Ricardo R. Fernández became the second president of Lehman College on September 1, 1990, and is the longest-serving among CUNY's twenty-three current presidents. Throughout his tenure, he has expanded the College’s commitment both to educational excellence and to access to higher education for the economically disadvantaged.
Directing the College's growth and strategic direction, Dr. Fernández has encouraged the development of new majors and degree programs, including an undergraduate degree in business (B.B.A.) and graduate degrees in public health (M.P.H.), social work (M.S.W.), and business (M.S.B). To support programs in the arts and sciences, as well as in the professions, he has focused on expanding the College's technological infrastructure and facilities. These range from a $15 million Information Technology Center (1999) to a $17 million campus-wide fire, security, and communication system (2003), and, most recently, a $16 million Multimedia Center (2010) that supports programs in journalism and new media. To consolidate the College's many programs and research projects in the sciences—and to attract students who might not otherwise have considered careers in these fields—he advocated for the development of a $69 million Phase I science building, the largest single academic investment in Lehman's history. Scheduled for completion in 2012, it will be CUNY's first "green" science facility and represents the first phase of a three-phase complex that will create a "campus within a campus" devoted to study and research in the sciences.
Under his leadership, the College has significantly increased the level of grant-funded research, extended its educational partnerships into the international arena, and become a major resource for the economic, cultural, and educational development of the Bronx. During his tenure, Lehman has begun innovative, collaborative programs with Bronx public high schools in such areas as teaching, the arts, nursing, and the health sciences. In partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the High School for American Studies at Lehman College was established in 2002, and it has been ranked for three consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's top 100 high schools.
Dr. Fernández is a Trustee of the New York Botanical Garden; Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center; Wave Hill, a Bronx public garden and cultural center; the Riverdale Mental Health Association; and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the boards of directors of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) in San Antonio, Texas; Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy (META); and the Hispanic Educational Technology Services Telecommunication System (HETS), a national distance learning consortium of more than twenty colleges and universities. He was a member of the PepsiCo/Frito-Lay Corporation (North America) Latino/Hispanic Advisory Board (2003-2007) and the Governing Board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and was chair of the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for the nation's’ higher education institutions (2007-2008).
The recipient of numerous recognitions, Dr. Fernández received the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2011), ASPIRA Education Award (2011), the Latino Trendsetter Award (2010), and an honorary doctorate (2009) from Sungshin Women's University of Seoul, South Korea, with which Lehman has established a dual-degree program. In 2007, Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of "The 100 Most Influential Hispanics," and in 2004 he was selected by Crain's New York Business as one of New York City's 100 Most Powerful Minority Business Leaders.
Dr. Fernández received a bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a master's degree in Spanish Literature from Marquette University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University. From 1973 until 1990, he was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he rose to the position of Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies. He was an American Council of Education Fellow in Academic Administration in 1981-82, as well as a Research Fellow at the National Center for Effective Secondary Schools at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986-87, and he attended the Harvard Institute for Educational Management in 1992.
Dr. Fernández and his wife, Patricia, live in the Bronx, New York.
Last modified: Dec 17, 2012