DEVORAH A. LIEBERMAN, Ph.D.
President, University of La Verne
Dr. Devorah Lieberman’s personal and professional life has been dedicated to three values and goals: educating and cultivating future leaders through higher education, promoting inclusivity among all while honoring diverse cultures, and leading by example with integrity. Lieberman has been able to cohesively blend her personal values with the mission of the University of La Verne as its 18th and first female President in the institution’s 125-year history. She brings over 30 years of higher education experience, scholarship, and leadership to the La Verne, California community. Since the beginning of her presidency, she has sought to actively contribute to the well-being of the University’s students, the scholarly activity of the faculty, the health of the surrounding community, and continuously advocates for engagement, inclusivity and respect among all.
Dr. Lieberman has dedicated her life to education, tolerance, and leading with integrity. Her personal values seamlessly blend with the values of the University of La Verne (lifelong learning, civic and community engagement, ethical reasoning, and diversity and inclusivity). Her leadership philosophy thoroughly incorporates the mission of the University of La Verne, and provides opportunities for students to achieve their personal goals and become successful professionals and contributing members of the global community through a student-centered, values-based, and diverse learning environment. Under her leadership, every student now participates in the La Verne Experience (LVE), a curriculum that is interwoven throughout the University’s student-centered, values-based, and diverse learning environment. The LVE program, which connects theory to practice, fosters community and civic engagement, and reinforces connections between 8,300 students and faculty, across all academic and co-curricular programs, and throughout all 10 University of La Verne campuses across Southern California.
The LVE program is strongly connected with the University’s dedication to civic and community engagement. Partnerships between the University of La Verne and numerous organizations throughout Southern California have been forged because of Dr. Lieberman’s vision for the LVE. University of La Verne students are actively working with homeless shelters, retirement communities, school districts, community gardens, and civic clean-up projects to improve and inspire those that interact in any way with the University of La Verne.
Dr. Lieberman has promoted University-wide diversity and inclusivity efforts, including becoming a model interfaith campus, a goal that has been included in the University’s strategic vision. Her deep commitment to diversity and inclusion has led the University of La Verne to be viewed as a model interfaith campus, a recognition that was awarded by President Obama via the White House initiative on interfaith initiatives in higher education institutions. In 2014, she was one of the only three university presidents to have the honor of speaking at the White House on this topic. Dr. Lieberman has been an unwavering supporter of student-led initiatives that promote interfaith cooperation, religious diversity, and shared values, while also embracing the difference that make individuals unique.
Additionally, Dr. Lieberman’s leadership serves a major need with underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation students. As a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the University of La Verne’s student demographics represent the diversity of Southern California; the composition of our undergraduate student population is 48% Hispanic, 26% Caucasian, 9% African American, and 9% Asian/Pacific Islander. Nationally, nearly 50% of all college students take six years to graduate, but the overall completion rate for low-income students is around 25 percent.
In line with her values and the values of the University of La Verne, President Lieberman was named to the national Campus Compact Board of Directors in early 2013. The organization is a coalition of over 1,100 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education and the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement. In January 2012, she was named to the American Council of Education’s (ACE) Commission on Inclusion and to the Resource Development Committee for the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU). She is currently serving on the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC) Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges & Universities, and is highly involved with the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles chapter, as well as community boards including Casa Colina Board of Directors, and Los Angeles County Fair Association Board.
During her 7.5 years (2004-2011) as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, Lieberman led the strategic development of Civic Innovations, a multi-year effort that served to connect students with community-engaged activities to improve the lives of others. This campus-wide initiative served to connect students with community-engaged activities to improve the lives of others. Throughout her administrative career, Lieberman has brought national recognition to the institutions with which she has been associated. This includes receiving the ACE “Bringing the World into the Classroom” award, the Washington Center “Higher Education Civic Engagement Award,” and the TIAA-CREF “Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Excellence.”
Lieberman’s personal honors include being named President of the Year in 2015 by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) for her support of an inclusive campus and her encouragement to have all members of the University of La Verne be engaged on campus. She is one of 13 national scholars invited to participate in the three-year Project on the Future of Higher Education from 2002 through 2005; the 2000 Oregon Professor of the Year named by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; 1999 Distinguished Faculty Award presented by the Portland State Alumni Association; and while chairing the statewide Board of Directors for the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement (OCHA), received OCHA’s 1995 Si Se Puede Award and its 1998 Amistad Award, as well as the 2003 Las Mujeres de la Raza Award from the Portland State students and the City of Portland.
Lieberman has a strong background in intercultural communication and diversity issues in higher education, publishing and co-authoring dozens of books and articles relating to diversity, institutional transformation and current issues affecting higher education including, “Successful Models and Practices” in the 2012 edition of Transforming Undergraduate Education: Theory that Compels and Practices that Succeed, and “Engaging a campus in effective intercultural and interracial communication initiatives” in Coming in from the Margins: Faculty Development’s Emerging Organizational Development Role in Institutional Change (2011). She has published several editorials for the Huffington Post, as well as articles for higher education literature addressing issues of higher education, diversity, and access to education. Lieberman has also presented and given keynote speeches at national and global conferences.
Lieberman earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Humboldt State University (’75), a master’s degree in Intercultural Communication from San Diego State University (’77), and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication and Gerontology from the University of Florida (’84). Lieberman and her husband Roger Auerbach have two daughters, Alicea and Emery.