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Katie Kennedy
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Cedar Crest College President Carmen Twillie Ambar to Step Down in August 2017

Carmen Twillie Ambar, the thirteenth president of Cedar Crest College, announced today that she will step down in August 2017, after nine years of leading the college, to become president of Oberlin College & Conservatory.

“My time here at Cedar Crest has been truly glorious. I have been surrounded by superb senior leaders, wonderful students, a dedicated faculty and staff, and a supportive Board of Trustees. While my time at Cedar Crest has come to an end, it is not without a sense of pride in the work we have done together, and an expectation that this good work will continue for years and years to come,” said Ambar.

In a message to the Cedar Crest community, Rear Admiral (Retired) David P. Keller, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, said, “President Ambar has provided exceptional leadership and service to Cedar Crest College, guiding the institution through challenges to become stronger, more vibrant, and poised to thrive for another 150 years. Through her visionary leadership, Cedar Crest has expanded its academic portfolio to include master’s and doctoral-level programs, seen consecutive years of enrollment growth, and is in the strongest financial position in its history. President Ambar has been a champion of the Cedar Crest College mission. For that, and much more, we are grateful and wish her happiness and success in her future endeavors.”

The Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Elizabeth Meade, the college’s current provost, as the interim president for the next two years while plans for a presidential search are made. Dr. Meade has served Cedar Crest for 24 years and has been provost for five. Because the college is so well-positioned, the Board is fully confident that this transition plan will ensure the continuation of the momentum fostered under Ambar’s leadership.

Ambar came to Cedar Crest College in 2008 after a highly successful tenure as vice president and dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University, where she was the youngest dean in the university’s history.

In an environment where many small private liberal-arts colleges are responding to the changing landscape of higher education, Ambar has helped Cedar Crest to thrive. Three straight years of multi-million dollar surpluses and a 35 percent growth in net assets have allowed the college to make significant investments in the campus without borrowing, including the new FalconPlex athletic facility which the college broke ground on in April. In addition, the college’s endowment has increased by almost 92 percent since she assumed the presidency.

She has presided over the launch of 18 new academic programs, with an emphasis on master’s and, most recently, doctoral-level programs in the School of Adult and Graduate Education (SAGE). During her tenure, total enrollment has increased each of the last three years, and the traditional women’s college has seen enrollment growth in six of the last seven years and is welcoming its largest freshman class since 2007 this fall.

President Ambar is committed to helping students see their potential differently, to achieve at the highest levels in whatever field they choose, and to ultimately change the world for good. She has led initiatives to expand access to high-impact educational practices for all students, which include The Sophomore Expedition, a shared short-term study abroad experience funded almost entirely by the college for all sophomores beginning spring 2018; campus vibrancy initiatives and a robust First-Year-Experience that have increased retention by 11 percent; the 4-Year Guarantee, which provides a clear path to graduation; dual degrees, to help students get their master’s faster; and living learning communities. The diversity of the student body has increased from 16.52 percent in fall 2008 to 37 percent in fall 2016, with the highest increases in Hispanic and African American populations.

Ambar serves on the boards of the Women’s College Coalition, the Pennsylvania Campus Compact, the Lehigh Valley Association for Independent Colleges, and is the Chair of the Colonial States Athletic Conference. In 2014, she was honored by the governor’s office as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. Ambar has earned several awards for her support of women including the 2012 Girls Scouts “Take the Lead” Award, the 2011 American Association of University Women (AAUW) Gateway to Equity Award from the organization’s Allentown Branch, and the 2010 Athena Award from the Women’s Business Council (WBC) of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to her time at Rutgers, she served as assistant dean of graduate education at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. As an attorney, she worked in the New York City Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel.

Ambar earned her juris doctorate from Columbia Law School, her master’s in public affairs from Princeton University, and her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is married to Saladin Malik Ambar, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Senior Scholar at the Center on the American Governor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ambar has ten-year-old triplets, Gabrielle, Luke, and Daniel.