Set to retire in July, Lieberman reflects on her legacy

Sarah Van Buskirk
Editor-in-Chief

After serving for more than 11 years, Devorah Lieberman, the University of La Verne’s first female president, announced that she would retire in July. 

“When I came to the University of La Verne I discovered a university that in my opinion had the most beautiful mission of any institution I have ever worked at,” Lieberman said in an interview this week. “I have never loved an institution like I love the University of La Verne.”

Lieberman, who announced her retirement on Oct. 20 via email, said she hopes that she is leaving the University of La Verne as a better institution than when she arrived.  

During Lieberman’s time at the helm, the University has marked impressive accomplishments, including some that have garnered national attention. 

Some of those include the creation of the La Verne Experience, a series of freshman through senior year mission, and community oriented classes unique to this University.  

The Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, and the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion were all created or expanded on her watch.

Shannon Capaldi, assistant vice president for strategy and implementation, said that President Lieberman’s warm personality has helped achieve the welcoming feeling characteristic of the University. 

“The opening of the Ludwick Center allows a physical space to represent that the University is a place where everyone can say they belong,” Capaldi added.

Additionally during Lieberman’s tenure, the University became a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, maintained its accreditation via the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, completed the 2020 Strategic Vision and grew its endowment from $37 million to $151 million.

Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and president of the Faculty Senate, said that Lieberman has brought positivity and energy to the campus and community, and that really shines through in her leadership and fundraising efforts.

“She became sort of a groundbreaker for us,” Alvarez said. 

President Lieberman said that her favorite memories of the University will always be the students, whom she says achieve more than they had originally imagined. She said she is continually moved by the pride she sees in their families when they walk across the graduation stage. She said she loves seeing them flourish during their time here and beyond. 

Vice President of University Advancement Sherri Mylott, who came to the University almost six years ago, said she took the job because of Lieberman.  

“The national leadership reputation that Dr. Lieberman had made me say, ‘This is the person I want to work with.’” Mylott said.

Lieberman added: “I am the most proud of the students that are attracted to the University of La Verne … and graduate from the University of La Verne, and continue on to professional careers and personal lives that uplift their community and truly impact the world in positive ways.” 

Lieberman steps down on July 1, 2023, however she plans to stick around as needed to help orient the new president. 

Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at sarah.vanbuskirk@laverne.edu.

Correction
In an earlier version of this story, Devorah Lieberman’s name was misspelled. The Campus Times regrets the error.

Sarah Van Buskirk is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. She is the Spring 2024 editorial director for the Campus Times and has recently served as editor-in-chief, sports editor and staff writer. She is also currently a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine, and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine.

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