Buildings & Grounds Employee Recognized at School of Education’s LUTE Honors Ceremony


A Tribute to Lehman Employee from 1969 – 1992

By Dr. Abigail McNamee
Award presentation speech

I thought that I would say that I am pleased to give this next award.  Pleased, however, is too weak a word.  Sometimes professors and administrators experience a time when they feel great joy professionally and personally.  This is one of those times for me as I present this special LUTE (Lehman Urban Transformative Education) award.  The receiver of this award did transform education.  He is in the room, but does not know that he is an award recipient.

Victor Morales began working at Lehman in 1969.  He was then a custodian with responsibility mainly for the library and gymnasium.  At the time, there was no Apex, no concert hall, no separate library.

Mrs. Morales worked at the Rose Marie Reed bathing suit factory.  Two working parents with a four, then five-year-old daughter.  What decision could they make for her care while they worked? There was no Universal pre-K for fours and Kindergarten was half day.  There were concerns about trusting other people to take care of their daughter in day care or Head Start.  Mrs. Morales could not take their daughter to the factory.

So…it was decided that Mr. Morales would take her to work at Lehman. He put her in one of those big canvas carts on wheels and rolled her through the tunnels as he worked in the Old Gym Building and Shuster Hall. She experienced it as a joy ride, sitting on top of the paper trash.

Some days it was not possible to take her everywhere with him.  On those days he took her to the library, which was then in Shuster Hall, and left her among the books and Peggy, the tall, brash, Irish librarian. He didn’t know where the children’s books were, so his daughter sat among the maps and looked through atlases, medical books, and anything else that had pictures…until Peggy introduced her to the children’s books.

If she behaved, her papi took her to the White Castle on Fordham Road on the way home.

Mr. Morales retired in 1992.

His daughter entered Lehman as a freshman in 1989, three years before he retired.  She met her husband Tom that summer in one of the Carman Hall Lecture rooms.  He was a Poli Sci Syracuse student taking a summer course.  She was a Psych major minoring in Early Childhood. When she went on for her master’s degree in early childhood I was her child development professor and  thesis advisor.

Coming to Lehman while her father worked transformed her education.  His daughter is our Yasmin Morales-Alexander. [See full LUTE Honors Reception]

Her work at Lehman, which you heard, has transformed the education of many more.

Mr. Morales, we thank you, so very much.

Would you come up and bring your girl…