Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Gifts $30 Million to Lehman College

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By COLLEEN LUTOLF

Lehman College is proud to announce a $30 million gift from philanthropist, author and activist MacKenzie Scott. This is the largest single gift in the college’s history and one of the largest in the history of The City University of New York (CUNY).

Lehman was one of 384 nonprofit and educational institutions recognized by Scott in a Tuesday, Dec. 15, announcement posted online. The colleges and nonprofits were selected because they “took a data-driven approach to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”

“On behalf of the entire Lehman College community, we are deeply grateful to Ms. MacKenzie Scott for this extremely generous gift that will enable the college to further its mission as a catalytic anchor institution in the Bronx by adding significantly to investments with high student impact, such as scholarships and career development initiatives; academic innovation and excellence; community stewardship initiatives; and college capacity building, while also addressing more immediate student and programmatic needs presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lehman College President Daniel Lemons. “The gift is transformative and comes to the college because of Lehman’s track record of outstanding advancement of social mobility for our students, a record that exists through the long-standing efforts on our students’ behalf by every part of the college.”

The college will work with the Lehman College Foundation, the Office of Institutional Advancement, and college stakeholders to work out the details and timing of the gift, Lemons said.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of Ms. MacKenzie Scott and profoundly grateful she has chosen to put her faith in the abilities of Lehman College and CUNY to help realize her vision to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers impacted by the pandemic,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “This ground-breaking gift will greatly expand ongoing efforts by Lehman and the University to extend much-needed relief to our resilient students by creating educational pathways and career opportunities to help them regain their footing and bring them closer to fulfilling their educational goals. A gift of this size at the end of a year as challenging as 2020 brings us renewed hope for the possibilities it creates and for the recognition it brings to the dedicated leaders, staff and faculty of Lehman.”

Lehman College, a designated Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), is CUNY’s only majority Hispanic senior college, and has been ranked by the American Council on Education as first in the nation among HSIs for helping students improve their academic standing through education; and it ranks fourth among all four-year colleges as reported by The New York Times for social mobility—or the College’s ability to propel low-income students into the middle class.

“This year has been incredibly challenging for our students, faculty and staff and receiving this recognition of the work that is being done here at Lehman really gives us the momentum to get us over the finish line into 2021,” Lemons said. “We are finishing 2020 on a very high note.”

Earlier this summer, Scott gave $1.7 billion to 111 nonprofits and institutions, six of them HBCUs. On Tuesday, she announced she had given gifts totaling more than $4.1 billion. Of that, Lehman and fellow CUNY school Borough of Manhattan Community College  received $30 million each.

“So often, Lehman College is referred to as CUNY’s ‘hidden gem’ in the Bronx. It is our hope that this extraordinary leadership gift from Ms. Scott will bring further recognition to Lehman College and its remarkable history of accomplishments, and of the achievements of our students, most of whom live in the Bronx,” said Vice President of Lehman College Institutional Advancement Susan E. Ebersole. “This gift is a testament to their exceptionalism and to the life changing experience a Lehman education provides. Put simply, this gift makes so much more possible for our school and our students, many of whom are struggling to continue their public college education in these extraordinarily difficult times.”