Ronald D. Liebowitz became Middlebury’s 16th president on July 1, 2004.
Under his leadership, Middlebury has expanded its academic programs’ range and depth and provided many opportunities for students to apply their educations in ways that prepare them to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.
During Liebowitz’s presidency, Middlebury has invested in its faculty, its liberal arts curriculum, and its campus. It has added 120 endowed student scholarships and 16 endowed faculty positions; sent two successful student teams to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition (the first liberal arts college to do so); 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 as well as to cultivate creativity and innovation. In 2007 Middlebury committed to making the campus carbon neutral by 2016.
Liebowitz has significantly expanded Middlebury’s global focus as well. In 2005 Middlebury affiliated with—and in 2010 officially acquired—the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a 700-student graduate school with leading programs in translation and interpretation, global policy studies, and nonproliferation and terrorism studies. The Middlebury Language Schools opened the School of Hebrew in 2008 and the School of Korean in 2015, increasing the number of Language Schools to 11. And since 2004, the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad has added 23 new Schools Abroad sites, bringing the total to 36 campuses in 16 countries.
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. During his presidency, Middlebury has benefitted from increases in annual fundraising and in alumni-giving participation, which has grown to one of the highest rates in the nation. And by having the College contribute to the town’s infrastructure project costs and by increasing its annual payments in lieu of taxes, Liebowitz has also leveraged the institution’s resources to benefit the town of Middlebury.
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 also twice attended Middlebury’s Russian School before arriving at Middlebury. 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 in July 2004. In 2009 Time Magazine named Liebowitz one of the 10 best college presidents in the country. In 2014, the Bucknell Alumni Association honored him as the recipient of the “Outstanding Achievement in a Chosen Profession” award.
In December 2013, Liebowitz announced that he would step down following the 2014-15 academic year. He served 11 years in office.