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March 25, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

Dear Member of the Lehman Community:

In the past few weeks I have observed in all quarters an almost unimaginable flexibility, creativity and willingness to jump into uncertain waters. We will need to keep that up. In these challenging times, we have had to make many decisions, and do so rapidly. And I have heard reasonable concerns about some of them.

So, why are we having a recalibration beginning Friday when many of us seem to have finally gotten on track with distance learning? Well, while many students had a computer or laptop and reliable internet access on March 19, a substantial number of students still did not.

We knew that the digital equity divide existed before our retooling recess, and in response, and through the prompt and tireless efforts of Vice President Ronald Bergmann, Dean Stanley Bazile, Vice President Rene Rotolo – along with many others – close to 200 Chromebooks and iPads were acquired in the past week to be loaned to students. At the same time, the CUNY central administration ordered a large number of additional laptops and iPads for distribution. A portion of those are about to arrive.

To give you some sense of the 144 students who have applied for and will receive the loaner computers:

  • 40 expect to graduate this spring
  • 91 are using the Lehman College Food Bank
  • 67 are full-time undergraduates, and,
  • Almost all are comfortable using BlackBoard – they just need the proper equipment to have a fair chance of finishing the term.

What we need for that to happen is more time to distribute computers and then for those students to get online and catch up with their classes; that is part of what the recalibration gives us.

I encourage students to continue distance learning through the recalibration period if they have fully entered into it. Instructors who know that every student in their class is now equipped for distance learning can continue to add material online as they see fit; that is one of the great features of asynchronous learning.

The shorter spring recess is unfortunate, but very little about the spring term of 2020 fits our usual pattern. It is unlike any other term in Lehman College history. We all have adapted to changes we didn't see coming in every one of the past thirty days. The recalibration is one more such change that springs from our commitment to our mission. Without question, it requires adjustments and effort, but despite that, it is unlikely to derail students. Without it, a significant number won't have a chance this term. There may be students who still will not succeed, despite these efforts, and for those, we will follow up with other measures so they can recover and continue their studies.

As always, thank you for your commitment!

Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.