The Paramount Theatre was packed April 21 for a tribute to President Jacqueline Liebergott, who is approaching the end of her tenure as president of the College. The hour-long program provided an opportunity for Emerson staff, faculty, students, and Liebergott family members to celebrate Liebergott’s accomplishments over her nearly two decades in office.
Several hundred attendees enjoyed the sentimental program, which included student performances and remarks by colleagues, faculty, and students. The tribute was directed and produced by Emerson Trustee, alumnus, and faculty member Kevin Bright ’76.
The event opened with Timothy John Smith, lead actor in Emerson Stage’s spring production of Man of La Mancha, singing “I, Don Quixote.” Later, Bright joined Smith onstage in a comedic impersonation of former Vice President for Administration and Finance Rob Silverman.
Noteworthy, a student a cappella group, performed “Unforgettable” and a quartet of Performing Arts faculty—Marlena Yannetti, Sarah Hickler, Amelia Broome-Silberman, and Kathleen Donohue—presented a performance of Noel Coward’s “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington.”
Faculty, staff, and students spoke during the interludes, sharing their most memorable moments with the president. Associate Professor of Performing Arts Mary Harkins shared a poignant observation: “It would be easy for me to refer to her as a leader with vision, but it was so much more than that. It was as if she had some deep insight that caused her to see what needed to be done and she simply could not let up until she had accomplished it.”
Visual and Media Arts Professor Tom Cooper spoke about meeting Liebergott for the first time while he worked an Open House event during his first year as a teacher at the College. “It was true, the combined charisma and charm of [then-] Vice President John Zacharis and newly appointed Graduate Dean Jackie Liebergott could not be missed, especially when they walked in tandem.”
Journalism major Joshua Sackheim ’13 performed “The Jackie Liebergott Song,” a wacky original tune in which he declared his affection for the president.
Women’s basketball forward Kathy Andrade ’11 read a moving email message titled “To the Lions that Roared,” which Liebergott sent to her and her teammates the day after their season ended two years ago. Andrade said that Liebergott, despite her busy schedule, always found time to attend the team’s games and cheer them on. “I didn’t ask her to be there,” said Andrade. “I didn’t even discuss it with her beforehand, but I know that’s the legacy that she will leave on this campus and within our community. She just cares.”
As people spoke onstage, photos of President Liebergott throughout her years at the College were projected behind them. A film directed by Kevin Bright was one of the highlights of the program.
Wearing a too-large Emerson football jersey that had been presented to her during the program, Liebergott took the stage at the end, and said, “This is my moment to say thank you. I’ve been blessed in so many ways while I’ve been here and it is an amazing privilege to have led this institution. It’s not the meetings that I’ll miss the most, or even my parking space, but rather, it is the day-to-day contact with you that I will miss…I simply want to say to the faculty and staff who are the lifeblood of this institution…please take care of this magical place, Emerson. It has transformed me and will remain in my heart. Take good care of your college.”
Photo Credits: David Rosen