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Lehman College: City University of New York
December 12, 2017

A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz
The fall semester certainly has moved swiftly, and we’ve worked diligently, despite the bleak political climate, to advance our mission. I am grateful to work alongside you to expand our College’s reach and impact. Today, on the last day of classes of our fall 2017 semester, I welcome the opportunity to share with you some of my recent activities in support of this effort, and mark some important campus achievements.

Advancing 90x30

In my November 7 message to the campus, I presented the priorities that are guiding our work through the end of this academic year along with an update on our efforts to set the strong foundation required to meet our 90x30 challenge. At the time, I promised to share a compilation of questions I am most frequently asked about 90x30. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have posted an initial list of high-level FAQs here. And I am pleased to share that we have continued to bring attention to our 90x30 efforts via a recent Huffington Post piece titled “Higher Education: A Key to the Bronx Renaissance” and recent appearances on WABC-TV’s Tiempo with Joe Torres and CUNY-TV’s The New York Times Close Up with Sam Roberts.

Elevating Lehman’s Voice

During the past month, I was proud to represent the College at several events that focused on issues important to Lehman: human rights, immigration reform, and higher education policy.

Immigration Reform

Late last month, I traveled to Capitol Hill to participate in a series of meetings with congressional leaders to advocate for a permanent legislative solution for our nation’s DREAMers. This effort was organized by the KIPP Foundation and The Education Trust. Earlier in the month, I traveled to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to attend the Forum & President’s Convening on Higher Education and Immigration to discuss what colleges and universities can do to protect immigrant students and advocate for them. The discussions that transpired in the convening led to the establishment of the Presidential Alliance for Immigration Policy, a new research and advocacy organization that will focus on “increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses and communities” and supporting “policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented, and international students on our campuses.” As a founding president of this alliance, I look forward to the urgent work ahead.

Higher Ed Policy

As part of our efforts to ensure that the values advanced by Lehman College and urban-serving colleges and universities across our nation inform the federal policies that impact our work, on November 16, I was pleased to serve as a panelist in the “Innovation in the Transition from High School to and through College” plenary session of the Education Reform Now National Conference in Washington, D.C. The following day, I attended my first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) since being elected to the board earlier in the month. And on November 30, we were pleased to welcome a team from the American Council on Education for a day-long visit to our campus to learn more about our utilization of data, business intelligence and analytics to drive decision-making and improve student success.

The Humanitarian Crisis in Puerto Rico

On October 28, I offered welcoming remarks to the attendees of the Rebuild Puerto Rico Conference, sponsored by the Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA) and CUNY’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro). The conference’s goals were to assess strategies and to support initiatives related the post-hurricane humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. On November 27, I attended the Teach-in on Climate Change & Climate Justice: The Crisis in Puerto Rico hosted by the PSC Lehman Chapter Environmental Justice Support Group. Last week, I offered welcome remarks at the Crisis in the Eye of the Hurricane: Understanding Puerto Rico’s Crisis event hosted by Lehman’s Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies. The thoughtful and provocative discussions in these events have informed the work of the Council of Presidents Ad Hoc Committee on Puerto Rico Relief Efforts that I have the privilege of co-chairing with President Félix Matos Rodríguez of Queens College.

Lehman Abroad

Looking to expand opportunities for our students and faculty, Dr. Teresita Levy, director of International Programs and Global Partnerships, and I joined Congressman Adriano Espaillat and a number of SUNY and CUNY officials on a series of visits to higher education institutions in the Dominican Republic. We met with Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina, plus several education and business leaders, to discuss the possibility of strengthening our higher education ties. Currently, Dr. Levy is working with colleagues in Lehman’s School of Education and representatives from several universities in the Dominican Republic on a possible teacher training program in STEM areas to take place as early as summer 2018.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts Groundbreaking

For 37 years, the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts has been entertaining, educating and inspiring residents of the Bronx and the region with world-class, culturally diverse performances. Late last month we broke ground to kick off a $15.4 million renovation of the Center. We were joined by CUNY leaders and elected officials to celebrate the addition of nearly 5,600-square-feet of space that will include an expanded and stunning glass box office. The renovation is estimated to take 18 months and will add new administrative offices and restroom facilities and an elevator. The project will ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Center will continue operations during this time.

Organizational Updates

Our College continues to make progress on the search processes underway to fill several important leadership positions. Our search for a vice president of Institutional Advancement is nearing completion—three candidates were interviewed by the advisory committee yesterday. The provost search committee is scheduling interviews with potential candidates and expects finalists to interview on campus in February; an update from the search committee co-chairs, Prof. Vincent Prohaska and Vice President Ron Bergmann, will be forthcoming. And job descriptions have been posted for the positions of dean of the School of Education, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. Information regarding the composition of the search committees for each of these dean positions will be forthcoming.

Celebrating Excellence

Since my last communication, there have been many reasons to celebrate the excellence that characterizes the work of our students, faculty, and staff. Below, I present but a few examples.

Lehman’s Outstanding Achievement/Teacher and Adjunct of the Year Awards Luncheon was held on November 15 at the Art Gallery, and it was my great pleasure to acknowledge the superb work of this year’s honorees. The Outstanding Contributions to the College Award recipients are: Elizabeth Duran (Buildings & Grounds), Manny Garcia (CUNY on the Concourse) and Melissa Kirk (Office of the Provost). Professor Duane Tananbaum (History) was teacher of the year, and Professor Martin Gitterman (Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences) was adjunct of the year.

Jane MacKillop, interim dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, was recently named 2017’s IT Collaboration Award for pioneering use of its Student Success Dashboard and Lehman 360 at the CUNY IT Conference on November 30. Congratulations to our faculty, staff and IT team!

Also, congratulations to Professor Nikolaos Papanikolaou and his team of Lehman students for capturing top honors in the Maiden Lane Division of the College Fed Challenge. This is the second time in three years a Lehman team has triumphed in the contest, which is sponsored annually by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Finally, I was honored to take part in our Years of Service ceremony on December 1. This wonderful event puts the spotlight on employees with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and more years of service. This year, three long-serving members of the Lehman community—Professor Joseph Rachlin (Biological Sciences); Professor Ira Bloom (Political Science); and Professor Young Kun Kim (Political Science)—each of whom had 50 years of service and dedication to this noble institution. I am inspired by the dedication and commitment these colleagues have shown us; without a doubt, we will stand in further need of their expertise, wisdom, and amiability to keep advancing our goals. I thank the College’s Division of Administration and Finance and Department of Human Resources for organizing this event.

In the News

I’m very pleased that our efforts to promote the College have met with recent success, as a number of high-profile media outlets have featured Lehman faculty, students and staff.

Our AR/VR Academy and Development Lab was featured on CNBC in a long segment and live coverage throughout the day on December 8. VR Lab student Tina Cheng and Vice President Ron Bergmann discussed how Lehman is leading the way by providing training in the emerging field of augmented and virtual reality.

The New York Daily News ran a feature on Alice Augustine, director of the Office of Prestigious Awards, whose work has helped increasing number of Lehman students win coveted scholarships. View the feature here.

Lehman garnered local media coverage for advocacy and support efforts on behalf of students affected by the rescission of DACA; Human Library project; Hackathon sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers—Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers; Librarian Martha Lerski’s book drive for Barbuda; and the Art Gallery presentation of “Dark and Stormy Night: Gothic Influences in Contemporary Art.


With all of the remarkable achievements of our students, faculty and staff, I find that a monthly letter is insufficient to express my pride in the Lehman community. So I have joined the Twitterverse to communicate in a more timely way. I invite you to follow me, @LehmanPresident.

Happy Holidays

In closing, I wish you good luck as we come to the close of the fall semester, and hope you enjoy the upcoming holidays and winter break. I hope to see you around campus at one or more of our end of year celebrations.


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

Previous messages from President Cruz can be found here.