President Cruz's Speech at the Chancellor’s Reception
September 8, 2016
Thank you, Chancellor Milliken -- for your kind words and for placing your confidence in my ability to lead this noble institution. Thanks also to all of you for the commitment to Lehman College that your presence here today represents.
It’s a privilege to be among so many esteemed members of our Lehman College community; members of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York; colleagues from CUNY central; fellow presidents and deans from across the City University; holders of borough, city, and state elected offices; and Lehman friends from the public and private sector.
And I am fortunate to be here today in the company of the woman I love and most admire; my partner in life; Dr. Rima Brusi.
It’s been nearly three months since the CUNY Board of Trustees officially appointed me as the third president of Lehman College. At that time, I expressed to them that I was humbled by the magnitude of the challenge and the level of responsibility that had been entrusted to me; energized by the opportunity to help advance the important mission of The City University of New York; and confident that in the years to come — with the support of all of you here today and those you represent — Lehman would increase its impact, expand its reach, and meet its full potential as an engine of opportunity, a vehicle of upward mobility, and a driver of transformative change.
That was then.
Today, three and a half weeks since the start of our collective journey into the third presidency of Lehman College; I can unequivocally state that my confidence was well-placed.
The more I learn about our institution, the more I learn about the community we serve, and the more I learn about you...the more confident I feel about our ability to uphold the highest standards of academic quality and integrity - even as we move to expand access; leverage our City as a living lab; engage locally with the global community we represent; improve graduation rates and reduce time to degree; increase the number of workforce-ready, civically-engaged students we graduate; and work hand in hand with our elected officials and public and private partners to accelerate the economic development and societal well-being of the region we serve.
I fully realize that we operate in uncertain times.
And I recognize that many obstacles will stand in our way as we work to bridge the gap between our current state of affairs and our professed aspirations.
But I know that we are not fazed by the challenges we face, but rather celebrate the fact that they are ours to face down.
And that we are proud to do so on behalf of
one of our nation’s most respected, resilient, and rising communities: the place that my family and I are now proud to call home — The Bronx.
In closing, please know that I am committed to building upon President Fernandez’s legacy of leadership and the solid foundation that you have all worked so hard to create.
In doing so, we will continue to transform the lives of those we serve;
do our part to cement The City University of New York’s rightful place as the premier public urban university in the world;
and inspire others
to take more-intentional action
to better serve
the millions of students who are coming of age in America today, but who — because of the color of their skin, the balance of their checking account, their place of origin, and/or the tenets of their faith — have traditionally not been served well as they seek to meet their full potential.
I look forward to working with you,
and those you represent,
in the hard,
important work that lies ahead.