May 30 update: Carmen Twillie Ambar stepping down, Elizabeth Meade to be Interim President
Dear Campus Community,
I am writing today to inform you that Carmen Ambar will be stepping down from her role as president of Cedar Crest on August 1, 2017, to assume the presidency at Oberlin College & Conservatory. While we will miss her greatly, we are fortunate that she has been an outstanding president for nine years, and we wish her happiness and success in her future endeavors.
Carmen 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.
As we move forward, one of the hallmarks of Carmen’s tenure has been the recruitment of a strong leadership team that has worked diligently to move the strategic vision for Cedar Crest forward. The Board has the utmost confidence in this team and wishes to ensure that this good work continues. Accordingly, the Board has unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Meade, the college’s current provost, as interim president for the next two years as plans for a presidential search are made. Because the college is so well-positioned, the Board is fully confident that this transition plan will ensure stability and the continuation of the momentum fostered under Carmen’s leadership.
In an environment where many small private liberal-arts colleges have struggled, Carmen 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.
Carmen, more importantly, has been 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.
While there will be ample opportunity in the future to celebrate Carmen’s tenure as president, I would be remiss if I ended this note without saying that she has truly been a champion of Cedar Crest College and its mission. Thanks in great part to her leadership, Cedar Crest will no doubt continue to become the kind of institution that others aspire to be.
Carmen will be on Oberlin’s campus over the next few days as part of the announcement of her new role. All faculty, staff and Trustees are invited to attend a breakfast with Carmen and the leadership team on Friday, June 2, at 9 a.m. in Canova Commons. In the meantime, please watch this brief video message from Carmen.
Rear Admiral (Retired) David P. Keller
Chair, Cedar Crest College Board of Trustees