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Jacqueline Liebergott will step down as president

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 Liebergott Years by the Numbers
Item 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
Full-time Faculty 91 178
Students Living on Campus 1,000 1,700

The relocation plan revitalized the neighborhood adjacent to the Boston Common and included the purchase and renovation of four buildings; restoration of 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 full-time faculty, and added new programs, including a master of fine arts in media art, a master’s in health communication with Tufts Medical School, a master’s in publishing, a bachelor of arts in marketing communications, 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.”

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