Dr. Devorah Lieberman, the University of La Verne’s 18th and first female president, brings more than 30 years of higher education experience, scholarship, and leadership to the institution. Since taking office in 2011, she has contributed to the well-being of the university’s students, the scholarly activity of the faculty, and the vitality of the surrounding community while also advocating for engagement, inclusivity, and respect among all.
Lieberman is dedicated to three values: educating and cultivating future leaders, promoting inclusivity and diversity, and leading by example with integrity.
Under her leadership, the University of La Verne launched the La Verne Experience (LVE), a curriculum where students connect deeply with each other, with faculty, with staff, and with the greater community. Through the La Verne Experience, students “major in a mission.”
Additionally, President Lieberman is leading the university’s efforts to better serve underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation students. As a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, the University of La Verne’s student body reflects the demographic and socio-economic diversity of Southern California.
Throughout her career, she has brought national recognition to the institutions with which she has been associated. This includes receiving the American Council of Education (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 is president of the executive committee of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. She was named President of the Year in 2015 by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) for supporting an inclusive and engaged campus community. She is one of 13 national scholars invited to participate in the Project on the Future of Higher Education; was named the 2000 Oregon Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; and received the 1999 Distinguished Faculty Award from the Portland State Alumni Association. While chairing the statewide Board of Directors for the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement (OCHA), Lieberman 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 was named to the national Campus Compact Board of Directors in 2013. In 2012, she was named to the ACE Commission on Inclusion and to the Resource Development Committee for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). In 2015, she was awarded NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 2020, President Lieberman was appointed honorary senior advisory panelist at the Hague Institute for Global Justice, an independent, non-profit organization based in the Netherlands that aims to shape discourse and bridge gaps between research, policy, and practice on global issues at the critical intersection of peace, security, and justice.
Lieberman’s expertise includes intercultural communication and diversity issues in higher education. She has published and co-authored dozens of books and articles relating to diversity, institutional transformation, and issues affecting higher education. They include “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 is a contributor to The Huffington Post and writes articles for higher education publications addressing diversity and access to education. Lieberman has also presented and given keynote speeches at national and global conferences.
From 2004 to 2011, Lieberman served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Wagner College in New York. There, she led the strategic development of Civic Innovations, a multi-year effort that served to connect students with community engagement activities.
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 PhD in Intercultural Communication and Gerontology from the University of Florida (’84). She and her husband Roger Auerbach have two daughters, Alicea and Emery.