadline” for Fall 2020 courses. (To view the updated Fall 2020 Academic Calendar Click Here).

*Note on Pass/No Credit/Fail Option: Students should consult with their academic and financial aid advisor to confirm if this option will still allow them to count the course towards their major/degree requirements, if credit is earned with a grade of P.

In order to receive this grade, a student needs to continue participating in academic related activities, complete all assignments, and take the final exam/culminating experience.

If a passing letter grade is earned, the student will receive a grade of ‘P’, credit for the course, and no impact on the GPA. If a failing grade is earned (F), the student will receive a grade of NP and no impact on the GPA.

Students must remain in compliance with Federal and State Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines.

http://www.lehman.edu/registrar/calendars.php


March 14, 2020

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I am writing to advise you of two additional Blackboard workshops this coming Monday and Wednesday that will be available online for remote viewing.

The workshops focus on activating your Blackboard course shell and adding course content to your Blackboard course. They will be presented by Steve Castellano at stephen.castellano@lehman.cuny.edu.

Please use the links below to enter the online workshop:

Monday, March 16th from 11 am to 12 pm
Join Zoom Meeting:
https://lehman.zoom.us/j/880806278
Meeting ID: 880 806 278
Dial-in (for audio): +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)

Wednesday, March 18th from 11 am to 12 pm
Join Zoom Meeting:
https://lehman.zoom.us/j/360324457
Meeting ID: 360 324 457
Dial-in (for audio): +1 646 876 9923 (New York)

For additional information, please see the faculty resource page on the Lehman virus update site at http://lehman.edu/coronavirus/faculty.php

Best wishes and stay safe.
-P

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success


March 12, 2020

Yesterday, the University announced the implementation of a comprehensive transition to distance education for all CUNY schools for the remainder of the semester beginning March 19. This announcement was followed up with a message from President Lemons to the campus community. As part of this transition, no on-campus classes will be held from March 12-18. Most classes will move to distance learning on March 19 for the remainder of the spring semester. The College will remain open, and this includes the library, our dormitory, research facilities, daycare center, and labs.

We know this is a very stressful time for everyone; that includes your families, friends, and loved ones, as well as other faculty members, our students, staff, and administration. Please understand that COVID-19 is a crisis we would wish didn’t come and that none of us is responsible for. In times like this, it is very important that we take care of ourselves and each other, and that we remain united and committed to our mission of educating our students and serving our community.

As you know, we have been in planning mode for the last two weeks. Since then, we have provided information to the college community, which include an extensive number of resources for transitioning to distance learning. See section 2 of this memo on resources.

Here are additional steps we recommend that you utilize in case you are not already using a distance learning delivery modality:

Incremental Approach
    • It is not possible to recreate the remaining 8 weeks of an entire 15-week syllabus designed for in-person instruction into distance learning in less than a week. Thus, we strongly recommend that you take one step at a time, use an incremental approach.
    • First, think in terms of intervals. What can I do in one week in terms of the course material beginning March 19, when instruction through distance learning mode commences? Then build on the course material each succeeding week. Don’t plan to have everything that needs to be done during the next 8 weeks planned during this one week of instructional recess. Use the instructional recess period to plan for the first or second week of instruction; then make adjustments as you learn.
    • Second, think of what you expect students to know for the rest of the semester, and focus on those key learning outcomes.
    • Third, be sure you explain to your students during the first day of distance learning instruction why you have taken the approach you are taking. Address their concerns and reduce their fears. Remember, for some of your students, this may be the first time they too are learning through distance learning mode.
    • Attached is a set of recommendations from Macaulay Honors College on what faculty can do as they prepare to transition online.

Resources
  • Additionally, Academic Affairs is identifying one to two Faculty Mentors with experience in distance to be assigned to each of our four academic schools to assist faculty who may need further technical assistance with Blackboard and related resources. We will provide you with the names and contact information for these faculty mentors as soon as we finalize recruitment process with Human Resources. We are also working on procuring additional online proctor services to enhance the ability of faculty to assure course integrity and quality in a distance learning environment. We will provide this information when it becomes available.
  • In instances where a course includes a lab, performance, internships, and clinicals, please be sure to discuss with your chair, who will reach out to the dean of your school about an appropriate approach. The deans and I have had discussions about how we move forward in addressing these instances in order to have a uniform approach that supports both the faculty and students’ needs.
Privacy and Access
    • As always, please be mindful of student privacy and issues of access. The following links will be helpful:
    • A FERPA workshop is being planned by Human Resources and the Office of General Counsel and will be announced as soon as possible.
    • While faculty members may choose other distance learning alternative delivery modes, they should ensure that the delivery mode selected is compatible with CUNYfirst, which is the University’s official mode of communication with students.
Monitoring, Tracking and Reporting COVID-19
    • Because information is moving and changing rapidly, we are encouraging each faculty member to be vigilant and to report any suspected exposure with potential implications for the campus community immediately to the department chair, who will escalate the issue to the respective school dean, and then to the provost. We are coordinating our efforts with CUNY as well as Borough, City, and State officials to reduce exposure and minimize risk to campus personnel.

Finally, these are challenging times. As provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Student Success, our main concern remains to ensure the health and safety of our faculty, students, and staff, while safeguarding and maintaining the quality and integrity of our academic programs. On behalf of President Lemons and our college community, I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we go through these challenging times. I also want to thank you for your dedication and diligence in making the crucial adjustments we are requesting in the service of our mission of transforming lives and igniting new possibilities.


March 12, 2020

Yesterday, CUNY announced that there will be no in-person classes on campus from March 12-18. Most classes will be taught through distance education for the remainder of the spring semester, but the College, dormitory, libraries, research facilities, daycare center and laboratories will remain open. Instruction through distance learning will resume on March 19.
Please take the following immediate steps (if you have not) to avoid minimal disruption to your academic progress:

Distance Learning Student Notification
  • Instructors will be contacting you through your Lehman email account and Blackboard on a regular basis. Please ensure that your campus email is listed correctly in Blackboard, which may be done through the ‘Start Here’ section on your Blackboard course.
Library Resources
  • A wide array of resources is available to you through The Leonard Lief Library, which will remain open and accessible to students who do not have access to internet and/or smart devices. In addition, a reference librarian will be available 24 hours per day.
Health and Wellness
  • Please utilize the resources that are available to you at the Counseling Center, the Student Health Center, and Student Life. These offices will be open.
  • The Lehman Food Bank will remain open to service the needs of our students.
  • The Food Bank of New York has a list of pantries in your neighborhood based on zip codes
  • Temporary housing may be available through Temporary Housing Assistance
  • Because information is moving and changing rapidly, we are encouraging each student to be vigilant and to report any suspected exposure with potential implications for the campus community immediately to your department chair, who will escalate the issue to the respective school dean, and then to the chief academic officer.

The most important priority for me as your chief academic officer (provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Student Success), is the wellbeing of all students, faculty and staff. I want to thank you for your patience and understanding through these challenging times. Let’s continue to be kind to each other and remember that we are all part of the Lehman family.


March 12, 2020

Recommendations for Teaching in Distance Modality

Please see the following recommendations from Joseph Ugoretz, Ph.D, Senior Associate Dean and Chief Academic Officer Macaulay Honors College.

March 10, 2020

Dear Faculty:

I am writing to share additional updates following yesterday’s meeting with the Department Chairs and Deans as we prepare for the possibility of teaching remotely in the event of a COVID-19 pandemic. Please note the following:

  1. Your Blackboard Course Shell - Many of you have asked for information on how to activate a Blackboard course shell.  To assist you, we have prepared a short video with instructions. Additionally, please follow these steps: Go to your Course CONTROL PANEL > Select CUSTOMIZATION > Look for PROPERTIES and finally, look for SET AVAILABILITY and simply change NO to YES and Submit! See this PDF for step-by-step instructions. In order for students to access the course, the instructor needs to make it available to them by following the instructions. If the course is not available, students will not be able to access your course materials. You can also view this video on uploading course material to Blackboard.
  2. Blackboard Training : The next workshop for faculty new to Blackboard will be held on Thursday, March 12th from 11 am to 12 pm, in Carman B-38 in person. Additional informational guides and instructional videos will be posted for later viewing. For more information or for support, please contact Stephen Castellano at stephen.castellano@lehman.cuny.edu.
  3. Electronic Instruction: In addition to online resources, some faculty members may want to use low bandwidth methods to provide student instruction. Assignments, reading materials and PowerPoint presentations can be sent by email to students. Video meetings can be held using Microsoft Office 365/Teams or Zoom (sign-up for free with you Lehman email). An MS Teams quick start guide is also available for your reference. Additionally, consult the FAQs for Faculty Going Online in a Hurry.
  4. Departmental Communications: As necessary, Deans and Department Chairs may hold audio conferences with faculty to keep them informed, solicit feedback and suggestions. While we are exploring other options, faculty may want to consider Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or no-cost third party tools such as FreeConferenceCall.com (please disable audio recordings to insure privacy).
  5. Faculty Support: An addition to the Lehman COVID-19 website will be available tomorrow and will include a centralized listing of faculty instructional guides and resources. Should the college decide to move to remote instruction, IT staff will be available to provide assistance with Blackboard and other technologies. Support technicians can be reached at faculty.help@lehman.cuny.edu.

-P

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success


March 9, 2020

Dear Students:

As Lehman College plans for the potential impact of the COVID-19 virus, the safety of our college community is our top priority. We want to keep you informed as planning continues to ensure the ongoing delivery of classes at the college.

We know that this could be a difficult period and are committed to student health and wellness. As such, please take advantage of the resources of Lehman’s Counseling Center and Student Health Center as well as our Student Life center.

Although many students have smart phones - and can view videos and course content on a small screen, we are mindful that not all students have home computers. If needed, we are exploring the possibility of loaning a very limited supply of tablets and laptops to students. Within the guidelines of the University, we expect that instructors will be understanding and take actions in the best interest of students.

Below is a preliminary list of recommended resources to ensure that teaching, learning and collaboration can take place online in the event that college operations are temporarily impacted.

    1. Student Notifications

      • In the event of college-wide operational issues or closings, messages will be sent through CUNY Alert, via college-wide emails, and a banner on the Lehman home page. In addition, social media messages will be sent, along with notices on Lehman 360, the main college phone line, and the Lehman mobile app.
      • Your instructors will contact you by email, so please review your Lehman email account on a regular basis. In addition, instructors will email you via Blackboard. Please ensure that your campus email address is correct in Blackboard. Visit the “START HERE” section of a Blackboard course to update your email address. Once updated for one class, the change will be for all of your courses.
    2. Working from Off-campus

      Should it be necessary to hold classes remotely, the college will make use of existing online tools and want to be sure that you are prepared:

    1. Blackboard

      • Blackboard is CUNY’s learning management system – it’s an online platform that brings course material, discussion groups, videos, assignments, and other content to your computer or mobile device.
      • New to Blackboard? Start with CUNY’s Blackboard help center. Additional Blackboard resources can be found on the Blackboard help page and on the Lehman Blackboard website.
      • In the event you need to complete a quiz on Blackboard, it is recommended to do so on a computer using Firefox, if possible. If using public wi-fi, be aware that your time on the network may be limited by the service provider.
      • CUNY Blackboard complies with web content accessibility guidelines and functions with screen readers such as ZOOM and Browse Aloud.
    1. Library Resources

    1. Cloud File Storage & Collaboration

      • Students have 1 TB of online storage and sharing on Microsoft Office 365/One Drive.
      • There is also limited cloud storage available for students on Dropbox. Please login with your CUNY credentials.
    1. Video Conferencing

      • In addition to video chat capabilities on your Apple or Android device, students can sign-up for a no-cost Zoom basic license with their Lehman email address. Please note that free licenses are limited to group meetings of up to 40 minutes and 100 participants.
  1. Other Resources

    • Lehman’s login page includes links to the most widely used Lehman and CUNY resources.
    • Find additional CUNY digital resources available for faculty, students, and staff.
    • Lehman’s new chatbot, while still a pilot, is a resource for answering many college-related questions, 24x7.

Should you require assistance regarding the use of these or other technologies, please contact the IT helpdesk at help.desk@lehman.cuny.edu.

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success


March 5, 2020

Dear colleagues:

We are following up with my March 3, 2020, email to faculty regarding Covid-19. The Office of the Provost and Division of Administration and Finance have partnered with the Information Technology Division to ensure that all students, faculty and staff have access to the resources they need in the event that the college needs to hold classes or work remotely.

A.   Teaching Remotely

The following are additional steps for preparing to teach remotely for a period of time:

  1. Please confirm that you can communicate remotely with all of your students.
  2. Immediately be sure you have the digital tools in hand that you need to conduct your class remotely in minimally acceptable way, i.e. BlackBoard activated.
  3. Review your syllabus and consider how to account for a 2-3 week hiatus.
  4. At the next class meeting, review contingency plans with students:
    • Find out who does not have remote computer access or no smart phone or tablet.
    • Get students to put the BlackBoard app on their phones and then test it immediately.
  5. With each successive class meeting on campus, review any changes in plans and keep rolling the contingencies for assignments, quizzes, exams forward, as if that would be the last on campus class meeting for 2-4 weeks.

B.   Recommended Resources

Below is a preliminary list of recommended resources to ensure that teaching and learning and collaboration can take place online.

Notification Processes: Lehman has an established approach for notifying the community in the event of college-wide operational issues. These include the use of CUNY Alert, college-wide emails, a banner on the Lehman home page, social media messages, notices on Lehman 360, the main college phone line, and the mobile app. Please also note that Lehman’s new chatbot, while still a pilot, is a resource for answering many college-related questions, 24x7.

Departments have their own group email lists or listservs for internal communication, and faculty can contact students regarding class-related information via email, Blackboard,Lehman 360, or CUNYfirst. Please remind students to regularly review their Lehman email account.

  1. Blackboard Resources for Faculty:
    • Blackboard - Learn more about how to use Blackboard to support student learning by reviewing recommendations and resources from the Office of Online Education.Faculty can also complete an online self-paced Blackboard Basics tutorial.
    • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a video conferencing tool available from within your Blackboard course site. For those interested in meeting online in real-time with students, learn more about using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
    • Additional Blackboard resources can be found on the Blackboard help page and the Lehman Blackboard page.
    • Please note that certain assessments may need to be optimized to work well on mobile devices. A video guide is forthcoming.
  2. Blackboard Workshops:
    • As you may know, Blackboard “course shells” are automatically created for every Lehman course for which a student can register. Next week, we will hold the first of several workshops for faculty interested in activating their course shell as well as for those needing a refresher. Topics will cover ways to facilitate online instruction, how to post assignments and materials, how to use discussion boards, adding videos, and more.
    • These workshops will be held in Carman Hall, Room B-38 on Monday March 9th from 12 – 1 pm, Tuesday March 10th from 3 to 4 pm, and Thursday, March 12th from 11 am to 12 pm. Additional informational guides and instructional videos will also be posted for later viewing. Please contact Steve Castellano for more information or for support at stephen.castellano@lehman.cuny.edu.
    • Although many students have smart phones - and can view videos and content on a small screen - we need to be mindful that not all students have home computers; others may have limited wi-fi and data plans. The college is exploring ways to loan a very limited supply of tablets and laptops to students, if needed.
  3. Resources for Faculty and Staff Departmental Collaboration:
    • Microsoft Office 365 for Education MS Office 365 is a robust collaboration suite provided by CUNY to all faculty and staff. Among the many available apps, “Teams” is especially useful as a shared workspace for video conferencing and team collaboration. “OneDrive” allows faculty and staff to store and share documents in the cloud. “Forms” is a lightweight resource to gather feedback and conduct surveys. Access MS O365 here using your CUNYfirst username and password. More information can be found on the MS O365 for Education support site.
    • Video Conferencing – As mentioned above, Microsoft Teams, via Office 365 provides useful video collaboration capabilities. Faculty and staff can also sign-up for a no-cost Zoom basic license with their Lehman email address. Please note that free licenses are limited to group meetings of up to 40 minutes and 100 participants. The college also has a limited number of Zoom Pro licenses (unlimited time for group meetings). These can be requested though the Office of Online Education, subject to availability. CUNY Central is also exploring additional video conferencing solutions and we will update you as we obtain further information.
  4. Other Resources:
    • Lehman’s comprehensive login page includes links to the most widely used Lehman and CUNY resources.
    • A wide variety of library resources can be accessed remotely via theLibrary’s website.
    • Find additional CUNY digital resources available for faculty, students, and staff.
    • In addition to 100GB of online storage and sharing capabilities available on Microsoft Office 365/One Drive, faculty and staff have unlimited online storage available on Dropbox. Login with your CUNY credentials and please review the Acceptable Use Policy to ensure that online storage is not used for confidential information.
    • Limited Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity is available for key offices that require access to office desktops, sensitive data, and listservs from off-campus. To ensure remote access, we encourage that all non-sensitive data be stored on CUNY’s Office 365 or Dropbox offerings, as noted above.
  5. A Note About Accessibility:
    • CUNY Blackboard is accessible to all students and faculty regardless of ability or situation. Blackboard complies with web content accessibility guidelines and Section 508 standards and functions with screen readers such as ZOOM and Browse Aloud. Ensuring accessible content will be reviewed in our workshops. Anyone requiring assistance may contactstephen.castellano@lehman.cuny.edu. Microsoft Office 365 is also committed to inclusive design and has built accessibility checks into their products.
    • Should you require additional support or assistance regarding the use of these or other technologies, please feel free to contact ronald.bergmann@lehman.cuny.edu or ediltrudys.ruiz@lehman.cuny.edu.

March 3, 2020

Dear Lehman College Faculty,

Last night, President Lemons sent a detailed email to the Lehman campus community regarding COVID-19. While there is no imminent threat to the college, we continue to make preparations should the situation escalate and impact campus operations. Information on prevention and symptoms are also available from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. We are also developing a new section on our website that will provide updates, resources, as well as related policies and communications.

Faculty Role

Because our faculty play a critical role in our teaching and learning functions, we are recommending additional steps in the event that the situation begins to impact campus operations:

  1. Should the situation escalate and classes on campus are not able to be held, we are examining options for leveraging technology to support remote instruction. Begin to think about how you would keep your course on track if it were not possible to hold classes on campus for a period of time. We will be following up in the coming days with a set of possible mechanisms you might use, but as the instructor you would still have to determine how to structure topic coverage, assignments, quizzes, exams and other elements of your course.
  2. Learn more on what you can do now to prepare ahead of time by reviewing recommendations and resources from the Office of Online Education. In addition, most library resources can be accessed remotely via the Library’s website.
  3. The Division of Information Technology is currently working on preparing additional resources to support students and faculty, which will be available on Thursday, March 5, 2020.
  4. Please make sure that your contact information is up to date in CUNYfirst and on departmental lists. Employee instructions are here. It is possible that we will need to reach you with important information during off hours or weekends.
  5. In case you need to reach your students, please ask that they also update their contact information on CUNYfirst and provide this to you immediately. Student instructions are here.
  6. As a precautionary measure, any faculty member who is feeling ill and those who may have had contact with someone exposed to the virus should stay home. We ask you to accommodate students, to the extent practicable, should they be unable to attend class due to illness.
  7. Please direct students with counseling and health-related questions to the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center.
  8. For additional information or clarification, please contact your respective department chair or dean.

Thank you for your cooperation and know that we will provide updated information as it becomes available.

-P

Peter O. Nwosu, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success

July 20, 2020

 

back to top