The President's Letter
February 1, 2010
CONTINUED GROWTH IN KEY AREAS AND EMPHASIS ON STUDENT SUCCESS REENFORCE LEHMAN'S LEADING ROLE IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Lehman College begins this new decade prepared to face our latest challenges and poised to embrace fresh opportunities. Both are contained in Governor Paterson's proposed Executive Budget, written against the backdrop of New York's ongoing fiscal difficulties. On the one hand, the document recommends reductions in support for CUNY at a time when enrollments at Lehman and elsewhere in the University continue to rise; on the other hand, it offers tools that, if enacted, would give CUNY more financial control and operational flexibility—and thus greater ability to manage these reductions. These proposals include a differential tuition program that would allow tuition to be set for individual campuses or for particular programs.
As we pay careful attention to the legislative debate on these measures, the College will continue to plan for the future:
- The final report of the Strategic Planning Council, which considers the mission and growth of the College through 2019, will contribute significantly in that process. The Council, chaired by Professor Ira Bloom (Political Science), held two "Town Hall" meetings last fall and met with faculty and student governance leaders to receive comments on its draft report. You will hear more about the plan and its initiatives as the spring semester unfolds.
- Lehman is also intent on building a "greener" and healthier environment. Another council—Lehman's Sustainability Council, led by Rene Rotolo, assistant vice president for Campus Planning and Facilities—has created a ten-year sustainability plan designed to meet Mayor Bloomberg's "30 in 10 Challenge." The plan builds on Lehman's already-strong commitment to environmental stewardship and commits the College to a reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions of at least 30 percent by the year 2017. This goal will be achieved through a broad range of actions, including the installation of motion-activated faucets in all campus restrooms and solar thermal panels on both the APEX and the new science facility; the purchase of additional electric and non-motorized vehicles for maintenance and worker transportation on the campus; and the establishment of a campus farmers' market.
While preparing for the future, our faculty and staff focus every day on delivering quality education to a rapidly growing group of students. This year's Winter Session saw a forty-one percent increase in enrollment over last year. At the same time, the Noyce Scholarship Program at Lehman, which seeks to encourage talented math and science majors to become K-12 math and science teachers, has recruited fifteen outstanding students for its 2010 cohort. These seniors will use the scholarship to finance graduate studies in middle and high school education at Lehman.
These figures confirm the quality of the programs that faculty and staff have worked hard to develop. New programs are on the horizon, as well:
- A new minor, Business for Liberal Arts Majors, recently approved by the College Senate, combines a traditional liberal arts education (including the natural and social sciences) with effective training in the business and/or not-for-profit sectors. Forty-five candidates have expressed interest in the program, which is supported by a generous grant from the PepsiCo Foundation, and will begin their coursework this semester.
- The first program of its kind in CUNY, the new master's in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) will prepare nurses who can address the pressing health disparities in our borough, work across the life continuum—treating patients ranging from children to the elderly—and focus on the assessment and management of chronic disease. Admission to the program is currently underway, and the first clinical course will be offered in the fall. Many graduates of Lehman's master's and certificate programs in nursing have already applied to the FNP program.
- The new Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science will accept its first cohort of students this spring. A major societal, economic, and health focus of the twenty-first century, this field is one of the country's fastest-growing employment sectors. An interdisciplinary program, it will be based in the Department of Environmental, Geographic, and Geological Sciences (EGGS) and draw faculty from the departments of biological sciences, chemistry, and physics and astronomy.
- EGGS has teamed up as well with the Department of History to create a new interdisciplinary, field-based course in mapping and archeology that will take place this summer in Crete, Greece. Developed by Drs. Yuri Gorokhovich (EGGS) and Marie Marianetti (History), it will teach students how to conduct field investigation and data analysis.
Building on the excellence of our programs, we will do more this semester to help students overcome the personal and academic challenges that impede their learning and their progress toward graduation. In response to a request from Chancellor Goldstein, the presidents of the senior colleges established and chaired task forces within their institutions to examine student retention and improve outcomes. The Lehman task force, which completed its report in late November, observed correctly that the issues we face have implications for the country in light of our large number of Hispanic students and the nation's changing demographic mix. Over the past five years, transfer students accounted for approximately fifty-seven percent of new Lehman students—and for slightly more than sixty percent of new students in Fall 2009. The College will begin implementing some of the task force's recommendations in the near future, including the opening of a Transfer Center, a one-stop location to address the needs of transfer students; the establishment of a Sophomore Success Program, which will use targeted advising to retain second-year students; and a College-wide initiative to improve retention.
What are some of the issues confronting our students? Adequate food and shelter are among the most basic of human needs and also among the most difficult to provide in difficult economic times. Add to that their need for tuition assistance. These issues will be addressed this semester in several ways:
- Through the University Hunger and Homelessness Initiative, the Division of Student Affairs will assist those students who do not have enough to eat.
- Through pilot grant funds from the LCU Foundation, the Division will make stipends available to female students who need help with housing. Serving women attending schools, colleges, and universities in New York City, the Foundation provides funds for housing in a place where academic institutions provide very few dormitories.
- The Office of Financial Aid has provided partial tuition waivers to more than 1,000 Lehman students and distributed over $100,000 in additional Work Study funding through CUNY Financial Aid Initiative funding.
- The Office also will help students develop their financial literacy through one-on-one counseling and workshops in topics like responsible borrowing, maintaining a financial aid package, and where to find scholarship opportunities.
While many Lehman students experience first-hand the financial problems facing New York families, they also have a strong desire to "give back" to their city and community and help improve life for their neighbors. Two new initiatives will mark the College's growing involvement in service efforts that engage the entire campus community:
- Lehman will join an initial group of eighteen colleges and universities participating in Mayor Bloomberg's "NYC Service College Challenge" to promote self-directed student volunteerism. Students, faculty, and staff may volunteer in any service project throughout the five boroughs via a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization or city agency or through projects coordinated by campus service offices. All volunteers will report their service hours on www.nyc.gov/service and earn points for their service.
- On a global scale, the new semester also begins with concern for the people of Haiti and a commitment to help them during this time of tragedy and heartbreak. The College community has come together through the Division of Student Affairs to organize a number of efforts, including a newly established Lehman College Haitian Relief Fund. All donations to the fund are tax-deductible and will be disbursed to the American Red Cross. Donations of clothing, non-perishables, and first-aid supplies are being accepted at locations across campus (Shuster Hall 204 and 208, Student Life Building 222, and the Student Health Center in the T-3 Building). In addition, the week of February 22-26 will feature a series of campus events organized by students, including a candlelight vigil and a benefit performance, aimed at raising awareness of the disaster and support for its victims. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about campus-wide relief efforts.
Whether using social networking sites to gather resources for humanitarian causes, such as help for Haiti, or turning at registration time to the College's growing array of online courses, technology is becoming a routine tool in more and more aspects of both our personal and professional lives. Proficiency in using various types of hardware, software, and other systems and tools is crucial to preparing students for the highly competitive environment they will enter after graduation. With that goal in mind, the College has expanded both its technological infrastructure and services:
- Forty additional classrooms are now equipped with projection and sound systems, bringing the total number of classrooms and meeting spaces with presentation technology to over 150.
- To prepare aspiring teachers for teaching in twenty-first-century classrooms, the Division of Education, in partnership with Tequipment, Inc., is piloting several intensive SmartBoard training cycles. During the Winter Session, ninety students in the Department of Middle and High School took the same five-session training program, tailored to their subject areas: mathematics, social studies, science, and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Four additional cycles will be offered this semester, with faculty and students studying and learning together and evaluating best practices for teaching.
- The Leonard Lief Library will introduce new loan services for calculators and eReaders, thanks to nearly $100,000 in Federal stimulus funds. Lehman is the first CUNY campus to offer eReaders. To supplement the devices, the Library plans to license OverDrive—another first within CUNY. This online resource offers extensive customizable print, audio, and multimedia content that can be downloaded to both eReaders and hand-held devices like iPods, iPhones, and Blackberries.
- On the administrative level, the new Lehman Online Management and Reporting System is expected to be up and running by the middle of this semester, which will make available daily electronic updates of departmental expenditures.
- Plans are underway to convert the campus wireless network into a "managed network," which will allow central monitoring of network performance and coverage and a transition to higher bandwidth to manage network traffic. These steps should produce improved reliability and performance for wireless access.
Supporting the creation of podcasts, videos, and other multimedia projects, the College's new $14 million Multimedia Center will be dedicated this spring. The Center features an audio sweetening room, media conversion lab, audio and video control rooms, and student newsrooms, which will be used for production, post-production, instruction, and research.
Elsewhere on campus, several renovation projects are moving forward:
- Nayyarsons, Lehman's new food service vendor, is renovating the Carman Hall cafeteria to create a salad bar, pizza counter, and deli case. Along with more varied offerings comes the option to pay for purchases greater than $5 by credit or debit card—an option available, as well, in the main student cafeteria and the Harmony Café.
- Funded by the Student Activity Fee, work on the Student Life Building will take place this summer and include a new HVAC system, renovations to the entrance and meeting spaces, new lighting, and additional club offices.
- The student cafeteria is being similarly redesigned to provide a more welcoming space.
- In Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, Phase Two of a new sound system installation is nearing completion, thanks to the support of Assemblyman José Rivera.
To help move these and other projects forward, searches for three senior administrative positions are underway or will soon begin:
- Following the retirement of Dr. Michael Paull, a committee has been established to conduct a search for the new dean of Adult and Continuing Education). The search, chaired by Dr. Robin Kunstler (Health Sciences), will conclude by the end of the spring semester.
- Vice President for Administration Derek C. Wheeler, who joined Lehman in 2001, will retire at the end of the spring semester, and a search for his successor has begun. Mr. Wheeler oversees the accounting, budget, business, campus facilities, human resources, payroll, and public safety functions and is responsible for developing many lasting innovations in these areas. The College is grateful to him for his dedicated service.
- The search for the Vice President/Chief Information Officer continues as well.
As these and other administrative activities go on "behind the scenes," the College community will again benefit from numerous speakers, artists, and performing groups that will enrich the campus this semester. Students, staff, and faculty alike—as well as the larger public—can look forward to a full range of cultural events:
- The annual Lehman Lecture, scheduled for March 25 at 11 a.m. in the Lovinger Theatre, will feature Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr., who will speak on "Religious Freedom." A grand nephew of Governor Herbert H. Lehman, Ambassador Loeb is a former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, a philanthropist, art collector, and chairman of John L. Loeb, Jr. Associates, Inc., Investment Counselors.
- Journalism, Communication, and Theatre Professor and Chair Patricio Lerzundi will present translated segments from Rostros/Faces on April 8 from 4-5 p.m. in the Library's Treehouse Conference Room (317). The book chronicles his interactions with prominent politicians, writers, and other personalities in the U.S. and Latin America.
- On April 22 from 4-5 p.m., the Library will host a reading and discussion in the Atrium with celebrated writer and Lehman alumnus André Aciman, who will read from his new novel Eight White Nights. Dr. Aciman is executive officer of the Doctoral Program in Comparative Literature and director of the Writers' Institute at the CUNY Graduate Center.
- The spring season at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts will bring affordable, outstanding music and dance to the College, including programs by such international artists as the Moscow Festival Ballet, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Dance Brazil. Plans are underway to extend the season into summer, so look for additional concerts this July and August. The Center's "We Love Kids" campaign, sponsored by Con Edison and featuring $10 tickets for children 12 and under, has been extremely successful in attracting young families from the community.
- The Lehman College Art Gallery will offer two extensive exhibits, running through May 4.Nature, Once Removed: The (Un)Natural World in Contemporary Drawing presents the work of twenty artists whose drawings mark a resurgence of interest in animals, plants, and landscapes.State of the Dao—Chinese Contemporary Art explores the social, political, and environmental changes of the new China, most notably those involving consumerism, pollution, and military expansion.
As all these programs and initiatives illustrate, the uncertain economic situation has not dampened our vision or our spirit. I am confident that we will continue to meet our goals of preparing students, strengthening the community, and serving as an educational leader in the region. May each of you find inspiration this semester in our collective dedication to higher education and in our commitment to both individual and institutional excellence.
Ricardo R. Fernández, President
Herbert H. Lehman College
The City University of New York