Dr. José Luis Cruz became only the third president to be inaugurated in the history of Lehman College and used the momentous occasion to announce a major new initiative called ‘90×30.’ The goal of the initiative is to double to 90,000, the number of degrees and high quality credentials that the College will be expected to grant by the year 2030.
President Cruz laid out five priorities in the coming years to begin to achieve those goals, including the hiring of additional full-time faculty and staff and “expanding professional advancement opportunities for all those who do their part to advance our mission.”
He also noted that despite recent economic gains, the Bronx remains the poorest county in New York State and ranks near the bottom five percent of counties in the nation for economic mobility for children in poor families. The Bronx also lags in educational attainment in the state, with only 27.7 percent of residents ages 25 to 64 with at least an associate degree.
“While the Bronx is moving forward and trending upward, not all Bronxites are positioned to benefit,” he said. “As a nationally recognized vehicle of upward mobility, Lehman College must assume a leadership role in driving educational attainment in the Bronx.”
President Cruz noted that if each of the estimated 462,000 Bronx residents over 25 who have a high school diploma or above but no bachelor’s degree had a path to obtain one, the impact on the borough would be substantial.
According to an analysis of economic indicators, residents would earn $6 billion in income, $2.8 billion in tax revenue would be generated, and more than 57,000 would be lifted out of poverty. “90×30 is a catalyst for urgent action that has the potential for transformative change in our home borough,” he said.
The 90×30 initiative will require growth in student enrollment for both degree-granting and certificate programs. The funds generated by increased enrollment will fund strategic increases in faculty and staff as well as additional support services so students can be positioned for further study or employment. Additional funding will be secured through new grants and donations. To jumpstart the efforts, the College has earmarked $3 million in existing resources—a “down payment” the President has called it—toward strategic initiatives that will ensure the College is on the right trajectory to meet 90×30.
The 90×30 initiative allows Lehman to build on recent successes. Over the past five years, Lehman had the largest increase in graduation rates among first-time and transfer students among CUNY senior, or 4-year, colleges. And research grants have doubled over the previous three-year average, and have increased by 70 percent increase over the last 5 years.
President Cruz said that setting a 2030 deadline means increasing the likelihood that students who currently attend K-12 schools in the Bronx and surrounding region would “benefit from the value of a Lehman education—either because they will earn a degree themselves or a parent or other relative will do so.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. applauded 90×30. “There is no question that educational attainment opens the doors to economic and social mobility, not just for students, but also for their families,” Diaz said. “As an alumnus, I am proud that Lehman College is determined to bring opportunity to more Bronx residents. I look forward to working with President Cruz on this important initiative.”
For his inauguration, which happened just slightly over a year after the start of his tenure, President Cruz was surrounded by family members, mentors, and CUNY dignitaries, who offered congratulations and touted his dedication, devotion and vision for Lehman’s future.
The program opened with greetings from Dr. Rima Brusi, the president’s wife and a professor of anthropology and continued with mentors, Antonio Garcia Padilla, the former president of the University Puerto Rico and Dr. Mildred Garcia, the President of California State University, Fullerton. Kati Haycock, founder and president emeritus of The Education Trust Fund, delivered the keynote address. Chancellor James B. Milliken of The City University of New York and the Honorable William C. Thompson, Jr. chairperson, Board of Trustees, The City University of New York offered greetings and Thompson formally installed Cruz as Lehman’s third president.