Carmen Twillie Ambar came to Cedar Crest College as its thirteenth president 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, and women’s colleges in particular, have struggled to survive, 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 Ambar and 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) whose launch Ambar oversaw. Under her leadership, the traditional women’s college has seen enrollment growth in six of the last seven years and is on pace to welcome its largest freshman class since 2007 this fall. Total enrollment has increased for the last three years.
President Ambar was enthusiastically committed to helping Cedar Crest students, both current and prospective, see their potential to achieve at the highest levels in whatever field they choose and change the world for good. She has led initiatives to remove the barrier to high-impact educational practices for all students including The Sophomore Expedition, a shared short-term abroad experience funded almost entirely by the college for all sophomores beginning spring 2018; a robust First Year Experience and campus vibrancy initiatives that have increased retention from 69 percent to nearly 80 percent as of fall 2015; 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 board of the Women’s College Coalition and as Chair of the Colonial States Athletic Conference board. 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. In 2014, she was honored by the governor’s office as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.
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 previously worked in the New York City Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel.
She earned her juris doctorate from Columbia School of Law, her master’s in public affairs from Princeton University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is married to Saladin Malik Ambar, Ph.D., associate professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, and they have ten-year-old triplets, Gabrielle, Luke, and Daniel.