The Oberlin College Board of Trustees announced today that Carmen Twillie Ambar will become the College’s 15th president and first African American leader in the institution’s 184-year history.
“Oberlin is a singular institution in American higher education, with an historic commitment to social justice, academic and musical excellence, and the liberal arts,” Ambar says. “I look forward to my work with Oberlin’s faculty, staff, students, board, and alumni to think creatively and collaboratively together. I am humbled to be joining this institution and excited about the opportunity to lead it into its next era.”
Currently, Ambar serves as president of Cedar Crest College, but will be on Oberlin’s campus full time beginning in September.
As president at Cedar Crest, Ambar’s focus was on access and retention. She led several initiatives including 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. Under her leadership, the diversity of the student body increased from 16 percent in fall 2008 to 37 percent in fall 2016, with the highest increases in Hispanic and African American populations.
“I’m incredibly excited to work with Carmen Ambar as Oberlin’s next president,” says Chris Canavan ’84, Chair-Elect of Oberlin’s Board of Trustees. “Her life story, her academic achievements, her devotion to the liberal arts and her love of music make her the very embodiment of Oberlin. Under her leadership, I’m confident that Oberlin can advance with the times without losing sight of who we are.”
In past positions, Ambar served as assistant dean of graduate education at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. As an attorney, she previously worked in the New York City Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel.
Ambar earned her juris doctor at Columbia Law School, her master’s in public affairs at Princeton University, and her B.S. in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.