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Brandeis president says university’s contract proposal aims to force him out

Ron Liebowitz, who has received a one-year extension offer as chance to ‘improve’ fundraising, says deal wouldn’t allow him to honor commitments to donors

Brandeis University President Ron Liebowitz speaks at a news conference in Waltham, Massachusetts, October 2, 2017. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images via JTA)
Brandeis University President Ron Liebowitz speaks at a news conference in Waltham, Massachusetts, October 2, 2017. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images via JTA)

JTA — Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz has accused the US university’s board of offering him a short-term contract intended to force him out.

Displeased with Liebowitz’s fundraising during his tenure, the board offered him a one-year deal to see if he could improve, according to the Boston Globe. Liebowitz balked at the offer, arguing in a letter to the board on Monday that such a contract would not allow him to follow through on commitments made to major donors and secure those gifts.

Brandeis, which was founded as a nonsectarian Jewish university, saw donations decline under the previous president at the same time that applications for admission to the school increased. Liebowitz was considered an impressive fundraiser in his previous role as president of Middlebury College, where he oversaw a $535 million campaign, increased the rate of alumni donations and expanded the summer language immersion programs.

Upon arriving at Brandeis in December 2015, Liebowitz said he found a fundraising staff in “disarray.”

In his letter to the board, the 63-year-old president called for a “conversation about my contract,” according to the Globe.

Meyer Koplow, a board member, said Liebowitz had asked for a raise that the board “could not agree to.” Liebowitz was paid $956,000 in 2018.

“As time went on, it became more clear that he was not meeting fund-raising expectations and the board decided to offer a one-year extension to see if he could succeed in his efforts,” Koplow wrote in an email to the Globe. “We all wished for his success.”

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