I am indebted to Mackenzie Beer ’12 for suggesting that I use this blog to profile members of the college community. Readers of Time will recognize the format—though five questions seemed more reasonable than ten—and I thank Mackenzie and the other editors at MiddBlog for sending me these questions, which we’ve put to Ron Liebowitz.
The hope is to run this feature on a weekly basis. Wish me luck in staying organized enough to get this done on a regular basis.
1. If you could have a picnic on any roof of any building on campus, which would it be?
Assuming all the roofs were flat and could accommodate a picnic, I would have to go with Mead Chapel. The view from there would be superb, and the inscription on the building, “The Strength of the Hills is His Also,” would resonate more deeply than from the ground level.
2. If you could change the Middlebury mascot into any mythological beast, which would it be?
A hard one, since as far as I can tell, all beasts were conquered/killed by one of the gods . . . but having said that, I guess the Middlebury Minotaur (man’s body, bull’s head) might be the best of the lot: the Middlebury Minotaurs has a nice ring to it (and the our uniforms would be something to see).
3. Due to competitive admissions at liberal arts colleges, there is a common sentiment that creative and athletic pursuits are merely gimmicks for a resume, and less substantial skills in the spectrum of learning. How would you challenge that assumption?
I would invite anyone who believed such nonsense to come to any one of the many lunches that Jessica and I host at 3 South Street and just listen to our students. Just last week, we had 26 captains of our varsity sports teams for lunch, and that lunch alone would dispel that “common sentiment.” Likewise a lunch earlier this month was with the student board of the Old Stone Mill, and that lunch, too, would debunk any such sentiment about “creative and athletic pursuits” being “mere gimmicks.” What creative and athletic engagement offer liberal arts students are things that benefit one for life.
4. What are you most excited for this month?
Thanksgiving, a holiday focused on family that I have always loved; and, the beginning of (ice) hockey season, my favorite spectator sport.
5. Who is your favorite US president?
Another hard one, and between two predictable ones: Lincoln and Kennedy. I will go with JFK, perhaps, on balance, for sentimental reasons more than any other (for who could not identify with and admire what Lincoln did, and when he did it?). But I select JFK because he was the first president I remember. I remember him winning the election, remember the Cuban missile crisis and the confidence he inspired in the country, and remember his assassination and watching the emotional funeral procession, and remember his meaningful challenges to the American people, including the goal to improve science and put man on the moon by the end of the decade (the 1960s)—which he did. He represented a huge generational transition from the post-War 1950s, and gave the country great hope and energy, even if his list of accomplishments was short because of his brief presidency.