Letter from the President: Celebrating the Class of 2014 and the Launch of the Bronx Business Bridge

President Ricardo R. Fernández

For the 24th year, I had the distinct privilege of presiding over Lehman College’s annual Commencement ceremony. It is always a very special day, and the morning of May 29, with clear skies and a radiant sun, matched the glow from the faces of the graduates and their family members.

It was one of the largest graduating classes in the history of Lehman College – 2,800. This class heads out into a world that is changing by the day and it is nearly certain that the members of the Class of 2014 will not complete their careers in the same job in which they begin their careers. But I am confident the knowledge and skills acquired at Lehman College will serve them well in navigating and adjusting to those changes. As their careers evolve and develop, they will continue to learn. As I reminded them, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

I also had the pleasure of conferring three honorary degrees for contributions to culture, the arts, and science in the Bronx: Valerie Capers, musician and educator; William Aguado, former Executive Director of the Bronx Council on the Arts; and Michael J. Balick, V.P. for Botanical Science and Director and Philecology Curator of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

We recognized Katina Rojas Joy, Deputy Director of the Business Liaison Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce with the 2014 Alumni Achievement Award; Professor Marie Marianetti of the Department of History as Teacher of the Year; and Professor Wilma Borrelli of the Department of Sociology as Adjunct Teacher of the Year.

As the Class of 2014 completes its Lehman College journey, another group of students is about to embark. The Bronx Business Bridge, expected to open in August, is preparing to welcome 30 entrepreneurs and beginning business owners. Supported by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and administered through our School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Bronx Business Bridge will connect New Yorkers – especially Bronx residents – with workspace, equipment, and capital. It is an approach that will assure participants of affordable co-working space, and create an environment where they can develop and nurture their dreams, lifting up our community in the process. Keep an eye out for information sessions this month.

Also contributing to the economic and social value of our community is the growing awareness of technology and open data, and Lehman College plays a significant role. The College is pioneering the city’s first neighborhood specific data portal, Lehman Community Connect: Bronx Information Portal. It is a map-based platform that allows easy access to public data and Lehman College information. Administered by our Division of Information Technology, the Bronx Information Portal is a “digital public square” enriching both the classroom experience and service initiatives.

As a result of this innovation, Lehman was again selected to take part in NYC Big Apps 2014, an annual competition attracting hundreds of teams seeking to solve problems with technology.

Innovations like these and programs like the Bronx Business Bridge are what make Lehman College a leader in giving residents and students opportunities they may not otherwise receive – opportunities to stretch their imaginations and expectations and achieve the American dream.