The First African American President of Oberlin College in Ohio

Oberlin College in Ohio, founded 184 years ago, has a long history of educating African American students. Before the Civil War, fugitive slaves were provided sanctuary on campus.

But throughout its long history, Oberlin has never had an African American president. That will all change in September when Carmen Twillie Ambar will become the college’s 15th president. Today, Oberlin College enrolls about 2,900 students. African Americans make up 5 percent of the student body.

In accepting the appointment as Oberlin’s next president, Dr. Ambar said, “Oberlin is a singular institution in American higher education, with a historic commitment to social justice, academic and musical excellence, and the liberal arts. 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.”

Since 2008, Dr. Ambar has been serving as president of Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is widely regarded as having done a remarkable job leading the woman’s college. The college’s endowment has increased 92 percent during her tenure and 18 new academic programs have been added. She has produced a budget surplus over the past three years and enrollments have grown in six of the past seven years. This fall, Cedar Crest College will enroll its largest entering class in the past decade. Her revolutionary “Sophomore Expedition” takes the entire second-year class on a study abroad trip.

Before being named president of Cedar Crest College, Dr. Amber was dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She was the youngest dean in university history. Earlier, she was the assistant dean at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, President Ambar is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She earned a master’s degree in public affairs at Princeton University and a juris doctorate at Columbia Law School.


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