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Ronald D. Liebowitz, 16th president of Middlebury College

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President Ronald Liebowitz Announces Plan to Step Down in 2015

December 12, 2013

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury President Ronald D. Liebowitz announced today that he will step down at the end of the next academic year, on June 30, 2015. Liebowitz, Middlebury’s 16th president since the founding of the College in 1800, has served in the office since 2004.

Liebowitz shared his announcement with the campus community in an email this afternoon following the conclusion of a regular Board of Trustees meeting in New York City. He scheduled the announcement to coincide with the approval at that meeting of a new board governance structure that will take effect July 1, 2014.

“It has been an honor of the highest order to serve as the 16th president of this remarkable institution,” Liebowitz wrote. “With its dedicated and committed staff, superb faculty, and outstanding students, Middlebury has never been stronger or better positioned for the future.”

In his email to Middlebury faculty, staff, and students, Liebowitz noted that the institution “will continue to pursue the ambitious agenda we have set for ourselves” through the presidential transition and beyond. He stated that announcing his own transition plan now would provide the Board of Trustees with “the time necessary to select a search committee, to conduct a thoughtful search to identify the finest candidates, and, ultimately, to select Middlebury’s next leader.”

Under Liebowitz’s leadership, Middlebury has focused on curricular innovation to better integrate the traditional strengths of a liberal arts education with the political, technological, and social complexities of the 21st century. During his presidency, Middlebury acquired the Monterey Institute of International Studies; opened 23 new Schools Abroad sites; added 120 endowed student scholarships for financial aid and 15 endowed faculty positions; established the School of Hebrew—Middlebury’s 10th intensive summer language school—and the summer School of the Environment; sent two successful teams to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition; inaugurated the Franklin Environmental Center for the study of the environment and sustainability; created the Center for Social Entrepreneurship; and initiated an array of programs to help students acquire leadership and communication skills and to cultivate creativity and innovation.

Many of these accomplishments took place against the backdrop of a deep economic crisis that began in 2007. Liebowitz guided Middlebury through that recession while maintaining a balanced budget, sustaining the institution’s commitment to need-blind admissions, and without resorting to layoffs.

Marna Whittington, chair of the Middlebury Board of Trustees, called Liebowitz a “transformational president” for Middlebury. “Ron has never been content with what Middlebury is,” said Whittington. “Instead, he has always focused on what it can be. His passion for Middlebury is unmatched and he has led this institution brilliantly. The unyielding dedication to a demanding and long-term view of Middlebury’s educational mission, which Ron and Jessica Liebowitz have demonstrated through their work together, is truly extraordinary.”

A native of New York City, he graduated in 1979 from Bucknell University, where he majored in economics and geography and competed as a varsity swimmer. A specialist in Russian economic and political geography, he received his doctorate from Columbia University. Liebowitz joined the faculty at Middlebury in 1984 and was promoted to associate professor in 1988 and full professor in 1993. He was appointed provost in 1997 and began his presidency on July 1, 2004. In 2009 Time Magazine named Liebowitz one of the 10 best college presidents in the country. He and his wife Jessica have three children: David Heschel, Shoshana, and Ezra.

Board Chair Marna Whittington said that the Board of Trustees will provide information about a presidential search following the February board meeting.