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January 27, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

I wish you a warm welcome if you are new to Lehman College this semester, and if you are returning, welcome back! I hope that you have found the early days of 2020 to be promising.

There have been a number of developments impacting our campus community since last semester, including the earthquakes that have added to Hurricane Maria’s damage in Puerto Rico. I want to express my deep, ongoing concern for those in affected areas of the island, as well as for those of you who have family who are still dealing with power outages and more.

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, in partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, is leading a CUNY-wide effort to coordinate relief efforts in response to requests from several organizations. We are part of that effort, and I want to encourage you to send me information about any additional relief endeavors, or your willingness to volunteer for such efforts, at President.Lemons@lehman.cuny.edu. I’m looking forward to learning more about how each of you may be contributing to ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

On the mainland, it is an understatement to say that we live in politically charged times. At Lehman College we will not become complacent about our intention to foster an environment of equality that is respectful of difference and promotes civil discourse; that determination arises from our legacy and is articulated in our mission. At Lehman College, hateful speech or the targeting for attack of ethnic, racial or other groups, anonymous or otherwise, will always be strongly denounced. We support free speech on our campus, but there are limits which are breached when speech of any kind disrupts or threatens our academic programs.

In the fast-moving weeks of winter break, I have continued to focus on fundraising efforts for the College by spreading the word to elected officials, donors and potential donors about the quality of a Lehman College education. Lehman College is often touted as an engine for social and economic mobility, and I frequently utilize that apt metaphor to describe this special college. I’d like us to consider another analogy in 2020, one that my background as a biologist led me to. I’ve been thinking about our campus as a catalytic site.

For those of you who are a little rusty on your chemistry, a catalytic site is a locus that is structured in such a way that chemical reactions there are dramatically speeded up. Life is only possible because of a multitude of such sites in every cell. We are a catalytic place when the key aspects of the College community together to create an environment of support, encouragement and high-quality education that accelerates student success. The result is an extraordinary bettering of the lives of students, staff and faculty. A major part of our job as faculty, staff and administrators is to continually improve our catalytic environment. Students play a key role by sharing their experiences, and informing those efforts.

I am encouraged by the great potential and hope that is embedded in this metaphor. I hope you find it energizing as you head into the spring semester.

Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.