Having trouble reading this?
 / View in Browser
February 5, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

With spring semester now in full swing, December may feel like a distant memory. It was a full month of activity for me and Mary. I had the great fortune to begin the holiday season by participating in a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Bronx Community College, not singing, but reading a recitative. And of course, we had a joyous afternoon at the wonderful holiday party on campus, which Rene Rotolo and Alice Jenkins coordinated to perfection.

Before taking a break to visit my family in Berlin, I attended a number of meetings related to shared governance, including two City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees meetings. I met with iMentor about the potential for establishing a program on campus to shepherd high school students into the freshman class and then through their first year. Lehman College had the privilege of hosting the Bronx Borough President’s office for an information session for schools in the Bronx that hope to prepare capital funding requests to the New York City Council through RESO A.

There have also been some internal shifts. The work of Institutional Research has been placed entirely under the auspices of Provost Nwosu, leaving Assistant Vice President Jonathan Gagliardi to focus his efforts on strategic initiatives, planning and special projects. Among the latter has been the supplemental report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which is a follow up to our re-accreditation last spring. Jonathan also organizes the Cabinet and President’s Advisory Board meetings, our reporting into the Performance Management Process and other reporting, while lending his deep higher education experience and insight to many forward-looking initiatives at Lehman.

One of the highlights of January was attending the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, “Shaping the Future of Higher Education: An Invitation to Lead.” There were a number of very valuable plenaries and symposiums inviting leaders in higher education to consider how we can begin to think about real solutions to inequity, one of the mega challenges of our age. As a member of the AAC&U Presidents’ Trust I took in a day and a half of informative and highly relevant sessions.

In one of those sessions I learned more about the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE), from Nancy Thomas, the director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University, which conducts the study. The NSLVE study found that Lehman students' voting rate is 53 percent, a whopping thirteen points higher than the national college student average. I also learned more about the nuances of that engagement. For example, I learned that nationally, student voting jumped from 19 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in 2018, both mid-term elections. Perhaps most relevant for our campus, Thomas noted that Black women vote more reliably than any other racial or gender group, and Hispanic women logged the greatest gains between 2014 and 2018.

Several sessions dealt with confronting hate speech and white supremacy, and how critical it is for institutions of higher education to act as leaders in modelling the best approaches to navigating the currently charged political environment with regards to free speech and academic freedom. The goals of free speech and academic freedom are in sync, but they are not totally overlapping in what they address or how they are protected.

Equality and equity, particularly with regard to race, are aspirations where there is still so much to do, and Shaun Harper, who leads the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center, delivered a compelling, information-rich, opening plenary based on the Center’s studies on campus racial climate studies.

His team has found that most of the nation’s campuses lack literacy on race and that manifests in several ways: Curricula and classrooms rarely, if at all, mention race directly; very little is known or understood about how students and faculty experience race on campus and there is often unacknowledged racial tension among colleagues. Making real progress toward remedying these realities requires a consistent denouncing of white supremacy, not only in its most extreme forms, but also in its more insidious ways of entering the mainstream discourse. He advocated making curricular and pedagogical decisions that lead to strengthened racial literacy. A major take away is that each of us needs to become more highly skilled and courageous in matters of race. In the next In Depth, I will share more about some efforts that are underway and ongoing related to where Lehman College stands with regard to diversity and equity.

Celebrating Excellence

January ushered in not only a new year and a new decade, but also wonderful new opportunities for Lehman College. The Lehman College School of Education kicked off the new year with the launch of its Lehman Urban Transformation Education (LUTE)-STEM program, an urban residency initiative that prepares early childhood, elementary and secondary school teachers in the fields of science, technology and mathematics. I’ve mentioned the principal investigator for that project here in the past, Niki Fayne; you can learn more about the five-year initiative launch here.

The Braven program which is meant to bolster and sharpen targeted mentorship and networking skills for juniors and seniors is officially underway at Lehman College, and was mentioned in a good article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) a $2.5 million two-year Intermediaries for Scale grant to accelerate transformation and bolster student achievement and degree completion strategies. The grant supports AASCU’s Pilot Cohort Initiative in which Lehman College is one of five AASCU member institutions – along with Austin Peay State University, Bowie State University, California State University, San Bernadino and Northwest Missouri State.

Lehman College was also selected as the lead institution to develop curriculum and support workshops in collaboration with our sister CUNY institutions Queens College, Baruch College, City Tech and the College of Staten Island as part of a $100,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation. The workshops are intended to introduce small business owners to emerging technologies and provide practical business applications. As part of the grant, Verizon employees will meet with small business owners they’re matched with over a period of six months.

We continue to have many things to be proud of. The most recent is the designation of Lehman College’s Speech Pathology and Social Work programs on the 2020 Best Colleges list published by GradReports.com -- rankings that are based on median early-career salary data of over five million graduates from the U.S. Department of Education’s resource, College Scorecard. GradReports.com ranked our Master’s program in Speech Pathology tenth in its rankings; the Social Work Master’s and Bachelor’s degree programs were ranked 22nd and 25th, respectively.


In January, I met with nine lawmakers and legislative staff in Albany to discuss the importance of their ongoing support of Lehman and CUNY. Along with other CUNY Bronx college presidents, I will continue my efforts to build support for the CUNY 2021 budget request which includes additional funding for curriculum innovation, student health and wellness, career readiness, renovation of key areas of the campus, and other priorities.

I discussed similar topics with representatives from the offices of Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Liz Krueger, Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblyman Jamaal Bailey. I also had the opportunity to meet with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Assemblywoman Karines Reyes and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick to discuss the CUNY budget.

Our Bronx legislators know very well the value of a Lehman education and the overall value of CUNY. Majority Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is as committed as we are to adequate funding for CUNY. I conveyed to her and our other legislators that the latest CUNY budget request is an opportunity to reset and move forward under the new administration of Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez.

Last Thursday evening, I welcomed a full house in the Faculty Dining Room as we hosted the Bronx Senate Delegation’s budget hearings. Senators Alessandra Biaggi, Gustavo Rivera, José Serrano and Luis Sepúlveda all listened and responded for almost two hours to requests for support from a variety of Bronx organizations and individual residents.

I look forward to continuing to advocate for funding for the next fiscal year and sharing the results of that effort with you as the semester progresses.

Shared Governance

  • February 5th - Council of Presidents
  • February 5th - Lehman College Senate
  • February 19th - Cabinet Meeting
  • February 26nd - President’s Advisory Board

Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.