President Liebowitz Delivers Address on the Future of the College
President Liebowitz outlined a sober vision of the future of the College in a speech delivered in Mead Chapel today, assessing how the College cannot continue to operate as it did during better economic times, while maintaining that the College’s most important priorities will not change.
The speech, which received a lengthy ovation after its conclusion, was also notable in that it offered solemn assessments of various issues in higher education. Liebowitz proposed lowering expectations for profits on the endowment, and also explained that families would stop investing in institutions like Middlebury if comprehensive fees continue to increase at present rates. Faculty, students and staff filled Mead Chapel for the speech, which had been publicized through campus-wide emails.
Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage from The Campus in the coming days, but here is an overview of the some of the policy proposals outlined by Liebowitz:
- There will be no staff layoffs barring a severe economic downturn. Liebowitz praised the early retirement program and staff restructuring as successful in averting the need for layoffs. Liebowitz’s announcement of this news was met by applause.
- The current financial aid policy will remain the same. Admission will continue to be need blind for domestic applicants and need aware for international applicants. The stated policy of meeting demonstrated need for admitted students will remain in effect.
- Enrollment will increase to 2,450. Liebowitz cited the financial advantages of increasing enrollment, and acknowledged that he had previously hoped to decrease the size of the student body.
- The student-faculty ratio will remain the same. Liebowitz also explained that plans to implement senior work for all students will continue.
- The Monterey Institute and Middlebury’s language programs will be developed to further their profit-making potential. Liebowitz outlined how both programs already make a profit. He also made an effort to present the decision to expand on these programs in terms of major decisions in the College’s history.
- The comprehensive fee will increase at a slower rate. The speech outlined how tuition has increased at a faster rate than the consumer price index, and how President Liebowitz sees this as an unsustainable practice.
- Expected revenue from the endowment and gifts will decrease. In planning future budgets, expected profits from the endowment will decrease to 5%. During better economic times, budgets functioned based on 9%-11% profit margins on the endowment.
- The freeze on faculty and staff salaries of over $50,000 will likely be lifted in the next fiscal year. Raises will first go to faculty who have been promoted.
The Campus also covered the event through its Twitter account, and I once again recommend staying tuned to the paper’s coverage in the coming days for more analysis.
UPDATE: Read a transcript of the speech HERE.
Campus News Editor Anthony Adragna contributed reporting to this post, and for full disclosure, I am also on The Campus Editorial Board.