Letter from the President: The CUNY Budget and a New Nursing Facility

Spring has sprung and we are finally beginning to see warmer temperatures after such a harsh winter. With spring comes a clearer picture of the 2014 – 2015 budget after an agreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Senate and Assembly. The budget includes improvements to the operating and capital budgets of Lehman College and the City University of New York (CUNY), and programming that will strengthen the opportunities for students.

President Ricardo R. Fernández

The highlight for Lehman College is $22 million for construction of the new Nursing Education and Research Center (in addition to $20 million previously secured through capital funding). The new building is part of a master plan intended to improve facilities for both health care studies and scientific research at Lehman College.

For decades,  nursing programs  have been  located in temporary quarters on the northwest corner of campus. A new permanent facility is to be constructed on land between Davis and Carman Halls, at the current site of the bookstore, which will be relocated. Upon relocation of the nursing programs to their new home – a 3 – 4 year process – the previous site will be freed up for the planned expansion of Science Hall.

The 2014 – 2015 budget increases support for the State’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for eligible students from $5,000 annually to $5,165. (Recently, Congress  increased the maximum Pell award to $5,730.) The state budget also includes a new full-tuition STEM scholarship initiative for NY State high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class, if they pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or math, and work in New York for five years.

The Lehman College Foundation has announced that its 2014 Awards Dinner will be held October 29 at the New York Botanical Garden. Among the honorees are two of our most esteemed faculty: Distinguished Professor of English Billy Collins, a two-time U.S. Poet Laureate; and Distinguished Professor of Music John Corigliano, a Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, and multiple Grammy Award-winning composer. Also being honored is Wendy Lehman Lash, granddaughter of the College’s namesake Herbert H. Lehman and chair of the Edith and Herbert H. Lehman Foundation.

The Foundation also welcomes two new members to its Board of Directors. Lehman alumnus Ira Cohen ‘73 is managing director of Signal Hill Capital and the 2013 recipient of the College’s Alumni Achievement Award. Sabrina HoSang serves as Chief Operating Officer of Caribbean Food Delights, the largest Jamaican frozen food plant in the United Sates. Her father, Vincent HoSang, founded Caribbean Food Delights in the Bronx and received a 2013 Community Leadership Award.

Supporters of Lehman students and scholarship continue to demonstrate their enormous generosity, especially in remembrance of two members of our community whom we lost in late 2013. Elaine Rivera taught journalism at Lehman, following a career at top news organizations such as Time, the Washington Post, Newsday, and WNYC Radio. Kisook Ahn, a native of South Korea, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lehman’s nursing program. She died in the tragic crash of a Metro North train in the Bronx. In each of their names, the Lehman College Foundation set up scholarship funds for journalism students and Korean nursing students, respectively. To date, the Elaine Rivera Fund has garnered more than $24,000; the Kisook Ahn Fund over $4,000 in donations.

The Lehman College Foundation recognizes several recent contributors to the scholarship and ongoing success of Lehman College students: The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, St. George’s Society of New York, Heckscher Foundation for Children, LCU Foundation, and Edwin Gould Foundation.

The Foundation is also grateful to Cecelia Vega, Class of 1977, for her generosity in supporting her future fellow alumni. Ms. Vega majored in Spanish literature with a minor in education, and went on to graduate studies at CUNY’s Hunter College and Baruch College. She has served as an educator in New York City public schools for more than thirty years, and currently teaches at the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan.

Ricardo R. Fernández
Lehman College