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Lehman College

President Ricardo R. Fernández's BiographyPresident Ricardo Fernandez

Ricardo R. Fernández became the second president of Lehman College on September 1, 1990, and is the longest-serving among CUNY’s twenty-four current presidents. Throughout his tenure, he has expanded the College’s commitment both to educational excellence and to access to higher education for the economically disadvantaged.

Directing the College’s growth and strategic direction, Dr. Fernández has encouraged the development of new majors and degree programs, including an undergraduate degree in business (BBA) and graduate degrees in social work (MSW), public health (MPH), and business (MS in Business). To support programs in the arts and sciences as well as in the professions, he has expanded the College’s technological infrastructure and facilities. These range from a $15 million Information Technology Center (1999); to a $17 million campus-wide fire, security, and communication system (2003); a $16 million Multimedia Center (2010) that supports programs in journalism and new media; and most recently Science Hall, a $70 million state-of-the-art research and teaching facility (2012). Science Hall is the largest single academic investment in Lehman’s history and represents the first phase of a three-phase complex that will create a “campus within a campus” devoted to study and research in the sciences. In 2013, a new $6.3 million Child Care Center, designed to meet the childcare needs of Lehman’s students opened its doors.

Dr. Fernández is also committed to integrating new technologies into the classroom experience as a way to enhance students’ educational experiences. Since the Spring 2013 semester, under his leadership, there has been a 40 percent growth in online/hybrid classes at the College. As of the Fall 2014 semester, nearly one quarter of all classes at Lehman College are either fully online, hybrid, or web-enhanced.

Under his leadership, the College has increased the level of grants and contracts, extended its educational partnerships into the international arena, and become a major resource for the economic, cultural, and educational development of the Bronx. In partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the High School for American Studies at Lehman College was established in 2002, and it has been ranked for three consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 100 high schools, and is routinely ranked among the very best public high schools in New York City.

Dr. Fernández is a Trustee of the New York Botanical Garden; Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center; Wave Hill, a Bronx public garden and cultural center; the Riverdale Mental Health Association; and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the boards of directors of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) in San Antonio, Texas; Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy (META); and the Hispanic Educational Technology Services (HETS), a distance learning consortium of thirty-six colleges and university systems in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. He was a member of the PepsiCo/Frito-Lay Corporation (North America) Latino/Hispanic Advisory Board (2003-2007). He has served as Chair of the board of directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for the nation’s higher education institutions (2007-2008) and of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). In 2013, he was named a Director of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

He is the recipient of numerous recognitions, including being named by Crain’s New York Business Magazine as one of the People to Watch in Higher Education in 2014;  the New York Immigration Coalition selected him for a Builder of the New New York Award (2013); he was given the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2011), ASPIRA Education Award (2011), and the Latino Trendsetter Award (2010). In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea, with which Lehman has established a dual-degree nursing program. In 2007, Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of “The 100 Most Influential Hispanics.” In 2004, he was selected by Crain's New York Business as one of New York City’s 100 Most Powerful Minority Business Leaders.

Dr. Fernández holds a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Spanish Literature from Marquette University, and an MA and PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University. From 1970 until 1990, he was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he rose to the position of Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies. He was an American Council of Education Fellow in Academic Administration in 1981-82, as well as a Research Fellow at the National Center for Effective Secondary Schools at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986-87. He attended the Harvard Institute for Educational Management in 1992.

Dr. Fernández and his wife, Patricia, live in the Bronx, New York.