After 17 Years in Office, Emerson College’s Jacqueline Liebergott Announces She Will Step Down as President in June 2011

<strong>Contact: Andy Tiedemann, 617.824.8541</strong>
December 02, 2009

After serving 17 years as president and overseeing the creation of a new campus, a 55 percent increase in enrollment, and the creation of major new academic programs, Emerson College's Jacqueline Liebergott announced today that she will step down as the school's president on June 30, 2011.

"Emerson has been at the center of my professional life for nearly four decades," said Liebergott, who came to the College as a faculty member in 1970 and later became an academic dean and vice president. "I've experienced the joy of teaching, the satisfaction that comes from publishing research, and the challenge of administering a complex institution. At every step of the way, I have enjoyed friendship and support from colleagues, Trustees, alumni, parents, students, and so many others. Whatever I may have contributed to Emerson, it has given me so much more."

Liebergott, who has served as president since 1993, told an assembly of students, faculty, staff and Trustees that she reached her decision "with mixed emotions but with a firm belief that it is the right course of action for the College and for me." She said she was announcing her decision at this time to provide ample time for the College to conduct a national search for her successor.

Liebergott assumed the presidency several years after the failure of an ill-conceived plan to move the college from Boston to suburban Lawrence. At the time of her appointment, the institution was financially unstable and faced an uncertain future.

Working with the Board of Trustees and supported by faculty, staff, alumni and city officials, the administration implemented a bold plan to relocate the College from the Back Bay to the Theatre District and create a state-of-the-art campus. The initiatives have restored the College's financial stability as evidenced by the upgrading of its bond rating from junk bond status in 1993 to a Standard and Poors A- investment rating in 2009.

The relocation plan revitalized the neighborhood adjacent to the Boston Common and included the purchase and renovation of four buildings; restoration the historic Cutler Majestic Theatre; and construction of three new buildings, including the Paramount Center on Lower Washington Street, which will open in 2010. All told, the College has invested $450 million in the Theatre District and increased its facilities space from 400,000 square feet to a million square feet.

Plans are underway to build an academic-residential center in Hollywood, California, to house the school's 12-year-old Los Angeles Program, support its burgeoning alumni network, and bolster its West Coast student recruiting efforts.

Beyond bricks and mortar, Emerson under Liebergott's leadership has created two new schools and an institute for liberal arts, nearly doubled the size of its fulltime faculty, and added new programs, including a master of fine arts in media art, a masters in health communication with Tufts Medical School, a masters in publishing, a bachelor of arts in marketing communication, and an undergraduate program in business and entrepreneurial studies.

The new facilities and academic enhancements have led to a nearly four-fold increase in applications for admission, and a 55 percent increase in enrollment. The academic profile of the student body has been improved, and the percentage of students who graduate in four years has increased from 52 percent to 80 percent.

Emerson's efforts have been hailed by city officials, business and civic leaders, and the news media. A 2003 Boston Globe editorial praised "Emerson's Transformation." A 2006 cover story in the Boston Globe Magazine declared that Emerson has come "Out of the Shadows" and taken its rightful place among the many fine colleges and universities in Boston.

Peter Meade, Chair of the Emerson Board of Trustees, praised Liebergott's accomplishments as "unprecedented in the history of our college and unsurpassed by any other institution of higher learning." He added, "We will be forever grateful for the remarkable job she has done."

Meade said the Board will undertake an intensive national search "to find a new leader who can build on the solid foundation Jackie has established and take the college to ever greater heights."

Founded in 1880, Emerson is the only comprehensive college or university in America dedicated exclusively to communication and the arts in a liberal arts context. It enrolls nearly 4,000 students from 48 states and several dozen countries.

The Liebergott Years by the Numbers
  1993  2009
Applications for Admission 1,849 6,943
Percent of Applicants Admitted  74 42
Freshman SAT Scores  1110  1215
Enrollment (FTE) 2,561 3,949
Graduation Rate  52% 80%
Facility Space   400,000 sf 1 million sf
Bond Rating   Junk S&P A-Investment Grade
Fulltime Faculty  91  178
Students Living on Campus 1,000 1,700

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