Dec. 12, 2010
UNIVERSITY OF LA VERNE’S NEW PRESIDENT HAS BIG PLANS FOR 119-YEAR-OLD SCHOOL
By MEDIHA FEJZAGIC DiMARTINO
LA VERNE — When Emery Lieberman-Auerbach decided to move to Claremont and attend Scripps College last fall, she was excited to leave her family 3,000 miles behind, in Staten Island, N.Y.
“Out of all kids in my high school, I was the only brave girl who ventured out to the West Coast,” Lieberman-Auerbach said.
But the separation won’t last long. University of La Verne’s decision last week to choose her mom, Devorah Lieberman, as its 18th president will substantially shrink the distance between the freshman and her family’s future abode.
“When I came for my interviews, I picked her up and said, ‘Let’s see what University of La Verne looks like,’ ” Lieberman said. “So we put (the address) in the GPS and when we got here she said, ‘Mom, it says three miles!’ ”
Lieberman shared the story Wednesday at her formal introduction to the university’s students, faculty, staff and members of the community.
“She is fantastic,” said La Verne Councilwoman Donna Redman, who is also an assistant professor of education at the university.
“She brings a fresh perspective and ton of experience working with faculty.”
Lieberman grew up in Covina, graduated from Covina High School and also attended Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut before getting her bachelor’s degree at Humboldt State.
She has definite ideas on how the University of La Verne can attract a national spotlight.
“When you are in an elevator at a conference, at a national meeting, and someone looks at your name tag and says, ‘Wow, you are from the University of La Verne and you are doing fantastic things,’ that’s where we are going to be in a just a very short time,” Lieberman said.
“But what we must remember through all this is that we want to create the buzz with everything we are doing without ever losing the soul of who we are as an institution.”
To get there, Lieberman plans to rely on faculty as “advocates of the university, promoting their own research agenda nationally.”
“I came because of the quality product that this university has and the challenge is how to take that quality product and to have it known nationally,” she said.
“Currently, everyone who works and attends this institution, they know the quality of the product, but there isn’t the national platform where they are presenting.”
Lieberman’s goals will include boosting the university’s $28million endowment. For that, she plans to turn to alumni.
“It’s not easy, but it’s very possible,” she said. “For example, the endowment for Wagner College (her current employer) eight years ago was at $3million and today is at $63million. So even in the economy that is struggling, if you do your homework to meet with the people who are committed to the institution and to work with them and cultivate those individuals, the endowment will not suffer. And every alumnus that I met at this university has expressed such deep connection and love for the institution.”
And, as if the pressures of fundraising and marketing are not enough, Lieberman will be the 119-year-old university’s first female president when she takes over in June.
“It’s an honor to be modeling for women and really anybody from an underrepresented group,” she said. “I want to show that anything that you seek to achieve, you can achieve it.”
President Lieberman’s first day at U. of La VerneDecember 15, 2010