Ronald D. Liebowitz, former president of Middlebury College, will become the ninth president of Brandeis University, succeeding Fred Lawrence, who left at the end of the last academic year. Liebowitz will take over from Interim President Lisa Lynch on July 1.
Before coming to Brandeis, Liebowitz served as Middlebury College’s president from 2004 to 2015, where he also served as a professor of geography, provost and Dean of the Faculty.
Liebowitz and his wife Jessica attended three welcome receptions in Levin Ballroom on Tuesday, Jan. 12; one for staff, faculty and students respectively. At the reception for students, Liebowitz said students should not feel intimidated by the title of president and should be comfortable approaching him.
In an email to The Brandeis Hoot, Liebowitz said he enjoyed the warm welcome. “I know there are many different perspectives on a university campus on so many issues, but [Jessica and I] got the sense that everyone with whom we met shares and exhibits a remarkable level of passion about and dedication to Brandeis,” said Liebowitz.
Perry Traquina ’78, chair of the board of trustees, announced Leibowitz’s appointment in an email to the Brandeis community on Dec. 17.
He called Liebowitz “an exceptional leader at Middlebury, charting paths that significantly enhanced the school’s academic rigor, reputational profile and financial strength.”
During his tenure as Middlebury’s president, he oversaw several important initiatives, such as affiliating the Monterey Institute of International Studies with Middlebury. Liebowitz also kicked off the “Middlebury Initiative” in 2007, which sought to raise and invest $500 million into Middlebury’s strategic plan of financial aid and new faculty, in the largest-ever fundraising campaign by a liberal arts college.
In 2009, he was named one of the “Ten Best College Presidents” in an online feature by TIME magazine which praised Lebowitz for his commitment to reducing Middlebury’s carbon footprint.
In 2007, Middlebury committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2016. Students created a proposal to make the college carbon neutral and Liebowitz helped convince the Board of Trustees to approve the plan, according to TIME.
Liebowitz is also one of more than 200 college presidents who signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007 to promote sustainability efforts on their campuses. One focus is on recycling and compost, with 65 percent of their waste recycled or composted.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Liebowitz received his BA in economics and geography from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and his PhD in geography from Columbia University.
Liebowitz, his wife, and their three children moved to nearby Newton, Massachusetts, a few months before being announced as Brandeis’ new president. During his sabbatical in between presidencies, he will be working on a research project with his wife. Liebowitz was officially welcomed by Interim President Lynch and other Brandeis administrators in a ceremony this Tuesday, Jan. 12th, where he made some remarks and met with the gathered audience.
Peter Giumette, Senior Advisor to Lynch, will head a committee to facilitate the transition between Lynch and Liebowitz. Interim President Lynch will be resuming her role as Provost and Chief Academic Officer after Liebowitz takes office.