Ronald D. Liebowitz has been tapped as Brandeis University's next president. Liebowitz will begin his tenure at the Massachusetts college in July.
He led Middlebury College, in Vermont, from 2004 until June 2015, and is currently conducting a research project on doctoral education with his wife. Liebowitz is credited with expanding Middlebury's immersive language programs, including launching its School of Hebrew and acquiring the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school in California.
At Middlebury -- which has a $1.08 billion endowment, compared to Brandeis's $861 million endowment -- he was also known for thinking outside the box.
“Ron was a transformational leader for Middlebury College,” Marna Whittington, Middlebury’s board chair, said in a statement. “A less evident yet profoundly important accomplishment was his guiding of the institution through a review of the Board of Trustees’ governance structures, followed by a smooth implementation of their reform. The new governance structures, which focus on greater education of trustees, increased transparency of board processes and objectives, and more effective inclusion of faculty, students and staff in governance and decision making, have placed Middlebury on a path to success for the next century.”
To whom is a president to turn when students rush from campus to start the holiday break, and even fellow administrators are leaving town? For Steve Scott, president of Pittsburg State University in Kansas, the answer is clear: Adele.
Bruce Harreld, the controversial new president of the University of Iowa, is now denying that he ever said professors who are not prepared for class "should be shot," The Gazette reported. On Tuesday, news spread that a librarian, Lisa Gardinier emailed Harreld to express offense at the comment and that he apologized. On Wednesday, Harreld told the Gazette that what he really said in the meeting was, “I have learned the hard way that if I ever walk into a classroom without a teaching plan, I should be shot,” and he denied even joking about professors being shot. There is no recording of the event, but the librarian noted that when she raised her criticism, the president didn't deny the statement. And she noted that he was clarifying his remarks only after they attracted attention.
“The distinction between ‘I’ and ‘they’ is not the one that matters,” Gardinier said. “It’s the ‘should be shot’ part.”
The University of Portland has faced four suicides in the last nine months, three by students and one by an alumnus who worked as a night custodian, The Oregonian reported. The article details how the campus has faced the tragedies, including allegations that campus leaders have not always been open in talking about suicide.
Kutztown University, in Pennsylvania, announced Tuesday that it will lift a brief ban on any use in a dormitory room or elsewhere on campus of the Confederate flag or swastikas. The university this month announced this policy: "All decorations in common areas in the residence hall and apartments must take into consideration that obscene, distasteful displays which are demeaning to an individual's or group's race, ethnic, religious background and/or gender or ability will not be permitted and will be removed immediately, at the discretion of Housing and Residential Services. The Confederate flag and swastika are NOT permitted in any residence hall, suite and apartment or student room." (Uppercase and bold emphasis is per the policy.)
But on Tuesday, the university withdrew portions of the policy. A statement from the university said: "Kutztown University recently announced a proposed change to its housing decoration policy restricting the display of symbols that promote messages inconsistent with the values of the university. Upon learning of the change, university legal counsel asked us to refrain from implementing the policy in order to permit a review for constitutionality. As a result of this review, references to any specific content, such as symbols, will be removed from the policy. The university will educate our students and other members of our community, so they will understand the historical and modern context for these symbols, and we will continue to advocate for an environment wherein all those associated with our university can feel valued and safe."
Faculty members on two campuses voted no confidence in administrators in recent days. Saying it opposed President Tom Rochon’s “autocratic” leadership style, the Ithaca College Faculty Council released the results of its faculty vote on Monday. Some 78 percent of voting, full-time continuing faculty expressed no confidence in their leader. The turnout rate was 87 percent.
“The number of faculty voters and the strength of its mandate are the culmination of months of deeply reflective, highly intellectual dialogue and organizing,” Mary Bentley, associate professor of health promotion and physical education, said in a statement. The vote is a “clear call to action for the college’s Board of Trustees to remove this president.”
Asma Barlas, a professor of politics at Ithaca, said Rochon’s troubles have been exacerbated by the recent student protests on campus regarding the racial climate. The president’s “so-called solutions to the current crisis have been too little, too late and hence, hopelessly ineffectual,” she said.
In a statement, Rochon said the faculty message and one sent by students in their own vote of no confidence last month “has been a difficult one to hear, but I am listening. I understand that many people on our campus are frustrated with the pace of change and with my own role in effecting it.”
Rochon said he remains “determined to improve Ithaca College's culture for the better, and that includes improving my own approach to collaborating with our faculty, staff and students. l am committed to working with every faculty member, every staff member and every student who desires to make Ithaca College a more welcoming and inclusive community. That is how I can best serve the college, and it will continue to be the focus of my efforts and attention.”
Tom Grape, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the votes are “one way, along with the many interactions we’ve had on campus and by phone and email, for students and faculty to make their views known to us. We will brief the full Board of Trustees on everything we have learned, and we intend to share an update with the [Ithaca] community early in the spring semester.”
The Academic Senate at California State University at Chico also passed a resolution of no confidence regarding President Paul Zingg; Susan Elrod, interim vice provost; and Lori Hoffman, vice president for business and finance. “The executive leadership has failed to effectively manage the development and implementation of policies and personnel processes that concern the faculty and staff,” the resolution said.
Paula Selvester, a professor of education and member of the senate, said the resolution stems from a history of “instability and a dismissal of shared governance,” the Enterprise-Recordreported. “Over the years campuswide trust in our ability to share governing together has declined. … A widely held perception is that decisions are made without adequate consultation here on campus and therefore the quality of decision making has suffered.”
Ahead of the vote, administrators including Zingg emailed members of the faculty to express concern that the resolution lacked specificity, among other issues. Some faculty leaders at the meeting said they wanted more time to review the resolution, but it passed 24-8.
Via email, Joe Willis, a university spokesman, said that while “one senator said during debate that the vote was symbolic in nature, senior leadership at the university looks forward to discussing with the senate what the aims of the resolution are and what consequences are expected from it. In the new year, our provost will be working closely with deans, chairs, faculty and others on a budget allocation model that is responsive to our priorities and represents a commitment to shared governance.”
Part-time faculty members at Emerson College’s Los Angeles campus voted 16-0 to form a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Monday. The new bargaining unit has 22 members. Part-time faculty members at the college’s main campus in Boston already are represented by AAUP.