A large community of trustees, staff, alumni, faculty and students came together Wednesday to honor and thank President Devorah Lieberman for her 12 years of leadership to the University of La Verne, and to wish her well as she embarks on a new chapter in her life.
At the end of the celebration, Lieberman, the University’s 18th president and her husband Roger Auerbach, were bestowed the honor of having the first floor of the Ludwick Center being named the Lieberman and Auerbach Interfaith Center in honor of their commitment of creating spaces of belonging for students. They were also awarded a Church of the Brethren honorary membership, symbolic of Lieberman’s stewardship of Church of the Brethren values that were set in place with the founding of the University.
The two-hour event, held on the Ludwick Center lawn, was full of heartfelt personal speeches given by trustees, staff, administrators and Lieberman herself. Those in attendance were able to have their picture taken with two life-size cardboard cutouts of Lieberman. The pictures were presented as magnets to guests. A variety of Bon Appetit foods and refreshments were served to guests.
“I started working at ULV around the same time as Devorah, and throughout our time together, I saw how extraordinarily well she channeled all of her energy to produce remarkable outcomes for ULV,” Shannon Capaldi, vice president of strategy and implementation, said.
Since taking office in July of 2011, the speakers said Lieberman, the University’s first woman president, has contributed to the well-being of the University’s students, the scholarly activity of the faculty and the vitality of the surrounding community while also advocating for engagement, inclusivity and respect among all.
“You have been an amazing leader for these past 12 years,” Avo Kechichian, chief financial officer, said in his speech.
Lieberman said she has dedicated her career to advancing three values: educating and cultivating future leaders, promoting inclusivity and diversity and leading by example with integrity.
“You have made an undeniable difference in the lives of our students and faculty, and you will be greatly missed,” Kechichian said.
Throughout her time as president, Lieberman had many significant accomplishments that greatly enhanced ULV. Lining the Ludwick Center east lawn were 12 posters titled “Lieberman’s Legacies,” with each one describing a significant accomplishment Lieberman made during her time as president.
“We as a community have watched this already beautiful campus become even more beautiful after her 12 years as president,” Auerbach said.
Among Lieberman’s many notable accomplishments are creating the La Verne experience program, launching the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Impact, integrating the College of Law and Public Service, opening the Ludwick Center for Spirituality, Cultural Understanding and Community Engagement, launching the College of Health and Community Well-Being with a physician assistant program, creating the office of diversity, equity and inclusion, establishing the office of civic and community engagement and represented ULV on many regional and national boards.
“You are much more than the first female president and the sum of all your achievements,” Kevin Marshall, dean of the College of Law, said in his speech.
Marshall said that through her actions, Lieberman reminded the entire ULV community that she is a devoted daughter, sister, spouse, mother, teacher, friend and mentor.
“You see the humanity in others and are a leader who has served us with your warrior heart,” Marshall said. “You are purpose driven, working 24 hours, seven days a week and 365 days a year.”
“There is never a time when Devorah is not on,” Anthony Revier, chair of the Board of Trustees, said.
Revier went on to say that even at 2 a.m., Lieberman was answering text messages and thinking of ULV.
“My 12 years here at ULV is only a small fraction of the 132 year history, and it is just a stepping stone for the next 132 years to come,” Lieberman said.
Rebecca Keeler can be reached at email@example.com.