MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College will inaugurate Ronald D. Liebowitz as its 16th president in a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10, on the lawn of the College’s new library. Liebowitz, 46, officially succeeded John M. McCardell Jr. on July 1 following McCardell’s decision to return to the faculty after serving as Middlebury’s president for 13 years.
The ceremony will begin with a procession of approximately 60 delegates and presidents from colleges around the country, including Vermont institutions. Delegates, usually local alumni contacted by their alma mater, will march in place of those presidents who are unable to attend. Middlebury Select Board Chair John Tenny and Governor of Vermont Jim Douglas, a 1972 Middlebury graduate, will represent the Town of Middlebury and the State of Vermont respectively. The remaining participants will represent all facets of Middlebury College. Faculty members-including Dean-designate of the Language Schools and Schools Abroad Michael Geisler and the directors of each of the nine Middlebury College Language Schools-trustees, administrators, commons faculty heads, Director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Michael Collier, and Director of the Bread Loaf School of English and Dean of Graduate and Special Programs Jim Maddox will follow in the procession. A number of groups will carry colorful banners.
The three presidents emeriti of the College-McCardell, Olin Robison and James Armstrong-will also attend the inauguration.
The ceremony will consist of three parts, beginning with brief greetings from representatives of all of Middlebury College’s constituencies, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as Douglas and Tenny. The directors of the Middlebury College Language Schools will deliver greetings in the languages of their schools. Williams College President Morton Owen Schapiro will speak on behalf of all the college presidents.
During the second portion of the ceremony, David M. Stameshkin, author of “The Town’s College” and “The Strength of the Hills”-two histories of Middlebury College collectively spanning the years 1800-1990-will give a talk that places Liebowitz’s inauguration in the context of Middlebury’s 204-year history. Stameshkin, a former special assistant to the dean of Middlebury College, is executive director for donor relations and development communications at Franklin and Marshall College.
For the final part of the ceremony, Middlebury College Board of Trustees Chair Frederick M. Fritz, a 1968 Middlebury graduate, will conduct the investiture of Liebowitz by presenting the incoming president with the cane of one of the College’s founders, Gamaliel Painter, and the presidential medallion. Liebowitz will then deliver his inaugural speech.
The inauguration will also include organ music by Middlebury College Organist and Professor Emeritus of Music Emory Fanning as well as several choral selections performed by the Middlebury College Chamber Singers under the direction of Jeffrey R. Rehbach.
More information will be available on the College’s Web site at a later date regarding a live Webcast of the inauguration. In the event of rain, the ceremony will take place in Mead Chapel.
Several inauguration activities will take place the day before the ceremony. Russian violinist Kirill Troussov and his sister, pianist Alexandra Troussova, will perform a one-hour recital on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m. in the Center for the Arts (CFA) Concert Hall. The program includes Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3, in D minor, Op. 108 by Johannes Brahms; Prokofiev’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2, in D Major, Op. 94b; Paganini’s Caprice No. 24; and Liebesleid “Love’s Sorrow” for Violin and Piano, by Fritz Kreisler. Kirill Troussov, who has performed widely in Europe, plays the Stradivarius violin “Le Reynier” made in 1727. The duo’s EMI recording of Brahms and Beethoven sonatas has received much critical acclaim. The performance is free, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available to the general public beginning Monday, Sept. 27, and there is a limit of two per person. For tickets or more information, contact the CFA Box office at 802-443-6433.
On Saturday evening, the celebration will continue at an inaugural dance on campus.
A number of other events will take place at Middlebury College just prior to or during the same weekend as the inauguration festivities. The new library will be dedicated in a ceremony on Friday, Oct. 8, at 12:15 p.m., beginning a year-long series of events called “Ways with Words: A Celebration of Libraries.” In conjunction with the dedication, the 2004 Nicholas R. Clifford Symposium, “The Technology of the Word,” will feature lectures and panels on Oct. 6 and 7. Dance company Project Bandaloop will help mark the library’s dedication by performing on the eastern wall of the new building several times from Oct. 8-Oct. 10. The company’s members suspend themselves from buildings, cliffs and mountains throughout the world to create dances and films.
Ronald D. Liebowitz
Liebowitz’s appointment to the position of Middlebury College president was announced by Churchill Franklin, then chair of the Middlebury College Board of Trustees, on April 16. The announcement followed the completion of a five-month search during which 400 prospective candidates were reviewed. At the time of the announcement, Franklin said, “The board’s decision to name Ron Liebowitz as the next president of Middlebury College was made with the full confidence that we had unquestionably selected the best person to lead the College forward at this vital juncture in its history.”
Prior to becoming president, Liebowitz was provost and executive vice president of Middlebury College, a post he had held since 1997. From 1993-95, he was dean of the faculty, and from 1995-97, he was vice president of the College. From February to June 2002, Liebowitz served as acting president.
Liebowitz joined the Middlebury faculty in 1984 as an instructor of geography and was promoted to associate professor in 1988 and full professor in 1993. He is a graduate of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn., where he majored in economics and geography, and competed as a varsity swimmer. He received his doctorate in geography from Columbia University in 1985.
Recognized as an authority on Russian economic and political geography, Liebowitz has authored scholarly articles related to Soviet and Russian regional economic policy, a field of expertise made relevant most recently by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to recentralize economic and political authority within the Russian state. Liebowitz is the editor of three books and the recipient of a number of national fellowships, including those from the National Council on Soviet and East European Research, the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the George F. Kennan Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He also served as the first board chair for the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE), an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported consortium of 81 liberal arts colleges that serves as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration for national liberal arts colleges.
Liebowitz has been a member of the senior administration at Middlebury through a period of intense activity and change, and has led the development of a number of major College initiatives. He oversaw the establishment of additional centers and new schools for the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad in France, Italy, Latin America, Russia, Spain and most recently in Hangzhou, China. In addition, Liebowitz spearheaded the addition of Arabic and Portuguese to the undergraduate curriculum, and led the effort to establish the Portuguese School as the ninth Middlebury College Language School. He also played a leadership role in the significant internationalization of the curriculum, which included the introduction of innovative interdisciplinary, team-taught senior seminars in international studies, the establishment of a new major in international studies, and the strengthening of the program in international politics and economics.
Liebowitz chaired the science planning committee that established what are widely considered to be the finest facilities for teaching, learning and research among liberal arts colleges. He assumed a leading role in the establishment of the College’s residential commons, which created smaller student living communities within the larger residential life system, led to the decentralization of the dean of student affairs office, and introduced residentially-based first-year seminars.
Of the 16 presidents in Middlebury’s 204-year history, Liebowitz is the third to be chosen from inside the institution. In the 19th century, Middlebury faculty member Ezra Brainerd was appointed president, and John McCardell was acting president and a longtime faculty member when he became president in 1992.
Liebowitz, his wife Jessica, and their son live in the official residence of the Middlebury College president in Middlebury.