Frequently Asked Questions

What is 90x30?

90x30 is a grand challenge to help focus, organize and resource Lehman College’s work. The challenge calls on Lehman to double from 45,000 to 90,000 the number of high-quality degrees and certificates that our students are expected to earn by 2030.

What is the motivation behind 90x30?

The Bronx is trending upward and moving forward. New businesses are starting up and neighborhoods are being revitalized. But without bold intervention, many Bronx residents are unlikely to benefit broadly from the economic upturn. The statistics are sobering: today the Bronx is the poorest county in New York State. It ranks next to last in educational attainment with only 27.7 percent of residents attaining an associate’s degree or higher. By increasing the number of residents with a postsecondary education, 90x30 will lead to reduced unemployment, higher wages, increased civic and voter participation, and improved physical and mental health, while enhancing the social well-being and economic competitiveness of the Bronx and surrounding regions.

Is Lehman well-positioned to meet 90x30?

The Equality of Opportunity Project recently ranked Lehman as fourth in the nation for propelling large numbers of low-income students into the middle class in a borough it called “among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder.” 90x30 seeks to build on this achievement. If successful, 90x30 will make a significant impact on the economic and social mobility of Lehman’s students – more than half of whom are Bronx residents – by moving them into the ranks of qualified, job market-ready wage earners and positioning them well for further education. By extension, 90x30 has the potential to turn the tide for thousands of families throughout the borough. Two trends make the current situation ripe for intervention: the largest demographic living in poverty in the Bronx are females aged 25 to 34, while the school-age population in the borough is the fastest growing in the state.

What would a better educated Bronx look like?

According to U.S. Census data, more than half of Bronxites 25 and older have at least a high school diploma or equivalency, but have not earned a bachelor’s degree. That’s about 462,000 residents. Imagine for a moment: if those 462,000 Bronxites found a true path to attaining a bachelor’s degree, the estimated benefits would be staggering. They would generate an additional $6 billion in annual income. Our city, state and country would gain $2.8 billion in tax revenue. More than 57,000 residents would be lifted out of poverty and 43,000 would qualify for employer-provided health insurance. And there’s more: nearly 66,000 fewer Bronxites would require Medicaid, more than 41,000 fewer would require Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 12,000 fewer would require housing assistance. With a college degree in hand, these residents, their children and generations thereafter would break the cycle of poverty.

Why should the goal be to double the number of degrees and credentials?

Because doubling the number would position Lehman, the only CUNY four-year college in the Bronx, as the chief contributor of postsecondary credentials in the borough. Only considering undergraduate and graduate degrees, today Lehman (2,815) ranks second in the Bronx — far below Fordham University (private non-profit, 5,155) and just above Monroe College (private for-profit, 2,704).

What baseline data were used to arrive at 90,000?

We are using 2015-16 as the baseline for the 90x30 challenge. In that year, Lehman awarded 2,146 undergraduate degrees and 772 masters degrees and advanced certificates. A conservative estimate also indicates that the School of Continuing and Professional Studies awarded 300 certificates with market value. The baseline for the 90x30 challenge is thus 2,146+772+300=3,218. If we assume a steady state, the total number of high-quality degrees and certificates produced by Lehman by the year 2030 would be 3,218 x 14 years = 45,052. Doubling the number of such degrees and certificates by 2030 brings us to a goal of 90,000. Note: Rubrics are currently being developed to more precisely capture the contribution of SCPS to the 90x30 goal.

Why should we strive to do this by 2030?

Because doing so would dramatically increase the likelihood that children currently attending K to 12 schools in the Bronx and the surrounding region would seek and benefit from the value of a Lehman education—either because they will earn a Lehman degree themselves or a parent or relative will do so.  The sense of urgency is also driven by New York City projections that show the Bronx population of children “five or younger” and “18 or younger” growing at a faster rate than other New York City boroughs, while the population of adults “65 or older” is projected to decrease.  The gains possible in the next decade shall reverberate in the Bronx and beyond for generations to come.

Is doubling the number of degrees and credentials by 2030 doable?

Yes. Lehman can meet the 90x30 challenge by increasing the number of degrees and credentials it awards on an annual basis by only 5% year-over-year through 2030.  To do so, we are building institutional capacity to not only expand student access, increase completion rates, and reduce time to degree, but also to ensure that our graduates become educated, empowered, and engaged members of their communities. We are establishing a robust data analytics operation to accelerate the graduation rate gains that in the past five years have established Lehman as CUNY’s fastest improving senior college. And we are optimizing our resource allocation practices and continuing the work that has positioned Lehman as the only senior college to experience an increase in the number of research grants awarded since 2012 and has nearly doubled the amount of voluntary financial support it has received or has been pledged from five years earlier. 

We are also doubling down on the strategies outlined in the Connected CUNY Strategic Framework and our College’s Achieving the Vision Plan — including those strategies designed to better support our faculty’s research, engaged scholarship, and creative activities and those meant to enhance our students’ career prospects in the knowledge-based economy. We are implementing innovative pedagogical practices to improve student learning outcomes, working to improve the quality of our online programs, and launching cutting-edge certificate programs in fields like augmented and virtual reality. And we have secured funding for hiring more full-time faculty, expanding student support services, and investing in our virtual and physical infrastructure — including remodeling and repurposing tens-of-thousands of square-feet of existing space and building a new 50,000 square foot state-of-the art Nursing Education and Research Center.

Has 90x30 generated interest from change agents in the public and private sector?

Yes. Leaders including the Bronx Borough President and senior representatives from the Institute of Higher Education Policy, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, The Education Trust, Complete College America, and The Aspen Institution have expressed support for 90x30. We have also seen how 90x30 has help accelerate our efforts to secure grant funding, position ourselves as University leaders, and strengthen partnerships. For example, 90x30 played an important role in helping Lehman secure a CUNY 2X Tech Partnership Grant from the New York City Mayor’s Office to “double the number of CUNY students graduating annually with a tech-related bachelor’s degree by the year 2022.”