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This Week At Lehman Graphic
Office of the Provost's email digest—Spring 2018
Welcome to the first edition of our eDigest for spring 2018:

While we put the eDigest on hiatus during January, it was not because of campus inactivity. Winter term was filled with courses that helped students make progress toward degree completion, professional opportunities for faculty, and student traffic in administrative offices. And, of course, it is a month when faculty may be in the library, offices, field sites, or elsewhere attending to their own scholarship and planning for the next semester. Lehman was also the site of a “first” for CUNY: The first time that all 18 community and senior colleges came together to figure out how the University could make dramatic improvements in access and completion.

We hosted the CUNY Momentum Planning Summit on January 18th and 19th. Teams representing enrollment, academic affairs, and student affairs on their campuses convened to learn from Complete College America fellows and one another during two days of intensive discussion. We had already received positive feedback on our initial ideas for developing degree maps, improving our gateway courses in mathematics and English, and socializing the idea of undergraduates taking 30 semester hours a year in order to graduate in four years. The time together with external consultants and CUNY colleagues sharpened our thinking. We hope to invite one of the CCA fellows, Dr. Larry Abele, to campus during the spring semester so that we can engage the entire community in our efforts to get more students to the finish line. In addition to the members of our three working groups, largely made up of administrators, 12 faculty have expressed an interest in putting finishing touches on Momentum plans.

Volunteering to work on Momentum plans was only one outcome of the Second Annual Faculty Retreat (Mentoring Our Students, Mentoring Ourselves). Over 100 Lehman faculty, administrators, and staff spent the day at Wave Hill learning about new College initiatives and networking with colleagues. While I have not had a chance to conduct a careful analysis of evaluation data, a quick scan indicates that 100% of the participants were able to accomplish five of the six outcomes established for the retreat and overall ratings trended toward 4/5 on a 1-5 scale (with 1= waste of time and 5= very helpful). Pictures from the day can be found on SmugMug, and several of the day’s PowerPoint presentations are available online.

My New Year’s resolution was to take advantage of at least one of the professional development workshops provided by our Office of Online Education. Along with 25 colleagues, I enrolled in “Preparation for Teaching Online,” co-taught by Olena Zhadko and Sherry Deckman. Not only did I refresh, refine, and expand my online toolkit and work with colleagues across the campus, but I also had the lived experience of handling work, school, and family (no small feat). I was the prototypical returning adult student; I fussed because I wanted to make sure that I got all the points allocated for every assignment (I did not). My instructors told me that I was no bother (definitely not true) and that I made positive contributions (possibly true).

While there were many bright spots during January, there was a somber reminder that we live in mean-spirited times. In a recent Inside Higher Ed/Gallup survey of chief academic officers, “59 percent of provosts believe that academics are being ‘unfairly attacked’ by conservative websites and politicians. And 29 percent said that those attacks included professors at their own institutions.” The article goes on to say that 36 percent “fear that professors at their own institutions could become targets of campaigns against their own ideas.” Until yesterday, I would have read the blog with interest, shaken my head, and gone on with my day. These findings became intensely personal when one of our colleagues, Sherry Deckman, was targeted by the right wing media. A writer in CUNY’s Office of Media and Marketing noticed that Dr. Deckman’s article, “Numbers are just not enough: A Critical analysis of race, gender, and sexuality in elementary and middle school health textbooks,” has received attention on Campus Reform, a site designed to expose liberal bias in the academy, and the Daily Caller, an ultra-conservative news blog. So far, Sherry has not been singled out by zealots whose life’s work is to silence diverse voices. If by chance, you, like Sherry, find yourself in this type of situation, please contact Karen Crowe in Media Relations and Dennis DaCosta, Legal Counsel, so that they can assist you.

The highs and lows of January strengthen my resolve to focus on the important work that we do here. Lehman is mission-critical for our students and our community. We can—and do—make a difference.

Niki Fayne
The Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is the College's chief academic officer. The Provost is responsible for all educational programs, as well as for academic issues that relate to the faculty, including appointments, promotions, and evaluations. She also is responsible for preparing accreditation reviews, strategic planning, and the review of division and departmental budgets. Questions? Email alison.abreu@lehman.cuny.edu or call 718-960-8222.