“There has never been a more important moment to be dedicated to and engaged in women’s education and in connecting our students to the world beyond our gates.”

Carmen Twillie Ambar
Cedar Crest College

Contact: David Jwanier, media relations associate, 610-740-3790

Carmen Twillie Ambar inaugurated as Cedar Crest College’s 13th President Friday

Allentown, PA (October 23, 2009)—Carmen Twillie Ambar was officially installed as the 13th president in the 142-year history of Cedar Crest College Friday, October 23, in front of a packed house of 700. During her inaugural address, Ambar said she is proud to lead the College during a time when it is rededicating itself to educating the women leaders of tomorrow in the liberal arts.

 "We have to embrace our women’s college status. We know that women’s college graduates are disproportionately high achievers, and we will make this case boldly, rather than hide from it. The world needs more women leaders," she said."In terms of the liberal arts, the economic crisis tells us that this type of education is more relevant than it has ever been. The jobs students will be doing 10 years from now may not even exist today. What better way to be prepared than to develop critical thinking skills and get a broad exposure to a diversity of ideas?"

Ambar noted that the Cedar Crest College was born in 1867 during an era of national reconstruction after the Civil War, and that the school grew from a first class of fewer than 10 students in a church basement to a vibrant campus with approximately 1,900 students. She said Cedar Crest has entered a new era of reconstruction, from which a stronger institution will emerge.

 "As we look ahead to our 150-year anniversary, we have never been better prepared to address the needs for our reconstruction," she said."As your 13th president of Cedar Crest College, I assure you that our best days are still ahead."

Ambar comes from a family used to overcoming difficult circumstances, and she doesn’t shy away from challenges. Her father, Manuel, picked cotton and plowed fields during an impoverished youth in Arkansas, and later went on to earn a master’s degree. Her mother, Gwendolyn, earned a Ph.D. at a time when few African American women did so. Both went on to become educators.

"These two people taught me more than any degree could—that you can make possibilities out of impossibilities," she said.

In her first year, President Ambar launched a comprehensive strategic planning process designed to reaffirm Cedar Crest as a premier liberal arts college for women. Among other things, the plan includes:

  1. The creation of living-learning communities
  2. The expansion of study-abroad opportunities/global education
  3. The addition of more graduate programs

Ambar, who recently began her second year as president of Cedar Crest, came to the campus after a highly successful stint as dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University, where she was the youngest dean in the University’s history. Previously, she served as assistant dean for graduate education at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. Before her work in higher education, she served as an assistant corporation counsel in the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York from 1994-98.

President Ambar is nationally known for her record of accomplishment in higher education and, in particular, her commitment to women’s education. She is widely recognized for her efforts in promoting women’s global leadership across all areas of the student experience.

During her time at Cedar Crest College, she has been highly visible in bringing this and other critical messages to the campus as well as area businesses and organizations, including the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley through its Women’s Leadership Initiative, the YWCA of Bethlehem, and the Rotary Club of Allentown.

Ambar has received numerous awards and gubernatorial appointments for her work in higher education and in the community, including the Woodrow Wilson School’s Edward P. Bullard Distinguished Alumnus Award. She is also an honorary inductee to the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ambar holds a bachelor of science degree in foreign service from the Edmund A. Walsh School at Georgetown University, a master of public affairs degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a law degree from Columbia Law School. She is married to Dr. Saladin Malik Ambar, visiting assistant professor at Lehigh University, and they have two-year-old triplets, Gabrielle, Luke, and Daniel.


Located in Allentown, PA, Cedar Crest College was recently selected as a Top 10 women’s college in the United States by Forbes. The nationally ranked liberal arts college is committed to the education of women leaders in an increasingly global society. Founded in 1867, Cedar Crest currently enrolls approximately 1,900 students—full-time, part-time and graduate—in more than 30 fields of study.