On December 1, 2021 Mercy College hosted a dedication ceremony in memory of late librarian Michele S. Lee, MSLIS, M.S. ’06, Pd.M. honoris causa ’15 to name the MercyManhattan Campus library, now the "Michele S. Lee Library for Lifelong Learning," in her honor. Lee was a cherished faculty member at Mercy College for nearly 30 years. She was instrumental in establishing the Manhattan Library, overseeing the transition to the new MercyManhattan Campus space and ensuring that students had access to all the support services needed to pursue their dreams of a college degree.
Interim Vice President of MercyManhattan Scorpio Rogers led the ceremony, which included remarks from alumni, faculty, staff and members of Lee’s family and friends, all of whom paid homage to her generous spirit, passion for lifelong learning and dedication to Mercy students. Rogers also gave special mention to the establishment of the Michele S. Lee Endowed Scholarship for Lifelong Learning, at Mercy College. The scholarship will support many Mercy students who are matriculated either in full or part-time Mercy graduate programs and fulfill Lee’s desire to give others the opportunity to earn a graduate degree.
Mercy College President Tim Hall recognized Lee’s contributions to Mercy in his remarks at the ceremony. “I recognized her immediately as some higher education people call a citizen,” said Hall. “That is somebody who is not just doing a narrow job, but someone who’s really invested in the whole college and prepared to do the work of the college.”
According to Roseanne Vallice Levy, interim associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Education and president of Mercy’s Faculty Senate, “No matter how busy Michele was, she was always just a phone call away, ready to provide help and support. In the months since her passing, we continuously hear about the impact Michele had on her colleagues and most importantly, the impact she had on her students.”
Lee’s legacy lives on through alumni like Romessa Azhar ’21, who is now an admissions recruiter at Mercy and benefited from Lee’s guidance. “…her inspiration is what keeps me going every single day,” said Azhar in her remarks. “This is not just my story with Michele. There are so many of my fellow students who have stories like this - stories of her going above and beyond to help us in school.”
Other speakers included Interim Director of Libraries Moddie Breland, library staff member Jenna Mei, Lee’s cousin Leslie Marable and Lee’s friend Linda Hill. A plaque adorning Lee’s photo, which is now hung in the new Michele S. Lee library, was unveiled at the ceremony.
Approximately 120 people attended the ceremony, either in person or through the virtual live stream. Guests expressed gratitude for the College’s celebration of Lee’s life and offered their sympathies. As said by Kathleen Golisz, Mercy College’s interim dean for the School of Health and Natural Sciences, “I had the honor and pleasure of serving on college committees with Michelle. I looked forward to seeing her, knowing she'd offer a huge hug, hearty laugh and collaborative spirit in the work to be accomplished. I'll attempt to emulate her approach in my work with students and colleagues. I'm sure she's organizing the angels in heaven.”
Valerie Mason Cunningham, H.D. '20, a member of Mercy College’s Board of Trustees, described the event as a, “...beautiful dedication for an extraordinary woman,” while Mustafa Sakarya, former director of Mercy College libraries, remembered Lee as, “...a true force of nature with the biggest heart in the world.”
Lee came to Mercy in 1992 with her M.S. in Library & Information Sciences from Pratt Institute. Fourteen years later at the age of 54, Michele earned a M.S. at Mercy College in Human Resource Management, and at 68, she was completing her dissertation to earn a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Walden University. As demonstrated by her academic accomplishments, Lee exemplified life-long learning.
To learn more about Lee’s impact on the Mercy College Community, click here.
To make a gift to the Michele S. Lee Endowed Scholarship and continue her legacy of helping to educate future generations of students, please click here.
To view the full dedication ceremony, please click here.