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Brandeis reaches agreement with university president, ending public spat

Brandeis has extended the contact of President Ron Liebowitz for another five-year term, the university confirmed today. The news ends a dust-up between Liebowitz and the Board over his tenure and ensures continuity as the university navigates the new academic world brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board had originally only offered Liebowitz a one-year contract, which he roundly rejected. In a statement to the press, Liebowitz protested, stating that 2020 was one of the best fundraising years on record for Brandeis, despite the pandemic. He called the one-year contract extension a “dead-end,” “unreasonable,” and protested that it would not allow him time to close several million-dollar pledges he was working on.

Meyer Koplow, Chair of Brandeis’s Board of Trustees, told the Forward at the time that in addition to being dissatisfied with his fundraising, the negotiations had been taking longer than they had expected, and that Liebowitz had been asking for financial compensation that they could not agree to. Liebowitz, through a press statement, denied he was making this request.

The whole episode had led several alumni to question where the university’s priorities lay, especially knowing that Liebowitz had been brought on specifically because of his fundraising success in his previous job as president of Middlebury College in Vermont. The Faculty Senate, an influential body within the university, threw its weight behind Liebowitz, strengthening his case.

In the statement today, Liebowitz said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to continue advancing Brandeis’ contributions through its top-notch teaching, research, and community engagement…“We have made good progress with philanthropy and are now well positioned to be even more successful, launching mission-critical initiatives and growing transformational support from alumni and friends of the university.”

Joel Christensen, the president of the Faculty Senate, told the Forward, “I am happy they came to terms. The faculty are looking forward to helping lead Brandeis into the future without compromising our values.”

Koplow also praised Liebowitz as “a leader who is committed to driving Brandeis forward,” adding that “the board has always recognized that Ron has fostered a strong academic culture and created a detailed plan for an agile and dynamic university of the future.”

According to the university, Liebowitz helped grow Brandeis’s fundraising by 15% over the 2019 fiscal year, as well as securing the school’s largest endowed professorship and the largest single gift to the endowment to support student financial aid.

The Forward has reached out to the Board for further comment. President Liebowitz, through a spokesperson, declined to comment further.

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