Awarded to an alumnus or alumna whose professional accomplishments and achievements are exceptionally noteworthy and distinctive in his/her profession.
Ronald D. Liebowitz was appointed as the 16th president of Middlebury College in April 2004. He has been on the Middlebury faculty since 1984, and prior to his appointment as president, he served as provost and executive vice president.
Under Ron's leadership, the College has sought to define a contemporary liberal arts education as one that creates connections between its foundational qualities and the larger world. As it has been for more than two centuries, Middlebury remains committed to providing the finest undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences; a large part of that is the successful retention and further recruitment of an exceptional faculty. But the College is also looking beyond the classrooms and labs, encouraging students to pursue project-based and other forms of experiential learning in order to develop the skills needed to contribute and succeed in a global economy. During Ron's presidency, the College developed the Project on Creativity and Innovation, now in its seventh year and offering many different programs that aim to make intellectual risk-taking and creative problem-solving second nature to Middlebury students. Most recently, Middlebury opened the Center for Social Entrepreneurship.
Building on Middlebury's leadership in language learning and international studies, Liebowitz and the College have remained focused on the long-term goal of becoming the first truly global liberal arts college for the 21st century - a College that best prepares its graduates to meet the challenges they enter upon graduation. Since Ron took office, the institution has added the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California as a professional graduate school of Middlebury; established "4+1" dual-degree programs with Monterey, allowing Middlebury students to earn a B.A. and a master's degree in just five years in five different areas of international studies; established new C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad in Africa (Cameroon), the Middle East (Alexandria, Egypt; Beer Sheva, Israel; and Amman, Jordan), and Japan (Tokyo), while adding sites at existing Schools Abroad in China, Latin America, Spain, Italy, and France; created an M.A. program in Chinese through the School of Chinese in collaboration with the Monterey Institute; and, in collaboration with Brandeis University, developed the College's 10th intensive summer language School - the Brandeis-Middlebury School of Hebrew. In addition, the College has launched the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA) and a for-profit company, Middlebury Interactive Languages (MIL), both of which are designed to introduce language learning to students at an early age.
During a tenure that has included a global recession, Ron has received national recognition for his fiduciary leadership and stewardship of Middlebury College. Middlebury emerged from the financial crisis with a balanced budget, an intact mission, and recalibrated financial models. Ron made the bold step of initiating a policy that would limit annual tuition increases to within a one percent increase of the Consumer Price Index. Known as "CPI+1," this policy reflected an understanding that tuition increases that outpaced inflation significantly, as had been the case for several decades, could not continue without a negative impact on the institution and aspiring students and their families. In addition, Ron's tenure has been marked by record fundraising totals and alumni participation in annual giving.
Ron majored in economics and geography at Bucknell, and competed as a varsity swimmer. He received his doctorate in geography from Columbia University in 1985. A political geographer who specializes in Russian economic and political geography, he has authored scholarly articles related to Soviet and Russian regional economic policy, edited three books, and is the recipient of a number of national fellowships. Ron and his wife, Jessica, live in Middlebury College president's official residence, with their three children, David Heschel, Shoshana, and Ezra.