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April 03, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

Dear Member of the Lehman Community:

How are you doing? I hope that despite these tough times, you and your loved ones are managing to make life work.

Last Friday, 98 members of the Lehman community enjoyed a virtual House Party sponsored by the Office of Campus Life. The star of the show was Lehman alum DJ PHNXMPM, better known as Ode Hoppie. This week, 80 members of the Senate had a practice session on Zoom. And many classes are meeting at least some of the time on Zoom, BlackBoard, and WebEx. It can be nourishing just being together virtually in those and other ways that help us transcend our isolation.

Our community is not unscathed, and we have suffered painful losses. Two of my former colleagues at City College were taken this week by COVID-19. And at Lehman, we lost one of our nursing alumna, Freda Ocran, a healthcare hero who put her life on the line for patients at Jacobi Medical Center. A New Yorker article featured the father of one of our nursing students who was also taken by the virus. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to their families and friends as they bear these great losses. I know many others are struggling now, and we fervently hope for their full recovery.

Graduation news

CUNY just announced that all graduation ceremonies across the university are postponed. At the completion of the spring semester, all degrees will be conferred as scheduled, and diplomas will be awarded. In the coming days, Lehman will develop its own plans for celebrating our Class of 2020.

Loaner iPads and Chromebooks

We have received over 500 requests for loaner iPads and Chromebooks, and for the past week we have been distributing them to students via UPS. Students who have not yet applied for a loaner iPad or a Chromebook should fill out the application on our website.

Tuition Payment Plans

See my April 1 email to campus for an explanation of possible ways to handle payments for this spring term. You can submit a completed financial hardship form via this link.

Student Activity Fee Refund

The University will waive 25 percent of the Spring 2020 Student Activity Fee for students enrolled in CUNY colleges on a 15-week calendar. Read more here.


There will be no formal SETL process this term. There has been far too much disruption for evaluations to be comparable to other terms. However, there may be informal surveys of students about their experience this term. The results of those surveys would be for the purpose of learning from our experience of switching to distance learning and not for evaluation of individual instructors.

Planning for the Summer Term

In an interview on CNN last week, Bill Gates said, “You think you are overreacting, and two days later you look back and realize you were under-reacting.” That has been our life the past month or more. At this point, it doesn’t even seem like an overreaction to plan for an all-online summer term. The Chancellor just announced that this will be a CUNY-wide practice for this summer term.

Planning for the Fall Term

Departments are beginning to plan for the fall term, and Bill Gates’s observation still applies. None of us knows where the peak of the infection curve is, or how far it extends into the summer and beyond. The world has no exit strategy for COVID-19 yet. Given that, it is certainly possible that some level of social distancing will still be required at least at the beginning of the fall term.

We are awaiting further guidance from NYSED and the CUNY central administration for a final decision about the format of fall courses. However, unlike what happened in the middle of this spring term, we have time to prepare to be online to some degree, should that be needed. The continuing development of digital learning tools can only help us be prepared for future contingencies, and regardless of what happens, will enrich our courses. In the coming weeks the Provost will be describing additional ways faculty and students will be supported in preparation for greater use of digital learning.


This week, the Congress passed, and the president signed, the $2 trillion CARES Act. Fourteen billion was designated for higher education, and it seems that CUNY should receive around $200 million to offset costs related to transitioning students to remote learning for the remainder of the term. In the coming weeks we will learn the specifics. It is not enough to cover all of the costs caused by COVID-19, but it will help.

More information

As always, the best source for up-to-date information about Lehman’s response to COVID-19 developments is the coronavirus website, which we add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu

Ferns A close friend of mine who is sequestered like we are, sent me this picture of new ferns growing outside his door. I find hope in their display of life’s resilience. Life goes on, and we go on.

Take care, and continue to stay safe by strictly following the guidance on social distancing, and also constant hand and respiratory hygiene. These precautions will remain extremely important for the coming weeks.


Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.