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March 26, 2018

A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz
With the beginning of our celebration of Lehman College’s 50th Anniversary right around the corner in April, this is an opportune time to recap my recent activity on behalf of the College. Before doing so, I want to thank the staffs of our departments of Public Safety and Buildings and Grounds for their extraordinary efforts in maintaining the campus during and after the inclement weather we have experienced. I’m sure you join me in looking forward to the arrival of (true) spring!

Governmental Affairs

Last month, I attended the State of the Borough address at the Bronx High School of Science, and a few days later, met privately with Borough President Rubén Diaz, Jr., a very proud Lehman alumnus, to discuss the College’s capital budget request for this year. On March 6, I traveled to Albany with President Thomas A. Isekenegbe of Bronx Community College and President David Gómez of Hostos Community College, to meet with the Bronx delegation of the New York State Assembly about budget priorities for CUNY and our respective institutions. Later, I met privately with representatives from the offices of Lehman College’s State Senate representative, Jeffrey Klein, and Senator Kenneth LaValle, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. And I also met with Assembly Higher Education Chair Deborah Glick. Tomorrow, I will present Lehman’s budget requests to the New York City Council. I will share the results of our advocacy efforts once the FY 2018-19 budget cycle is finalized.

Elevating Lehman’s Voice

In the past few weeks I have been afforded the opportunity to add Lehman’s voice to various discussions regarding public perceptions of higher education, the use of actionable data to inform institutional initiatives, the various paths to academic leadership positions, the why and how behind the imperative to diversify our student bodies, and the need for effective oversight of for-profit colleges and universities.

Inside Higher Ed

On February 15, I traveled to Washington D.C. to join former U.S. Secretary of Education and current President of University of North Carolina, Margaret Spellings, and Carol D’Amico, the executive vice president of Strada Network in a panel discussion moderated by Doug Lederman, editor, Inside Higher Ed, titled "The Data on Eroding Confidence." The discussion focused on the seemingly growing divide on how Republicans and Democrats view higher education, the reasons underlying the coarsening perception of colleges and universities, and what institutions can do to better communicate their value.


Earlier this month, I attended the American Council on Education (ACE) 100th Annual Meeting and Conference in Washington, D. C. (March 10-13). On the conference’s first day, I joined several former and current college presidents at the “Innovative Leadership Roundtable.” The roundtable discussion centered on issues identified in the eighth edition of the American College President Study.

During the conference, I also attended a planning session for the upcoming American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Annual Meeting and served as a panelist on a session called “The Data-Enabled CEO,” which examined how to nurture a culture of data-informed decision-making across an entire campus. Other panelists included Mark Becker, president, Georgia State University; Scott D. Pulsipher, president, Western Governors University; and Christine Keller, executive director, Association for Institutional Research..

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/The Chronicle of Higher Education

While at ACE2018, on March 12, I recorded a future episode called New Presidents on Leadership, Innovation and Student Success for To a Degree, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success team’s podcast, where I was joined by Mary Papazian, president of San Jose State University, and Scott Rawls, president of Northern Virginia Community College. And on March 13, a reporter from the Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed me on student diversity in higher education and Lehman College initiatives.

The Century Foundation

On March 22, I attended the New York For-Profit Accountability strategy session convened by The Century Foundation. I participated in a panel entitled “Envisioning More Equitable Alternatives” and discussed how federal and state policies need to privilege the public state colleges and universities that disproportionately add value to the educational journeys of America’s increasingly diverse communities. The Century Foundation recently released a report, Grading New York’s Colleges, that presents an analysis that shows that “[New York scholarship] funds are supporting troubling outcomes and equity concerns concentrated among for-profit colleges.”

Friendraising and Fundraising

On February 16, I joined two CUNY officials (Dean John Mogulescu and Dean Donna Linderman) in a meeting with two officials from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity), Deputy Executive Director Carson Hicks and Director of Programs and Evaluation David Berman, to explore possible collaborations that will help advance our respective institutional missions.

I participated in a conference call on February 21 with leadership from Bottom Line, a not-for-profit organization that works with first-generation college students in several cities. Dean Mogulescu and Tracy Meade, of the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs, joined me on the call.

The purpose was to learn more about the organization’s work and how it relates to Lehman’s student success initiatives.

On March 1, I was joined by several cabinet members in a planning meeting with Tracy Day, co-founder and CEO of the World Science Festival, and several members of her executive team. The objective of the meeting was to 1) finalize plans for the City of Science event that would be subsequently hosted by our campus on Sunday, March 11th and 2) develop a comprehensive plan to enhance science teaching and learning opportunities in the Bronx.

The next day, I represented Lehman at a New York Metro Region Anchor Strategy Network meeting convened by the Regional Plan Association (RPA). The network’s mission is to “engage with anchor institutions, municipal leaders and local neighborhoods to create meaningful and sustainable partnerships that leverage diverse capital and human resources to drive community well-being and equitable economic growth.”

On March 15, I met with Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo North America, to discuss possible internships, scholarships and career opportunities for Lehman students. I was accompanied by Provost Niki Fayne, Vice President José Magdaleno, and Prof. Dene Hurley. We identified several areas ripe for collaboration and have agreed to convene in three months to review progress in each of them.

University Initiatives

Late last month, we hosted a wonderful reception to celebrate the submission of our University’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) grant proposal, for which Lehman is proud to serve as lead. We worked with our colleagues from across 12 CUNY campuses under a tight deadline to deliver a superb proposal and program redesign to the National Science Foundation. Thanks to all members of the Lehman community who shepherded this effort. I will let you know when we learn NSF’s decision.

Since my last message, I’ve attended several meetings associated with University-level issues and initiatives. In February I met with the consultants who are leading the search for CUNY’s next Chancellor. I convened the CUNY Council of Presidents (COPS) Fiscal Affairs Committee on February 21 and March 21. The afternoon of February 26 was devoted to a number of meetings of CUNY Board of Trustees, namely the Committee on Academic Programs, Policy and Research (CAPPR), Subcommittee on Investment, Committee on Audit, and Committee on Fiscal Affairs. On March 19, I co-chaired a meeting of COPS’ Faculty Diversity Working Group. I am serving on the presidential search committee for Kingsborough Community College; I attended the committee’s March 15 meeting.

Organizational Updates

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success

On March 9, I announced that I had recommended the appointment of Dr. Harriet (Niki) Fayne to the position of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success. Niki has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, most recently as Lehman’s interim provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs. Since her appointment as interim provost in August 2016, she has been instrumental in helping establish a strong foundation for the College’s third presidency. I am confident she will continue to have the support of the campus community as she doubles down on her efforts to help all of us advance the noble mission of Lehman College.

Vice President for Institutional Advancement

I announced late last month that I have recommended the appointment of Susan E. Ebersole to the position of Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Lehman College Foundation. Ms. Ebersole, who began her tenure at Lehman on March 22, brings more than two decades of experience and demonstrated success in fundraising and external relations to this position. She most recently served as director of Leadership Gifts for the New York Philharmonic, overseeing significant annual donations for general operating support, as well as support for artistic and music education initiatives. I look forward to working with Ms. Ebersole as we advance our institutional mission, endeavor to meet our 90x30 challenge, and redouble our efforts to better serve our students, our campus and our community.

Executive Counsel to the President and Labor Designee

Esdras Tulier, who has served as CUNY’s deputy to the vice chancellor for Human Resources Management since 2014, will serve as interim executive counsel to the President and labor designee starting on April 2, 2018. As many of you know, Es was assistant counsel in the Office of the University General Counsel from 1990 to 1999 before heading to Lehman College, where he was special counsel to the President until 2012. We are excited about having Es back on campus and look forward to working with him.

Interim Dean, School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing

Last week, I announced the appointment of Dr. Mark Tausig as interim dean of the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing. Dr. Tausig, who currently serves as the school’s associate dean, will serve as dean starting on April 14 when Dean William Latimer officially assumes the presidency of The College of New Rochelle. Information regarding the search process for the next permanent dean will be forthcoming. We thank Dr. Tausig for his willingness to serve in this capacity and wish Dr. Latimer much success in his future endeavors.

Upcoming Campus Events

CNN Español Screening of DACA Documentary

Lehman is proud to host a special screening of the CNN Español documentary, Deportados, on Wednesday, March 28 at 7pm in the Lovinger Theatre. A special panel discussion, featuring CNN Español political correspondent Juan Carlos Lopez, the film’s producer, elected representatives, and CUNY Dreamers, will follow the screening.

Lehman Lecture

The 49th annual Lehman Lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 10. John B. King, president and CEO of The Education Trust will deliver the lecture, entitled “Leveling the Playing Field: Closing the Achievement Gap in the Nation’s Schools and Universities.” Dr. King is one of our nation’s most prominent advocates for advancing excellence and equity for all students.

International Women and Peace Speaker Series Event: Art, Cross Cultural Dialogue and Empowerment

As part of our Women’s History Month program, artist and activist Priya Shah will discuss women and their role in peacebuilding as it relates to art and cross-culture education on Wednesday, April 18 from noon to 4pm in the Art Gallery.

I look forward to seeing you around campus as the semester progresses.

José Luis Cruz

Previous messages from President Cruz can be found here.