Lehman at 50: Advancing Scholarship, Opportunity and Community
Message from President José Luis Cruz
April 10, 2018 - This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Herbert H. Lehman College of The City University of New York. I feel very fortunate to serve as president at this time, as this remarkable milestone gives me even more reason to express my pride in this most noble institution, both for its role as an enduring anchor institution in the Bronx and as an engine of opportunity for tens of thousands of students.
The story of how Lehman came to exist, and how it has evolved over the last half-century, is most compelling. Lehman’s story is the story of the rebellious faculty of Hunter in the Bronx, who gained their independence from Hunter on Park Avenue, and went on to transform what was then a 37-year-old branch campus — with its own illustrious history— into what today is one of our country’s premier public urban-serving institutions. An institution which has in turn transformed the lives of over 75,000 alumni and impacted hundreds of thousands of others through its educational, cultural, and community outreach programs and events. An institution which today is privileged to educate more than 13,000 talented students who embody the aspirations of over 140 different ancestries, and who exhibit the drive of those who strive to make their life here, in the world’s greatest City, the City of New York.
Lehman’s story is the story of a liberal arts college that upon its founding hoped to "enrich the human spirit and offer to as many as [could] realize their potential, the opportunity to be so enriched." A college that today — notwithstanding the growth of its professional programs — remains fiercely committed to extending the benefits of a liberal education to all of its students, regardless of the course of study they choose to pursue.
Lehman’s story is the story of a community — of teachers, scholars, and learners — who over time rejected an insular identity, and instead embraced the role it was (in hindsight) always destined to play — the role of a quintessential anchor institution in the Bronx. An anchor institution that recognizes that its past, present, and future— and that of the borough it calls home — are inextricably intertwined. A recognition that represents a cause for optimism and a source of confidence; and a call for thoughtful, intentional action. Read More
View a full listing of year-long events beginning with the Lehman Lecture on April 10th and the College Gala on April 11th. See All Upcoming Events
Lehman College: Commemorating 50 Years in the Bronx
President Cruz introduces the “90 x 30” initiative to double the number of high-quality degrees and credentials to 90,000 that Lehman students are expected to earn by 2030. It is anticipated that increasing the number of Bronx residents with a postsecondary education will lead to wider prosperity, increased civic participation, and improved physical and mental health. Visit the "90 x 30" Initiative
2017: A Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Training Academy and Development Lab opens at CUNY on the Concourse.
A Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Training Academy and Development Lab opens at CUNY on the Concourse, a partnership between Lehman College and Eon Reality, Inc. First cohort of students begin the intensive 12-week program. . . . .
2017: A New Study Places Lehman College #4 in the Top Ten Colleges Nationwide With the Highest "Mobility Rate"
A new study places Lehman College #4 in the top ten colleges nationwide with the highest "mobility rate," a statistic that matches a college’s share of students from lower-income families with its success at “propelling” graduates upwards into the country’s top 40 percent of wage earners.
Appointed as Lehman’s third President by the CUNY Board of Trustees, Dr. José Luis Cruz begins his tenure in August 2016. Prior to his appointment at CUNY, President Cruz served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University, Fullerton; Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C.; Vice President for Student Affairs of the University of Puerto Rico system; and Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.
2016: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers the 47th Annual Herbert H. Lehman Memorial Lecture
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers the 47th Annual Herbert H. Lehman Memorial Lecture, making him the second Secretary-General to visit Lehman College.
2015: President Barack Obama visits Lehman College and announces the launch of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance
President Barack Obama visits Lehman College and announces the launch of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit foundation that aims to address persistent inequities faced by young males of color.
2015: Lehman College’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies opens its new Information Technology Innovation Lab at CUNY on the Concourse.
2014: CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies renamed the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute.
2013: Lehman receives the only “official” replica of an Olmec Head in the United States.
The statue—a replica of “The King,” the first such sculpture to be unearthed in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, Veracruz, Mexico, in 1964—was a gift from Mexico to celebrate the first anniversary of the CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies, which is housed at the College.
2013: The Lehman College Child Care Center opens and is the first dedicated facility across CUNY to meet the childcare needs of students
Lehman College first offered child care off-campus in 1971, and then on-campus in 1985.
After four years of construction, the College’s new Science Hall, a state-of-the-art research and teaching facility, is dedicated in a ceremony attended by CUNY officials and the Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., a Lehman alumnus. The 210,000 sq. ft. structure later receives CUNY’s first LEED Platinum certification from the U. S. Green Building Council. . . . . . . .
2011: Lehman’s newly created Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies hosts its inaugural event—a day-long conference on immigration reform and immigrants’ rights.
Its second conference, three months later, brings together international advocates to stop the violence against women in Guatemala.
Located in Carman Hall, Lehman College's Multimedia Center is the first state-of-the-art facility of its kind in the Bronx. The $16 million, 22,000-square foot facility includes graphic workstations for art students; an all-digital newsroom and custom-built broadcasting studio for multimedia journalism students; eight rooms of editing suites; and a computerized music studio for filming and recording. . . . . . . . . . . .
2009: The CUNY Institute for Health Equity opens at Lehman.
2006: The College Library is named in honor of President Emeritus Leonard Lief.
The College Library is named in honor of President Emeritus Leonard Lief, the founding president of Lehman College (1968-1990), who is praised for shaping the College’s faculty, curriculum, and campus building projects. Dr. Lief passes away the following year.
2002: The High School of American Studies at Lehman College opens.
It is regularly ranked as one the top high schools nationwide by U. S. News & World Report.) Lehman begins partnerships with four other new high schools as well.
2000: Bronx Small Business Development Center opens at Lehman
Since its start, the SBDC has counseled over 10,000 clients with an economic impact of over $100 million, creating over 2,100 local jobs and saving at least 880 others.
1994: The APEX, a $57 million sports and fitness center designed by Rafael Viñoly, opens.
A $57 million sports and fitness center designed by Rafael Viñoly, the APEX houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool, gymnasium and auxiliary gymnasium, racquetball courts, dance studios, weight and aerobic rooms, classrooms, and the Lehman College Athletic Hall of Fame.
1990: Dr. Ricardo R. Fernández becomes President of Lehman College
Dr. Ricardo R. Fernández becomes the College's second President. Under his leadership, Lehman adds a wide array of new majors and graduate programs, vastly overhauls its technological capabilities, and greatly expands its outreach to the Bronx community, especially its schools.center designed by Rafael Viñoly, the APEX houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool, gymnasium and auxiliary gymnasium, racquetball courts, dance studios, weight and aerobic rooms, classrooms, and the Lehman College Athletic Hall of Fame.
1980: Opening of Lehman Center for the Performing Arts
A performance by the New York Philharmonic opens Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. Designed by Jan Hird Pokorny and David F.M. Todd & Associates, the Center is the largest concert hall in the Bronx with seating for over 2,300 visitors. Critics hail its performance space as "acoustically perfect," and over the next three decades it becomes a premiere cultural destination, offering a range of programming from classical music and jazz to pop concerts.
1976: Campus Closed by Student Protests
As New York City teeters on the brink of financial disaster, life on all CUNY campuses is affected, including a halt to construction projects at Lehman. Students protest demands for the imposition of tuition-a first for CUNY-and several buildings are seized. In response, President Lief closes the campus.
1971: Opening of Carman Hall
The building houses classrooms, offices, and lecture halls for more than a dozen academic departments. In 1999, a state-of-the-art Information Technology Center is added, featuring nine microcomputer classrooms, an open lab area with over 100 microcomputers, and "Sonic Pass Blue," a work of public art by sound artist Christopher Janney that transforms a walkway into a "synaesthetic environment" capturing the interaction between sounds and pedestrians.
1970: Inauguration of the Herbert H. Lehman Memorial Lecture Series
Former U.S. Attorney Ramsey Clark is the first speaker. He will be followed in later years by a variety of distinguished men and women from the arts, government, education, and international affairs, including several former U.S. Senators and college presidents.
July 1, 1968: Establishment of Lehman College
Following a twenty-minute ceremony, Herbert H. Lehman College comes into existence, the first — and still the only — CUNY senior college in the Bronx. Dr. Leonard A. Lief, a faculty member in the English Department when the campus was Hunter-in-the-Bronx, becomes its first President, a position he holds for more than twenty years. A new campus library, opened in 1980, is dedicated in his honor in May 2006.
April 11, 1961: CUNY is Born
The City University of New York is created. With the stroke of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller's pen, New York's seven-college municipal higher education system, with new Ph.D. - granting authority, is organized into one interconnected organization. Although the University can trace its roots back to 1847, when the Free Academy was founded, CUNY - then the nation's largest public university system-marks a significant moment in the history of higher education in New York City. The mission of the University - to educate 'the children of the whole people' - continues on.
After two world wars in twenty-five years, the United Nations was an idea whose time had come. While searching for more permanent accommodations, the nascent U.N. settles on the Bronx campus, with the Gym Building transformed into the chambers of both the U.N. Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. The campus becomes the "diplomatic center of the universe," as the U.N. deals with crises in Iran, Greece, Spain, Indonesia, Syria, and Lebanon. Work begins in a newly created Division of Human Rights, led by Eleanor Roosevelt, which eventually culminates in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. . . . . . .
February 1943: The WAVES Report for Duty
With the United States entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt institutes a new division of the Armed Forces-the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service)-marking the first time that women are able to serve in the American military. For three years, nearly 81,000 women are trained on the campus as decoders, navigators, and mechanics.
Hunter College, then known as the Normal College, opens the first of four Gothic-style buildings-Gillet Hall. Plans for Greek temples complete with Doric columns originally inspired the campus design, but plans are scaled back by the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Construction on the remaining three buildings-Davis Hall, the Gymnasium (now called the Old Gym Building), and the Student Building Student Hall (now the Music Building)-is finished by 1934. . . .