A tribute to Liebergott

by Beacon Staff • April 28, 2011

When Jackie Liebergott took office, this year’s freshman class was just being born. And as the class of 2014 went from Huggies to Hemmingway, Emerson grew up, too. 

In 1992 Emerson was 112 years old and going through a latelife crisis. The school was recovering from an ill-fated attempt to relocate to the suburbs, only about half of incoming students ended up matriculating, and then-President John Zacharis had just passed away.

The future of Emerson seemed as depressed as a musical theater student sitting before a calculus test.

And then came President Liebergott.

Our leader made Emerson much more selective, decreasing admissions rates from 74 percent to 47, and raising the graduation rate from 52 percent to 80. She made Emerson bigger, better, and downtown—transforming it from a safety school to a reach college, a place we are proud to be a part of.

Of course each year of her tenure has been different from the ones previous, and this year, like all years, has had it’s ups and hiccups.

On the bright side, our sunny-side’s became cage-free. More than 1,400 students signed the petition to crack our college’s dining hall procedures. Weeks of work paid off—all of the eggs in the dining hall are now cage-free.

This year also brought changes for the least chicken of Emerson students—performers. Practice rooms at Emerson have been notoriously scarce. Rehearsals were forced to relocate to decidedly impractical locations: lobbies, kitchens, the Common. And while there is much work to be done, the administration has begun to respond to demand for more dance digs and acting areas by granting students access to previously closed-off studios.

A remarkable number of students came together to participate and produce a Lady Gaga lipdub, which garnered over 950,000 views on YouTube.

We rallied on the Common to prove that “Love is Louder,” when the Westboro Baptist Church  threatened to protest a production of the Laramie Project on our campus.

But the past nine months haven’t come without their fair share of hardship, too.

Our community suffered the tragic loss of two students, film majors Justin Amorratanasuchad and Grace Kaskie. Their deaths were devastating to friends, faculty, and classmates. As a community, Emerson continues to grieve.

Basketball players were shocked to learn of revered head coach Hank Smith’s sudden departure. Confusion over why the coach left lead to an outcries for justification that remains unanswered.

ECMobile sucks.

The on-campus housing situation was as confusing as all get out.

And eCommon was shot down at “Y:03”—both semesters.

Still, the Emerson community remains tight-knit and supportive, just as it always has. And we remain optimistic about the future of the college as we say goodbye to President Liebergott. Incoming president Lee Pelton will have some big shoes to fill and a quirky student body to get acquainted with. He has with an impressive résumé and—as the first black president in Emerson’s history—looks to pick up where Leibergott left off as the first female to fill the office.

If this past year serves as any indication of what’s to come, we are in store for more changes next year. We say: bring it on, Emerson.