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September 10, 2018
A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz
As the fall semester enters its third week, I am mindful that it has been a solid two months since my last update on my activities in service of Lehman College’s important mission. So, it is an opportune time to report on my contributions to our collective efforts during the peak months of summer.

Elevating Our Voice and Raising Our Profile

On August 26 and 27, my wife, Dr. Rima Brusi, and I participated in an exploratory and informational meeting regarding higher education, the humanities and the arts in Puerto Rico that was hosted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in Manhattan. This was a great opportunity to meet with a number of people deeply involved in rebuilding Puerto Rico and maintaining its rich cultural heritage.

On August 10, I met with John B. King, Jr., president and CEO of The Education Trust (whom you may recall delivered the 49th Annual Herbert H. Lehman Memorial Lecture last March) at the offices of our partners, Here to Here. We discussed the federal and state higher ed policy landscape and opportunities to advance an equity agenda for public colleges and universities and had an opportunity to learn more about the work of Here to Here.

I participated in a regular meeting of the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s Finance and Audit Committee by phone on August 6. Two days later, I attended an orientation luncheon for new board members of the Regional Plan Association, the urban research and advocacy organization, where I plan to share my perspectives about the Bronx.

Lehman College continues to expand its international collaborations, and in this regard I was honored to meet with President José Armando Tavárez of the Instituto Tecnológico de Las Américas (ITLA) on August 6 and sign an agreement that paves the way for students from the Dominican Republic to come study at Lehman. We also discussed building an even stronger alliance of our academic programs, and which would also include Bronx Community College.

In February, Lehman College — as the lead institution — submitted a proposal and a new program design for National Science Foundation funding of 12 CUNY colleges in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program. We recently learned that CUNY would be awarded the $3.8 million NSF grant, and it was my tremendous pleasure to inform our participating CUNY partners of the great news.

Friendraising and Fundraising

I have continued to meet and discuss Lehman’s efforts in fulfilling our 90x30 vision with a number of current and potential supporters of the College. Much of my focus remains on increasing the resources and establishing the partnerships that will allow us to widen access to our programs and increase degree and credential attainment across the board. Some examples of our efforts on these fronts follow.

On September 6, we hosted Donna Linderman, CUNY’s associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and several leaders of the university’s ASAP program, for an informational session. The session — an introduction to the ACE (Accelerate Complete Engage) program—was attended by leaders of various units of our divisions of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Enrollment Management. We are currently working to secure funding to establish Lehman College as the second senior CUNY college to be part of the ACE program (John Jay College of Criminal Justice was the first).

We are attempting to establish linkages between Lehman’s agenda for the future and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s interests in expanding opportunities for first-generation college students. With this in mind, I traveled to Washington, D.C. with Vice President Susan Ebersole, and we met with the executives in charge of Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative on August 29.

On August 27, I participated — along with Dean Elin Waring, Dean Jane MacKillop, and Prof. Carl Mazza— in a conference call to discuss a city funding opportunity for Lehman’s Social Work program. And to gather more insights into seeking significant gifts to the College, Vice President Ebersole and I met with Andrea Shapiro Davis, CUNY’s associate vice chancellor for Corporate, Foundation and Major Gift Development, on August 30.

And as part of our continued friendraising efforts, on July 30, I had the great pleasure of attending a special dinner celebrating 10 years of scholarship contributions from the St. George’s Society of New York to Lehman students with connections to the British Commonwealth. The following evening, I joined José Higuera López, interim director of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at The City University of New York, and Vice President Ebersole, for a dinner with the board members of the Association of Mexican Professionals and Entrepreneurs in New York (APEM). Vice President Ebersole and I then met on August 6 with Stephen Lash, whose wife, Wendy Lehman Lash, is the granddaughter of Herbert H. Lehman; he has been an avid and active friend of the College. We also met with an executive team from Collier’s International that included Stephan Butler, Eric Hahn and Warren Elghanayan to discuss our College’s ambitious plans.

MSCHE Institutional Self-Study

As previously communicated, we are heightening efforts this semester for our Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) institutional self-study process in preparation for the official site visit scheduled for April 7-10, 2019. A preliminary meeting with the chair of the site visit will occur on December 7, 2018 (new date). Knowing that the work ahead is vitally important to Lehman’s academic standing, we have reconstituted the membership of the institutional self-study steering committee and tasked a core group of the committee with ensuring the success of the preliminary visit. The executive committee includes: Prof. Ira Bloom, chair of the Self-Study Steering Committee; Kenneth Schlesinger, lead writer of Lehman’s MSCHE self-study report; Prof. Vincent Prohaska, MSCHE accreditation liaison officer (ALO); Jonathan Gagliardi, secretary of the Steering Committee; and Gladys Maldoon, staff coordinator of the Steering Committee. On August 27, I met with the executive committee and thanked the members for stepping up to this urgent assignment. The first full steering committee meeting will be on September 28. More information will be forthcoming.

Shared Governance

With the hope of creating a forum for bringing the experienced and diverse perspectives of our campus community to bear more directly on issues facing our College, I have created a President’s Council that will convene twice a year. The Council will include all members of the President’s Cabinet; school deans; the chief librarian; the chairs of the College Senate, General Faculty, PSC Lehman Chapter, DC-37 Lehman Chapter, Student Government Association, and Student Legislative Assembly. The first meeting of the Council will be September 24.

In relation to my participation in CUNY’s governance structures, I chaired a Council of Presidents Committee on Fiscal Affairs meeting on July 30, and attended Council of Presidents meetings and Presidents’ luncheons with Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz on August 7 and September 5.

College-wide, there were FP&B meetings on August 21 and September 4, plus a College Senate meeting on September 5, all of which I attended. With the personnel transitions on campus, I have called a number of cabinet meetings during the last two months. New Faculty Orientation took place on August 24, and I offered welcoming remarks along with Dr. Vincent Prohaska, interim vice provost for Academic Affairs. On the same day, I also welcomed the academic chair persons to the Student Success Chairs Workshop. Earlier, on August 21, the chairs received training at a legal policy workshop hosted by the Faculty, Personnel & Budget (FP&B) Committee, which I helped kick off with Dr. Prohaska.

And to keep all of the College’s schools and departments fully updated on goals and initiatives, especially as we build up efforts in advance of the Middle States review, I have begun meeting with the executive committees of the schools, as well as the deans, associate deans and chairs of every academic department. This is a rolling effort that commenced on August 28 with meetings with the executive committees from the School of Natural and Social Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities.

Organizational Updates

A number of important leadership roles at Lehman have undergone recent changes. Below is a recap of the corresponding announcements that have previously been shared with the campus community.

Divisional Leadership

In the sad absence of Vincent Clark, Rene Rotolo is serving as executive in charge (EIC) of the Division of Administration and Finance. Christina Chiappa, deputy chief financial officer of CUNY, has been assigned to Lehman to fill the CFO post during the transition. Efforts are underway to launch the search for Lehman’s next vice president of Administration and Finance. More information will be forthcoming.

As previously announced, Dr. Harriet Fayne stepped down last month from the position of provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Student Success. A search has been launched to fill this position, but in the meantime, Dr. Vincent Prohaska, interim vice provost for Academic Programs, is serving as the EIC for the division of Academic Affairs. Dr. Daniel Lemons, professor emeritus of biology at The City College of New York, will become the executive in charge (EIC) when he assumes the position of interim dean of Academic Affairs on October 1.

School Leadership

In response to national searches to fill the corresponding positions, Dr. Jane MacKillop was named dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and Dr. James Mahon and Dr. Karin Beck were appointed as dean and associate dean, respectively, of the School of Arts and Humanities.

Pursuant to internal consultation processes with the corresponding stakeholders, the following interim appointments were enacted: Dr. Gaoyin Qian and Dr. Serigne Gningue as interim dean and interim associate dean, respectively, of the School of Education; Dr. Pamela Mills and Dr. José Cao-Alvira as interim dean and interim associate dean, respectively, of the School of Natural and Social Sciences; and Dr. Elin Waring and Dr. Jaye Jones as interim dean and interim associate dean of the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing.

Office of the President

As previously communicated, to better support the leadership transitions in motion, Vice President Ebersole will oversee the Art Gallery, and Dawn Ewing-Morgan, Lehman’s chief diversity officer, will oversee the Office of Human Resources. And to further streamline the work of the Office of the President and the President’s Cabinet, Ms. Gladys Maldoon, deputy to the president for Special Initiatives will assume the functional title of chief of operations, while Dr. Jonathan Gagliardi, assistant vice president for Strategy, Policy, and Analytics, will add chief of staff to his functional title.

Convocation 2018

All are invited to attend Convocation 2018 in the Monroe and Rose D. Lovinger Theatre on Wednesday, September 12 at 11 a.m. I will deliver remarks about the year that was and the year that will be, and we will present awards to outstanding faculty and staff. A reception will follow in the Faculty Dining Room. Please RSVP to: Events.RSVP@lehman.cuny.edu.

Have a great semester, keep engaged—and vote!

Our best chance to make a difference—on every level of existence and governance—is here and now. Without rolling out too many clichés, stay connected to each other and remain enthusiastic about the work ahead of us.

See you around campus.

José Luis Cruz

Previous messages from President Cruz can be found here.