Former President Ron Liebowitz Named President of Brandeis University
MIDDLEBURY, VT. and WALTHAM, MASS. — Ronald D. Liebowitz, who served as Middlebury’s president from 2004 to 2015, has been named the next president of Brandeis University.
Brandeis announced the decision this morning. “We are thrilled to welcome Ron Liebowitz to our community,” Brandeis board chair Perry M. Traquina said in announcing the appointment. “He is a proven visionary and leader who helped a great institution scale even greater heights and deftly managed it through challenging times. Brandeis will benefit so much from his exceptional experience and passion.”
Liebowitz will take office on July 1, 2016, succeeding Lisa Lynch, who has served as the university’s interim president since July 1 of this year.
Brandeis University, founded in 1948, enrolls about 3,700 undergraduates and 2,200 graduate students at its campus in Waltham, Massachusetts, just west of Boston.
Liebowitz, his wife, Jessica, and their three children moved to the Boston area after the end of his presidency last summer.
“I am excited by this new challenge at Brandeis,” said Liebowitz. “Through my many discussions with members of the search committee, I found the university’s willingness to face and engage the deepest challenges facing higher education to be compelling.
“So much of what I learned at Middlebury as a faculty member, senior administrator, and president is relevant to understanding the demands for success for colleges and universities nationwide. And the sabbatical year research project that I am now working on with Jessica, which focuses on the future of doctoral education, and is intentionally based on what we learned from 11 years of conversations with colleagues and students at 3 South Street, will serve as a valuable bridge to this next challenge at Brandeis.”
Liebowitz’s presidency was notable for the breadth of ambitions and global focus. During his tenure, Middlebury acquired the Monterey (now Middlebury) Institute of International Studies; opened 23 new Schools Abroad sites; added 120 endowed student scholarships and 16 endowed faculty positions; established two new Language Schools: the School of Hebrew and School of Korean—Middlebury’s 10th and 11th intensive summer language schools—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.
Liebowitz also saw to completion a major fundraising campaign, The Middlebury Initiative, which raised more than $530 million for the institution.
Many of his accomplishments took place against the backdrop of a deep economic crisis that began in late 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.
In 2013, when Liebowitz announced his plan to leave Middlebury, Chair of the Middlebury Board of Trustees Marna Whittington called him 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, Liebowitz 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.
Middlebury President Laurie L. Patton offered Liebowitz and Brandeis her congratulations and best wishes. “Ron truly was a transformative leader at Middlebury and we are excited to see how he will lead Brandeis with his characteristic energy and vision. Brandeis has a unique and important role in American higher education and I’m delighted to see this connection between our institutions.”