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Lehman College: City University of New York
November 23, 2016

A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz

Happy Thanksgiving! The landscape we face today is much different than it was back when I last communicated with you, but the reality is that we have much to be grateful for. I for one continue to feel privileged to be part of this great campus community and welcome the opportunity to share with you some of the many ways in which we are advancing our College’s mission and delivering on our institutional priorities.

External Relations and Campus Conversations

On Friday, November 18th, I attended the White House Summit on Postsecondary Diversity and Inclusion and served on a panel about how colleges and universities can build a culture of inclusivity. I was honored to join the president of Columbia University and the chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark on this panel. But the highlight was on my way out of the event, when I bumped into several student leaders from our Herbert H. Lehman Center for Student Leadership Development, who were coincidentally visiting Washington D.C. for a tour of the White House.

A few days before the summit, I joined a few college presidents for a wonderful conversation with Dr. Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges Universities. We discussed how the changing leadership in Washington, D.C. could impact educational policies and practices and discussed ways to position our respective institutions for success. I took the opportunity to describe our campus’ special post-election “educate, engage and empower” panel to navigate the landscape ahead and how this was the first of a series of planned campus conversations on this front.

Taking a break from the national conversation, on November 16th, I met with Michael Spierman, the artistic director of the Bronx Opera company. We discussed the long association between the Bronx Opera and Lehman College, and ways in which we could collaborate in the future. We also discussed the importance of the arts in education, our mutual admiration of cellist Pablo Casals, and the role of higher education institutions as beacons of hope in their communities.

And on Saturday, November 12th, I attended my first Somos el Futuro Conference in Puerto Rico. There I served on a panel entitled “Closing the Hispanic Opportunity Gap: The Role of Policymakers and Higher Education Institutions.” I joined the interim president of the University of Puerto Rico System, the president of Queens College, and the College Board’s senior Director of Government Relations, on a discussion about the many and varied ways in which higher education institutions are doing their part to successfully expand opportunity to Hispanic students in K-12 schools and how these efforts can be improved, scaled, and replicated through regional, state, and national policy initiatives. A summary of my remarks were presented as an opinion piece in City and State.

Personnel Updates

On November 4th, I announced various personnel transitions and mentioned that, moving forward, we would explore opportunities to better align our organizational structure with our institutional priorities.

Today, I want to update you on our progress to date.

First, as an initial effort to sharpen the focus of the Division of Institutional Advancement towards development and philanthropy, the directors of the Performing Arts Center and the Art Gallery are now reporting to Mr. Vincent Clark, vice president of administration and finance.

Second, the search for our College’s new Special Counsel is well underway. The search committee interviewed semifinalists last week and has identified four strong finalists who will visit our campus for a second round of interviews in December. Special Counsel Mary Rogan has graciously provided assistance to this important effort.

Third, Vice President José M. Magdaleno has submitted the position description for Lehman’s new Dean of Students to CUNY for posting. More details regarding the search process will be forthcoming.

Fourth, Interim Provost Harriet Fayne has begun a series of conversations on how to best organize the work of her office in relation to that of the schools and academic departments. As part of this effort, Provost Fayne and Vice Provost Davina Porock will host open forums at the Faculty Lounge (Carmen Café, CA-185C) on Monday, December 5th and Thursday, December 8th from 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Strategic Investments

Finally, I am pleased to announce that, after careful consideration and consultation, I have approved investments totaling $807,420 to advance many of the operational priorities and strategic initiatives highlighted by Provost Fayne in her November 17th prioritization update.

The financial landscape that lies ahead is uncertain at best, but I am confident that these investments—made possible by our College’s healthy enrollment levels, sustained fiscal discipline, and the hard work of our faculty and staff—will accelerate our progress and position us well for the challenges that lie ahead.

Approved investments in operational priorities include phased upgrades of faculty office space (starting with Gillet Hall); computer lab upgrades; replacement of outdated computers for faculty and staff; and improvements to wireless access in Shuster Hall. A complete list of approved operational investments is available here.

Approved investments in strategic initiatives include enhanced support services for faculty teaching online and hybrid courses and for initiatives that will accelerate progress on our strategic goals in the areas of excellence in teaching, research and learning; enhanced student success; greater institutional and financial effectiveness; and commitment to engagement and community service. A complete list of approved strategic investments is available here. Additional funds will be allocated by Provost Fayne to promising projects identified via consultation with department chairs.

I hope that you share my excitement about these investments and the impact they will have on our college community. Please know that we will work to ensure that they are managed fully and effectively and will keep you posted on our progress.

Here’s wishing you and yours a most wonderful Thanksgiving. May it be filled with lightness and laughter; gratitude and joy. I look forward to seeing you back on campus next week, fully energized and recommitted to the hard, but important work that lies ahead.

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