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Lehman College: City University of New York
May 1, 2017

A Message from Lehman College President José Luis Cruz

Although I am still waiting for the full materialization of springtime, my thoughts are racing ahead to the end of the semester and my first Commencement exercises here at Lehman College. As we make these seasonal transitions and prepare to celebrate college-wide accomplishments, I wanted to update you on my activities in the past six weeks.

State of the College

I delivered my first “State of the College” address as president of Lehman College on March 27 and took the opportunity to encapsulate our mission and report, with great pride, on the progress this institution is making. I also announced a “grand challenge” to double the number of high-quality degrees and credentials that Lehman students are expected to earn by the year 2030—an effort that would result in 90,000 degrees and credentials. I’m calling this initiative “90 by 30,” and look forward to continued conversation on how we can best organize and resource our work to meet the challenge. (Here is a link to the “State of the College,” in case you missed it. Also, you can read a text of the speech.)

50th Anniversary Preparations

We are making plans for friendraising and fundraising around the College’s 50th anniversary in 2018, and to widen our resources in this regard I met with Constellation Advancement LLC principal Chris Cloud and his associate Sean Collins on March 29, and again on April 19. In the past several weeks, Constellation has been meeting with faculty, staff, and alumni to obtain valuable information needed to craft a compelling case summary for the advancement of Lehman College. A conceptual path forward was shared with the College’s Development Steering Committee on April 26. Additional information is forthcoming.

Shared Governance

On March 28, I met with our PSC colleagues in our first labor management meeting of the semester. Last week, I was pleased to preside over a FP&B meeting; participate in a meeting of the General Faculty; and attend the UFS Conference on Shared Governance, which was hosted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

On April 5, I attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Lehman College Foundation. Lehman’s Student Government Association President Gentian Muhaxheri and I had one of our regular meetings on April 19, and the following day I participated in a training session with the NYS Inspector General, along with several other Lehman administrators, department chairs, and staff members.

On April 21 I met with Dr. Gillian Bayne, associate professor in the College’s School of Education, regarding a panel discussion on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity that took place at Lehman a month before. And last week, I participated in a Safe Zone Ally training session alongside members of the President’s Cabinet.

Campus Events

On March 18, I spoke at the NYC Writing Project Teacher to Teacher (T2T) Conference and helped introduce the keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher Emdin, leader of the #HipHopEd movement. The Writing Project is a long-standing program of the Institute for Literary Studies here at Lehman, which provides professional development in literacy and mathematics to K-12 educators in urban settings.

My wife, Dr. Rima Brusi, and I were fortunate to attend the “Manus Unidas Para Giovanni Hidalgo” benefit concert on March 22 at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. The next day I offered welcoming remarks at a reception for the thought-provoking “Alien Nations” exhibition at the Lehman College Art Gallery. The exhibition is co-curated by Miami-based artist Yuneikys Villalonga and Gallery Director Bartholomew Bland.

Two days later, I offered welcoming remarks at the Spanish Language / Literature Academic Symposium, an event that Professor Marco Ramírez from the Department of Languages and Literature, chair of the symposium’s organizing committee, is hoping to host every two years at Lehman. The proceedings of the symposium will be included in the Lehman-based online journal CiberLetras.

On March 29, I attended the LGBTQ+ Alliance kick-off event as a guest of the organization’s faculty advisor, Professor Olivia Moy, and then participated in the ribbon-cutting of the Herbert H. Lehman Food Pantry.

On April 21, I attended the 37th annual Arthur Sweeny Jr. Memorial Lecture and was pleased to meet with the keynote speaker, Dr. Lisa C. Klein from Rutgers University.

Brimming with Lehman pride, I was able to speak to the newly accepted first-year and transfer students at a special reception on April 22 hosted by the Department of Admissions and Recruitment.

On April 24 I welcomed Lehman community members and honored guests to an event we have been eagerly awaiting—a celebration and recognition of Professor Duane Tananbaum and his recently published work, Herbert H. Lehman: A Political Biography

Fortunate as I am, I found an hour’s time on April 25 to enjoy a refreshing, toe-tapping performance by the Lehman College Faculty Jazz Quintet. The next day, I was pleased to provide remarks at our annual Lehman College Foundation Scholarship Dinner and to celebrate with our graduating students at their Senior Ball.

On April 27, I provided remarks at our annual Administrative Professionals Breakfast, and later that evening was pleased to provide remarks at the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony and to accept honorary membership in this prestigious liberal arts honor society.

Public Affairs and External Relations

Like all of us who have seen it, I was inspired by the short new video touting Lehman College that was shown at the “State of the College” event. (In case you missed it, here is a link to the video.) I recorded my audio part for the video on March 16 and the talented staff and students of the MultiMedia Center worked tirelessly to add visuals and musical score to the narrative.

On March 20-21, I attended the Presidential Subgroup meeting of the Anchor Institute Task Force in Omaha, Nebraska, and upon my return to New York on March 22 met with Sandi Vito, the executive director of the 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds, to discuss our collaborations with workforce development.

On March 24, I attended a meeting with Dr. Vinton Thompson, president of Metropoltian College of New York, to discuss foster youth programs and college-supported housing. Also attending this meeting were two Lehman colleagues—Assistant Vice President of Campus Planning & Facilities Rene Rotolo and Student Life Specialist Janelle Hill. Later in the day, I met with NYS Senator Marisol Alcantara to discuss the CUNY 2017-2018 Budget Request.

I attended the 2017 SOMOS Albany Conference on March 25, where I was able to have coffee with student leaders, participate in workshops related to higher education and meet with colleagues and associates from across the CUNY and SUNY networks at a luncheon before watching some of the Model Senate session. Our Lehman College representatives did a wonderful job; I see the future of New York State’s government leadership will be in good hands!

Lehman College alumnus Jeffrey Menkes, who is System Senior Vice President of Network Development at Montefiore Medical Center here in the Bronx, met with me and several colleagues on March 30 to discuss possible areas of collaboration.

Lehman College’s plan for its accreditation review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education continue apace, and on April 18 I received a visit from Middle States’ Vice President Tito Guerrero, III, and after our meeting we were joined by CUNY Trustee (and former Bronx Borough President) Fernando Ferrer. Later that day, I participated in a conference call with the members of the CUNY Presidents’ Working Group on Faculty Diversity, on which I serve as a co-chair.

On April 19, I met with Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, then attended a board meeting of the New York Botanical Garden the following day. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Jarrod Mabry, Principal of the Celia Cruz High School.

The Excelsior Scholarship initiative included in the 2018 New York State Budget raised interest in the media concerning its “tuition-free” promise—and stipulations—for residents. I was interviewed to talk about the initiative on April 10 by NY1 Noticias, and again the following day by Univision, where I appeared on the network’s noon news program, “Noticiero Univision Edición Digital.”

Herbert H. Lehman Memorial Lecture

A reminder: the 48th annual Herbert H. Lehman Memorial Lecture takes place at 11 AM on Friday, May 5 in the Lovinger Theatre, and this year our speaker is Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who represents a good portion of the Bronx, including Lehman College. The first Dominican-American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, he will be talking about his journey to Congress, supporting equity-driven policies and his legislative agenda for the next 100 days. You may want to put this noteworthy event on your calendar.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you around campus!

José Luis Cruz
President, Lehman College
The City University of New York