Fernández to Retire After a Quarter Century of Service
Kirschner Appointed Special Adviser to the Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships
Two outstanding leaders at The City University of New York — President Ricardo R. Fernández of Herbert H. Lehman College and Dean Ann Kirschner of the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY — are stepping down next year after long and exemplary service to CUNY, Chancellor James B. Milliken announced today.
President Fernández will retire following the conclusion of the academic year after nearly 26 years of leadership at Lehman College.
Dean Kirschner will step down early next year after 10 years as Dean of Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and will assume a new role as Special Adviser to the Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships.
“Throughout his remarkable tenure, President Ricardo R. Fernández has expanded Lehman College’s commitment to educational excellence and access to higher education while establishing a caring and supportive learning environment where individual achievement has flourished. With his exemplary leadership, campus facilities were modernized, programs expanded, and our beautiful Bronx campus became a vital treasure of our state,” Chancellor Milliken said.
The Chancellor praised Dean Kirschner’s outstanding leadership of Macaulay Honors College, noting that “the college went from a program to one of the few degree-granting honors colleges in the country. Applications increased by 80 percent and Macaulay has become one of America’s most competitive honors colleges.” He added that he looks forward to working with Dr. Kirschner in her new post building partnerships in key sectors of the economy to provide more opportunities for our students and graduates.
President Ricardo R. Fernández
Dr. Fernández became the second president of Lehman College on Sept. 1, 1990, and is the longest serving among CUNY’s current presidents. The many milestones achieved at Lehman under President Fernández’s leadership include offering students the opportunity to choose from some 51 majors and 42 master's programs. The college also has a robust adult and continuing education program on its beautiful and historic campus.
President Fernández oversaw the development and completion of Lehman’s remarkable Science Hall, a $70 million research and teaching facility with state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, instrumentation, greenhouse and environmentally sustainable technologies. Science Hall, which was dedicated in the fall of 2012 and opened for classes in January 2013, is the largest, single academic investment in Lehman’s history and a campus centerpiece for research and STEM career preparation.
Last spring, President Fernández hosted President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Lehman, which brought national attention to the college's support for the pioneering “My Brother’s Keeper” Alliance and Lehman’s own Urban Male Leadership Program. Lehman College was recently ranked by Washington Monthly magazine as among the top five “Best Bang for the Buck” colleges in the Northeast.
Dr. Fernández has encouraged the development of new majors and degree programs, including an undergraduate degree in business and graduate degrees in social work, public health, and business. He has expanded the college’s technological infrastructure and facilities, including a $15 million Information Technology Center, a $17 million campus-wide fire, security and communication system, and a $16 million Multimedia Center that supports programs in journalism and new media. In 2013, a $6.3 million Child Care Center, designed to meet the child care needs of Lehman’s students, opened its doors.
Dr. Fernández has been deeply committed to integrating new technologies into the classroom as a way to enhance students’ educational experiences. There has been a 40 percent growth in online/hybrid classes at Lehman since the spring of 2013, and one quarter of all classes were either fully online, hybrid, or Web-enhanced by last fall. In addition, Lehman has dramatically expanded the number of grants received from government agencies, leading foundations and corporations, extended its educational partnerships into the international arena and become a major resource for the economic, cultural and educational development of the Bronx.
In partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the High School for American Studies at Lehman College was established in 2002. It has been ranked for three consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 100 high schools and is routinely ranked among the best public high schools in the city. Under President Fernández’s leadership, Lehman established both the Institute for Irish-American Studies and the recently named Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute, a capstone of his many years of dedicated work with the Mexican community.
Dr. Fernández is a Trustee of the New York Botanical Garden; Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center; Wave Hill, a Bronx public garden and cultural center; the Riverdale Mental Health Association; and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the boards of directors of the Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio, Texas; Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy; and the Hispanic Educational Technology Services, a distance-learning consortium of 36 colleges and university systems in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. Dr. Fernández has served as Chair of the board of directors of the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for the nation’s higher education institutions (2007-2008) and of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
President Fernández is the recipient of numerous award and honors, including being named by Crain’s New York Business Magazine as one of the People to Watch in Higher Education in 2014. The New York Immigration Coalition selected him for a Builder of the New New York Award (2013), and he received the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2011), the ASPIRA Education Award (2011), and the Latino Trendsetter Award (2010).
Dr. Fernández holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in Spanish Literature from Marquette University, and an M.A . and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University.
A national search for a new president of Lehman College will begin this fall, consistent with the guidelines of the CUNY Board of Trustees.
Dean Ann Kirschner
Dr. Kirschner became Dean of Macaulay Honors College in 2006. Student achievement at Macaulay soared under her leadership, with more than 73 prestigious fellowships, including two Rhodes Scholars, five Truman Fellows and 36 Fulbrights. Dean Kirschner developed signature leadership programs, such as the Goldsmith Scholars, Revson Scholars, the Kenan Fellows and the Hertog Scholars. Building on her background as an entrepreneur in media and technology, she launched the Macaulay New Media Lab and was awarded one of New York State’s 20/20 grants to develop a digital media incubator and curriculum, in partnership with Hostos Community College and Lehman College.
Before joining CUNY, Dr. Kirschner was an entrepreneur and executive in media and technology. A pioneer in online education, she founded FATHOM, an education venture in partnership with Columbia University, London School of Economics and other leading institutions. Among her startups were NFL SUNDAY TICKET andNFL.COM for the National Football League.
As the first president of the Macaulay Honors College Foundation, Dean Kirschner increased fundraising activities significantly, most notably with a $30 million gift from William E. Macaulay — the largest in CUNY’s history — which enabled the college to purchase and renovate its campus and administrative center at 35 West 67th Street. She also developed the college’s privately funded Opportunities Fund, which encourages students to customize and deepen their education with global study, independent research and internships. Seventy percent of Macaulay students have studied outside the U.S., the highest percentage of any American public institution.
There are now more than 3,200 Macaulay alumni, over 55 percent of whom are pursuing graduate or professional degrees at leading institutions around the world.
Dr. Kirschner is a distinguished writer and speaker on education, media, and technology. Her first book, Sala’s Gift, (Simon and Schuster, 2006) tells the story of her mother’s wartime rescue of letters from Nazi labor camps, and has been published in German, Polish, Italian, French, Czech and Chinese. Her latest book is Lady at the OK Corral: the True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp (HarperCollins, 2013).
She has been named one of New York Magazine’s “Millennium New Yorkers” and honored as a distinguished graduate of Princeton University and the University of Buffalo and by the Feminist Press and the Western Writers History Association. Dr. Kirschner serves on the Board of Directors of Apollo Education, Public Agenda and the Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation.
A native New Yorker who attended the city’s public schools, she earned a B.A. in English from the University of Buffalo and an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia. She received a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, where she was named Whiting Fellow in the Humanities.
A national search for a new dean of Macaulay Honors College will begin this fall, consistent with the guidelines of the CUNY Board of Trustees.