Even in a pandemic, CUNY doesn't slow down


While CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez visited different CUNY schools over the past month to reconnect with campus life post-lockdown. Lehman College had a few surprises for him.

As Rodriguez traveled through Lehman’s campus he witnessed a clinical trial run by nursing students and later he visited the business department where they will open a school of business.

The expansion of the nursing program and creation of a business school will not only attract more students, it will provide more knowledge resources and create pathways for students seeking to be part of the city’s post-pandemic recovery.

Dene Hurley, the chair and professor in economics and business, says that the department has been thinking about opening a school of business for almost a decade. The only thing holding them back was timing.

The Lehman College School of Business will open July 1.

“Our enrollment just kept going up, and we felt like it was the right time to move,” Hurley said.

As of now, there are currently 14,000 students in the business and economic department — as expected in the spring, there will be 4,000 additional students.

Lehman’s business school will have three independent departments Some of the new majors will include theater analytics, entrepreneurship, and real estate.

The independence of each department is designed to free up the faculty to avoid the bureaucracy of an academic institution that might not be that efficient.

During the event the college gave pamphlets to the visitors that explains in detail the benefits of the program.

The new school is designed to help students  focus more on their careers and strategize their future.

The community benefits from the program as well. Many students do not leave the city after graduation. If given an opportunity, a graduate may focus on the economic revitalization of the borough.

“It is great for a public institution to be the only sort of school of business between Manhattan and somewhere in the in the upper Hudson Valley,” Rodriguez said, “sort of creating that niche. So I’m very, very excited.”

Besides celebrating Lehman’s new business school, the nursing program touched Rodriguez’s heart.

Through the CUNY Capital Improvement Program, the New York city council, and the Bronx borough president’s office, New York state funded the new $90 million construction for a new nursing building expected to be completed in the summer of 2023.

Dr. Catherine Alicia Georges began working at Lehman’s nursing department 47 years ago, and she remembers nursing students walking into temporary buildings to begin class. Currently, she is the department’s chair

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse, and alumni of Lehman college, became the first person to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the United States two years ago. Rodriguez said Lindsay was a product of our system. Lehman nursing students volunteer to give doses to people who needed the vaccine as well.

Due to the coronavirus, brave doctors and nurses went on the front lines. Now the hospital is suffering from a shortage of nurses. During the pandemic, short-term registered nurses are in high demand.

“So many of our nursing students were volunteers during the pandemic,” Rodriguez said. “To come and see people that are still dedicated and want to go into that profession. It is very, very, very moving.”

Georges says some hospitals and patients mistreat nurses, and people have forgotten what the nurses were doing to save lives over two years ago that continues today.

“I’ve been in this business a long time,” Georges said. “I’ve been the victim of discriminatory practices. I’ve seen it even now, as an older adult or black woman in this world. I can tell you how I have not been treated with respect and dignity because I got a Bronx address this is something we will no longer” be tolerated, Georges said.

“This building is a message not just to the college, but to the whole world health care and those who really want to be involved in nursing,” Georges said.

The upgrades will focus on the technology using simulation, newer classrooms, and more extensive programs that meet the needs of the health care system in the Bronx.

Currently, the program has a practice doctorate with 17 people enrolled for a doctor of nursing practice. These graduates will be the ones who will run primary care clinics and more to improve health outcomes.

“These are the nurse practice people, the practice leaders, who will be the chief nurse in one of the institutions in a large health system,” Georges said enthusiastically.

Felix Matos Rodriguez, CUNY, Lehman College, Lehman College School of Business, Stacy Driks, Catherine Alicia Georges, Sandra Lindsay,