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Lehman College: City University of New York
August 15, 2017

A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz
It’s been exactly one year since I joined Lehman College, and I find that the passage of time only serves to heighten the pride and sense of purpose I feel in being part of such an extraordinary community of learners, teachers, scholars, and advocates. I have witnessed first-hand how each of you enthusiastically goes about the task of transforming the lives of the students we serve. Your commitment inspires me every day.

Against the backdrop of the recent events in Charlottesville, I am confident to say that I am ready to join you in the difficult, urgent work that this new academic year will bring. I am pleased to serve as your president as we embark on this all-important journey – to help our students turn their aspirations into reality, to improve the prospects of the borough we call home, advance the disciplines we study, and mobilize against injustice, prejudice, and discrimination in all its forms.

As you’ll see from the following update of my recent activities, I continue to position Lehman as the most mission critical college in our city, in support of your hard work and commitment.

Public Affairs and Community Engagement

On August 1, I attended the Here to Here conference at Hostos Community College. Here to Here is a "network of high schools, post-secondary programs, CBOs and employers who are seeking to create and expand multiple pathways to rewarding careers, beginning in the South Bronx and with youths ages 14 to 15." I was accompanied by my wife, Dr. Rima Brusi, and had a chance to interact with many current and potential partners from the public and private sectors. Later that night, Rima and I enjoyed joining a very enthusiastic group of community members who visited our campus for a screening of the movie Sing. My congratulations to Dante Albertie and all those who worked so hard to make Movies Under the Bronx Moon such a special event.

On July 25, on behalf of Lehman College, I signed a letter urging Congress to continue adjusting Federal Pell Grants for inflation. Without Congressional action, the 2017-18 academic year will be the last one in which these grants are indexed. By signing on, Lehman joined more than 300 colleges, universities and education advocates who believe that reductions in the purchasing power of Pell grants would jeopardize many students’ ability to further their education and improve their chances of economic and social mobility. About 73% of Lehman’s full-time, first-time students receive Pell Grants.

On July 22, I had the privilege of delivering the closing keynote presentation to the 2016-17 cohort of the American Academic Leadership Institute’s Becoming a Provost Academy (BAPA), held in Baltimore, MD. The following day, I was honored to deliver the opening keynote presentation to the entering 2017-18 cohort of the BAPA program. My presentations focused on the provost's role in meeting today's challenges and opportunities in higher education.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities held its Summer Council of Presidents conference in Boston on July 14 through July 18. Rima was a featured speaker at the conference’s New Member Presidents and Spouses Welcome Lunch on July 15. Her remarks were very well received.

I met with Dr. Vinton Thompson, president of Metropolitan College of New York, on July 6 to continue our discussions about fostering youth programs and college-supported housing. The same day I also met with Dr. Adrian Franco, program director for Economic Education at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to discuss further collaborations. (Lehman won first place in the 2015 College Fed Challenge Maiden Lane Division.) Dr. Franco also serves on the Executive Board of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY.

Interim Provost Fayne and I met with Superintendent Elisa Álvarez from Community School District 7 in the South Bronx on June 28 to discuss possible collaborations to help build college awareness and readiness for students. Later the same day, I attended a biannual meeting of the board of directors for the Hispanic Educational Technology Services (HETS) at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

On June 29, I was the commencement speaker at the New York City Charter High School of Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries graduation, which was held here at the Lovinger Theatre. That same evening, I was presented the Leadership Award at the Latino Center on Aging's 27th Golden Age Awards Banquet here in the Bronx. I was proud to be accompanied by Dr. Alicia Georges and Trustee Rita DiMartino.

On June 27, I met with Pierina Ana Sánchez, the New York Director of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), to share ideas about our organizational goals and possible partnerships. RPA, a prominent research and advocacy think-tank devoted to improving the quality life in the New York City metropolitan region, is in the process of readying its Fourth Regional Plan. Later that day I attended the graduation exercises for Celia Cruz High School of Music at the Lehman Performing Arts Center and offered my congratulations.

University and College Events

The Lehman College Physics Club hosted a lecture that I attended on July 11. Joseph M. Fedrow from the Center for Gravitational Physics and International Research Unit of Advanced Future Studies at Kyoto University’s Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics was the speaker and his lecture was entitled "Kintsugi: The Art of Broken Symmetry Across Space and Time."

Along with Brooklyn College President Michelle J. Anderson, I have been serving as co-chair of the CUNY Presidential Working Group on Faculty Diversity, and on July 11 we met with Chancellor James B. Milliken to brief him on our work to date regarding the goal of widening access to CUNY professorships.

On June 26, I attended a meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees, the last one scheduled for this school year. At the meeting, the trustees approved the University’s FY2018 capital and operating budgets, new guidelines for the operation of College Foundations, and a proposed amendment to Lehman’s Governance Plan, among other important matters. After the meeting, I attended a reception to welcome the University’s new General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs, Ms. Loretta Martinez

Lehman’s 90x30 Challenge

The progress toward our goal of doubling the number of high-quality degrees and credentials that our students will earn by the year 2030 continues in many ways. Since I last communicated with you, I’ve held conversations regarding 90x30 with national experts spanning a broad range of organizations, including the Aspen Institute, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Council on Education, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

On July 19, I convened the last of three summer meetings of the Lehman Forward Roundtable. The Roundtable consisted of more than 15 distinguished friends and alums of Lehman College who agreed to bring their unique knowledge, skills, judgment, institutional memory, community standing, and personal contacts to the task of advancing our proposed 90x30 goal. Through these meetings, they provided us valuable insights that I will share with you in separate 90x30 communications.

On July 10, I met with CUNY’s Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs John Mogulescu before a larger gathering was convened that included several other CUNY Academic Affairs leaders (Cass Conrad, Executive Director, School Support and development; Angie Kamath, University Dean for Continuing Education and Workforce Development; and Donna Linderman, University Dean for Student Success Initiatives) along with seven other Lehman administrators. We focused on the path forward for the 90x30 Challenge and reported on how we are advancing toward our ambitious goal.

On June 29, a day-long visit to our campus by Dr. Peter O. Nwosu, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Clark Atlanta University in Georgia, gave Lehman’s key academic leaders and relevant division representatives an opportunity to discuss and ask questions about student success initiatives. Dr. Nwosu, who served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University-Fullerton while I was there, has over two decades of experience in strategic planning and organizational effectiveness.

Organizational Updates

Academic Affairs

As you know, one of the most important college-wide efforts we will undertake this year is the search for our next permanent provost. The success of this effort will depend on our ability to conduct a highly transparent, inclusive, and participatory search process; uphold all applicable personnel policies, practices, and regulations; and attract a highly qualified and diverse pool of candidates.

Today, I am pleased to inform you that we have established an excellent search committee. The committee will be co-chaired by Vincent Prohaska (chair, Executive Committee of the Faculty; professor, Department of Psychology) and Ron Bergmann (vice president of Information Technology), and it will include two student representatives and the following faculty and staff representatives: Gaoyian Qian (associate dean, School of Education); Carl Mazza (chair, Department of Social Work); Paula Loscocco (chair, Department of English); Pamela Mills (chair, Department of Chemistry); Janette Tilley (chair, Department of Music, Multimedia, Theatre, and Dance); Eleanor Campbell (director of Graduate Program, Department of Nursing); Rosa Rivera-McCutchen (associate professor, Department of Counseling, Leadership, Literacy and Special Education Leadership); Stanley Bazile (dean of Students); Richard Finger (director, Graduate Studies); and Bethania Ortega (director, Office of Budget and Planning).

More information regarding the search process will be forthcoming.

Marketing and Communications

Last month, Lehman College welcomed Karen Crowe to serve as assistant vice president of Marketing and Communications. Karen has held significant communications leadership posts in New York City government offices and at not-for-profit organizations as well. Along with managing the Office of Media Relations and Publications, Karen will be involved with the marketing and branding efforts at Lehman leading up to the College’s 50th anniversary celebration next year.

Institutional Advancement

Another important search we will be conducting this fall is for the position of vice president of Institutional Advancement. I am pleased to report that with the University's support, we have been able to engage a very experienced search firm, Freeman Philanthropic Services, to help us identify the best possible talent to fill this critical vacancy. In this case, our search committee will be chaired by Interim Provost Niki Fayne and include the following members: Ira Cohen (vice chair, Lehman College Foundation), Vincent Clark (vice president, Administration and Finance), Karen Crowe (assistant vice president, Marketing and Communications), Bill Latimer (dean, School of Health Sciences, Human Services, and Nursing), Cristina Necula (director, Alumni Relations), and Herminio Martínez (executive director, The Bronx Institute of Lehman College).

The year ahead promises to be full of excitement and accomplishments. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and I’ll see you back on campus in good time.

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

Previous messages from President Cruz can be found here.