MIIS first appeared on Middlebury’s radar through a trustee connection in 2004. Later that year, the college conducted an exhaustive probe into the finances and academics of the institute. Liebowitz and a committee presented their findings and answered questions in March 2005, determining financial concerns to be outweighed by the expanded opportunities of affiliating with Monterey.
“At the time of the merger, there was a strong emphasis on maintaining independence between the campuses,” Noah Graham, a professor of physics at the college, said, “both financially because many at the college were concerned about Monterey’s deficits, and academically because — as President Liebowitz put it at the time — we did not want to become like a university, where ‘undergraduate students compete with graduate students for the faculty’s time and attention — and usually lose.”’
Faculty at the time were given the sense that the institutions would remain financially and academically separate. In an email to The Campus, Priscilla Bremser, a professor of mathematics at the college, recalled that, “Ron Liebowitz and his team assured us that there would be a ‘firewall’ between the finances of the two institutions, that our reputation would be enhanced by the association, that Monterey would not be a distraction and that it was a good fit because … sorry, I found that argument so utterly unconvincing that I can’t even paraphrase it.”
A Campus article from 2005 notes that “Liebowitz stressed that the final arrangement agreed upon is not an acquisition but an affiliation” in response to the overwhelming faculty disapproval. However, a 2010 progress report written by the college notes that the relationship “initially took the form of an affiliation, with the aim of a merger as the ultimate objective” if the affiliation was successful. By February 2008, Middlebury had notified the NESCAC of its intent to merge with MIIS.
In a 2014 interview with The Campus, Liebowitz — with the benefit of nine years of hindsight — clarified his future goals for the relationship. “My hope, then, would be that students take advantage of the opportunities to combine a professional international education offered at Monterey with their undergraduate traditional liberal arts experience to the benefit of their post-college plans; that they would use the resources that Monterey offers for both advanced degrees and a robust, international-oriented network,” he said.
Liebowitz, who left the college in 2015 and has been the president of Brandeis University since 2016, declined to answer questions from The Campus. A spokesperson wrote that “President Liebowitz and many other academic and administrative leaders at Middlebury worked together and with the Board of Trustees to bring about the affiliation with and acquisition of the Monterey (now Middlebury) Institute prior to his departure from Middlebury five years ago,” and directed questions about the relationship between the institutions to current administrators at Middlebury.
Riley Board '22 is the Editor in Chief of The Campus. She previously served as a Managing Editor, News Editor, Arts & Academics Editor and writer.
She is majoring in Linguistics as an Independent Scholar and is an English minor on the Creative Writing Track.
Board has worked as a writer at Smithsonian Folklife Magazine and as a reporter for The Burlington Free Press. Currently, she is a 2021-2022 Kellogg Fellow working on her linguistics thesis. In her free time, you can find her roller skating in E-Lot or watching the same sitcoms over and over again.
Jake Gaughan is an Editor at Large.
He previously served as an Opinion Editor and News Editor.