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Charles Ambrose, University of Central Missouri President
Dr. Charles M. Ambrose became the University of Central Missouri’s 15th president Aug. 1, 2010. A career educator who is a fervent advocate of servant leadership and engaged learning, he is committed to promoting academic quality, excellence in teaching, and the collegiate experience.
Prior to accepting his UCM post, Dr. Ambrose served for 12 years as president of Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C. When he was recruited as Pfeiffer’s president, Dr. Ambrose was only 36 years old, making him the youngest serving president of a college or university in North Carolina in 1998. When his tenure ended at Pfeiffer, he was the second-longest-serving president of the state’s 36 independent colleges and universities.
During his first year at UCM, Dr. Ambrose helped guide the institution in building a new Strategic Governance Model, and provided leadership through an extensive administrative and academic review process designed to provide a stronger, more viable educational experience for students, while cutting operational costs.
Under his direction, the campus initiated a new strategic positioning platform in 2012 to provide a more articulated understanding of what makes UCM unique, and help guide the institution in establishing its future priorities. The president also worked in cooperation with the Lee’s Summit R-VII School District, Metropolitan Community College and private corporations to create the Innovation Campus. It will allow high school juniors to complete a bachelor’s degree in four years with little or no college debt, while also taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities in high-tech industries. His vision and leadership in 2013 contributed to the new Learning to a Greater Degree Contract for student completion, a comprehensive initiative designed to help students graduate on time.
The president has continued to build strong relationships with men and women in uniform. This has included the establishment of the Whiteman Advantage Program, which brings together personnel from Whiteman Air Force Base and the university to work cooperatively in creating new educational opportunities for military members. The university also developed the Military Tuition Package, which provides education savings for veterans and active duty men and women currently serving their country, and established the Military and Veterans Success Center.
Dr. Ambrose has sought to build the student body, an effort which paid off with record fall enrollments in 2011 and 2012. To help make education more accessible, the university also entered new articulation agreements with institutions such as Johnson County Community College, Metropolitan Community College and Linn State Technical College under the president’s leadership.
In addition to his presidencies at Pfeiffer and UCM, Dr. Ambrose served as vice president for advancement at Carson-Newman College, assistant to the chancellor for university advancement at Western Carolina University, and executive assistant to the president at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. He is also a former faculty member, having taught graduate classes in educational administration and legal issues. Dr. Ambrose has participated in many scholarly and professional activities throughout his career, and served for two years as chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Presidents Council.
President Ambrose attended Furman University, where he was a four-year letterman and captain of the soccer team. After graduating from Furman with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he earned two advanced degrees in higher education administration, a master’s from the University of Louisville and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Georgia.
Dr. Ambrose and his wife, Kris, are active in community projects to help individuals in need. The couple has two children, Charlie, a UCM student; and Kathryn, a 2013 Warrensburg High School graduate who plans to attend Drake University this fall.