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March 02, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

February brought us ever closer to real spring and also created a lot of opportunities to connect with my colleagues around the country and closer to home, here in the Bronx.

I was glad to host Senator Alessandra Biaggi on campus again when we announced her generous and important capital funding grant of $340,000 to expand our Compost Education Center. News 12 The Bronx and BronxNet covered the announcement. You may know that until recently, I was an elected municipal official. One area of focus in that role was sustainability and the environment. I’ve led projects for solar energy, electric vehicle charging stations, LED street lighting, building GHG analyses and others. So, it’s particularly exciting for me to be a small part of this ongoing effort at Lehman College to promote sustainability. We have so far to go, but we get there by taking one significant step after another, and this is certainly one of those.

I welcomed Yubelkys Montalvo, Executive Director of Hispanic Educational Technology Services (HETS) to campus and she also met with Provost Peter Nwosu and Vice President Jonathan Gagliardi. HETS is the first bilingual consortium dedicated to serving the higher education needs of Hispanic communities and is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

President’s Day weekend, I was pleased to return to Albany during the 49th Annual New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators to learn from the New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus about the Black and Latino experience with CUNY. I also attended the CUNY Caucus Luncheon with Lehman’s Government Affairs liaison, Sandy Cheiten. Along with CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez and his administration, most CUNY presidents attended, and a stream of our elected officials came to speak, including a completely voiceless Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and many legislators. Earlier in the month, Sandy and I also visited with several lawmakers and their staff alongside Hostos Community College President David Gómez and Bronx Community College President Thomas Isekenegbe discussing the TAP gap and other funding priorities. I also discussed Lehman’s funding priorities with New York City Councilman Andrew Cohen.

We also commemorated Black History Month with several activities, the most significant among them was the opening exhibition for the Lehman Art Gallery’s 2020 season, “Young, Gifted and Black: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art” opening reception. While many works in the family’s collection have been lent to museums over the years, Young Gifted and Black is the first stand-alone public exhibition curated from this exceptional collection. You can read more about it on the Art Gallery’s homepage. Bernard Lumpkin was present for the opening which was attended by over 300 people. Featured artists include Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson, Kerry James Marshall, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Glenn Ligon. The exhibit, which was curated by Antwaun Sargent and Matt Wycoff, will be available at the gallery until May 2.

It was a pleasure for me to attend and give opening remarks at the Urban Male Leadership Program Fourth Annual Awards and Scholarship Brunch on February 29 at Eastwood Manor. The ever-impressive event was led by UMLP Director Michael Deas who did his usual superb job as the impresario. A wonderful group of Lehman students was honored, as were special guests Councilwoman Inez Barron, State Senator José Serrano, NY Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and civil rights attorney Charles Coleman.

I attended the AASCU Winter Meeting as part of Lehman College’s participation in the Student Success Academy. At the outset of the meeting our team of eight competed in a presentation of the developing student success plans. We won it hands down with a presentation entitled, “SEAMLSS--Seamless Educational Advancement to Maximize Lehman Student Success: An Integrated Approach to Hispanic and Low-Income Student Success.” We are one of five colleges in this Gates Foundation-funded initiative to develop data-rich tools for documenting and increasing student success. Through the efforts of many on campus, Lehman has emerged as a leading institution for student success, something we intend to continue and expand.

I was delighted to attend City of Science the second weekend in February. Lehman has hosted City of Science in partnership with the World Science Festival and Con Edison since 2016. February’s event was the largest yet with 4,500 attendees participating in activities created by our School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the New York Botanical Garden, Cornell University, NYU and several others.

A CUNY Athletic Conference consultant is assessing our CUNY athletic programs and I met with him to discuss our Lehman programs in which there are over 300 student athletes. Speaking of athletics, I enjoyed attending the 55th All-Star Basketball Luncheon honoring our best student-athletes in the CUNY Athletic Conference. Our men’s team made it to the semi-finals of the CUNYAC playoffs, playing a tough game against Baruch. We didn’t win, but the team played a great game, pushing at Baruch’s lead until the end of the match. The Riverdale Press ran a nice feature on men’s basketball coach, Steve Schulman.

Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to Donna McGregor, who recently received a grant for more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation as the principal investigator for “REU Site: Integrated Design of Materials in New York City.” The award begins March 15th.

As part of the Intermediaries for Scale grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation I mentioned in last month’s update, consultants retained by the Gates Foundation intends to spend a week on campus in the near future, simply observing what makes Lehman great. What happens here is being viewed as a model for other institutions around the country, which is something to certainly be proud of.

Congratulations to Alice Michelle Augustine for being highlighted by News 12 The Bronx for her tireless efforts to help students apply for scholarships and awards like the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Lehman College was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as a top producing institution in recognition of the four recipients who were part of the College’s largest graduating class last spring.

Congratulations are also in order to Suzette Ramsundar and the Campus Life team for receiving a 2020 Bronx Excellence Award from the Food Bank of New York City. Suzette’s leadership of the Herbert H. Lehman Food Pantry has been extraordinary in helping us meet the many challenges of food insecurity on campus.

The Edwin Gould Foundation awarded the Bronx Institute $50,000 to Engaging Latino Communities in Education (ENLACE) to further the Institute’s goals for offering added academic enrichment for underserved youth in middle and high school to prepare them for collegiate success.

The Sara Little Turnbull Foundation granted our arts department a four-year $200,000 grant to increase diversity in the field of design and to support historically underrepresented youth and women in design education, design practice and leadership. The grant will help the art department create scholarships for undergraduate and graduate design students, produce an annual design conference, create a design certificate for working professionals and more.

I was delighted to learn that Macauley Honors College junior Olivia Asher, a biology major, has been named a Con Edison STEM Scholar, which comes with a $5,000 award.

Shared Governance Meetings & other Events

Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.