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Lehman College: City University of New York
November 7, 2016

A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz

The colors of autumn are in full blossom here on campus. Students and faculty are hunkering down as the semester’s final stretch is now in view, while staff and administrators are consumed with meeting important deadlines and deliverables. In short, we are all now leveraging the momentum generated to date to accelerate progress in the individual and collective priorities we have identified for the current academic year. Below, an image of what this has looked like for me since the last time I communicated with you.

Public Affairs and External Relations

I have continued meeting and consulting our public partners, the elected officials who serve the many different constituencies of the Bronx; officials such as Assembly members José Rivera and Jeffrey Dinowitz; State Senator Adriano Espaillat; and City Council Members such as Fernando Cabrera, Andrew Cohen, and Annabel Palma.

I’ve also met officials such as Olga Luz Tirado from the Bronx Tourism Council, Marlene Cintrón of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., and Viviana Abreau of 1199 SEIU, which represents the borough’s many healthcare workers. At each meeting we discussed ways to increase the collaborative efforts of both Lehman College and their organizations to promote the Bronx. I also met with our partners at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College—annually ranked as the top high school in the Empire State and one of the best in the country, and spoke with Christopher Rizzo, who heads up the Friends of Van Cortland Park, the beautiful 1,146-acre green space that adds so much to our borough.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Elías Alcántara, a very proud Bronxite and Lehman alumnus who now serves as the Senior Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, when he was in New York. As many of you know, Elias was instrumental in helping to bring President Barack Obama to Lehman College in May 2015 for his historic visit, where the President launched his My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

And I have spent important time with friends of Lehman College, including Jaime Lucero, an entrepreneur and the namesake of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute, and the Chair of the Lehman College Foundation Board of Trustees, Myrna Rivera, who was in attendance at a lovely cocktail reception that was held at the Manhattan apartment of Wendy Lehman Lash, the granddaughter of our namesake Herbert H. Lehman. It was a wonderful evening, where Wendy and her family graciously opened their home to me. I also attended the St. George’s Society annual gala where I met with members of their organization, which has been a valuable partner to the College, offering important financial support to our mission.

Celebrations, Friendraising, and Fundraising

Last month I also attended my first Lehman Foundation Leadership Dinner at the beautiful New York Botanical Gardens with my wife Dr. Rima Brusi. I was so proud to see various members of the Board of Trustees there, meet our inspiring students, and to be on hand to help acknowledge this year’s honorees: John Collins, the head coach of the Badger Swim Club who has trained multiple Olympians in The APEX; Dr. Nader J. Sayegh (’73), the President of the Yonkers Board of Education; Milton Nuñez, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln Medical Center; and Jeffrey Menkes (’74), the Systems Senior VP of Network Development of Montefiore Medical Center. The evening helped raise $410,000 for the Foundation, which distributes needed scholarships to students.

Last month I also attended some Hispanic Heritage Month events, one at Westchester Community College and one here at Lehman. At both events, the richness of the many Latino cultures that are at the heart of our multicultural community was on display. At the Lehman event I was also able to acknowledge the work and dedication of our own Dr. Gerardo Piña-Rosales, who is retiring after decades of service as a valued faculty member of the Literatures and Languages department.

The last two weeks have seen a surfeit of events here on campus, many of which I had the pleasure of attending. From the tutor appreciation luncheon to the ribbon-cutting for our renovated student health center in the Old Gym building to the opening night reception for our wonderful new exhibit, “Bedazzled” at the Lehman Art Gallery. I also attended the Kingdom of La India concert at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. And I was able to attend the Senior Day jersey presentation ceremonies for our Lehman Lightning Women’s Tennis and Soccer Teams.

University Meetings

I have also been representing Lehman College at many meetings at CUNY’s central office. We had our monthly Council of President’s meeting where I spoke to my fellow CUNY presidents about new ways to collaborate; I attended this month’s CUNY Board of Trustees, I had a one-on-one meeting with Vice Chancellor Brian Cohen where we discussed possible collaboration in various information technology projects, and attended a reception for Mary Pearl, the new dean of Macaulay Honors College, with whom I discussed plans to expand Lehman’s participation in the Macaulay Honors program. Finally, I attended the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Committee formed by Chancellor Milliken to inform the business process redesign and administrative efficiencies work recently commissioned to McKinsey & Co.

College Meetings

Also last month I delivered a presentation to the Lehman College community, in the Lovinger Theatre, where I described the power of intentionality in driving improvements in student success. As I mentioned in Convocation address back in September, this is one of our main priorities this year—to increase graduation rates, narrow achievement gaps, and reduce the amount of time it takes our students to graduate.

Finally, as I have done these last two months, I have been making my rounds meeting the many dedicated members of the administration. I have met with our SGA/SLA student leaders, presided over F P&B meetings, hosted a PSC Labor Management Meeting, and attended the director’s meetings of our College’s various divisions. I look forward to continued conversations with each and every one of you.

Sincerely,

José Luis Cruz, Ph.D.
President, Lehman College
The City University of New York