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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 provided leadership for the university's new Strategic Governance for Student Success Model, and led an extensive governance, administrative and academic review process designed to provide a stronger, more viable educational experience for students, while cutting operational costs and maximizing institutional effectiveness. Under his direction, the campus initiated a new strategic positioning platform in 2012 to provide a more articulated understanding of the vision and core values of UCM, and help guide the institution in establishing its future priorities to reach the university's fullest potential. The president is also working to build a new educational model in cooperation with the Lee's Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and Fortune 500 corporations to create the Missouri Innovation Campus, which received national recognition during a visit to campus July 24, 2013 by President Barack Obama. Because of his work in helping to bridge the skills gap with Missouri's workforce and reduce students' college debt load through The MIC, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon recognized Dr. Ambrose with the 2013 Governor's Economic Development Advancement Award.
Dr. Ambrose's vision and leadership in 2013 also contributed to the new Learning to a Greater Degree Contract for college completion and student success, a comprehensive initiative designed to help students graduate on time with a degree that provides greater purpose and meaning. He has continued to build strong relationships with men and women in uniform. This includes the establishment of the Whiteman Advantage Program, which has brought together personnel from Whiteman Air Force Base and the university to create 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 in 2011.
UCM achieved three consecutive record fall enrollments, 2011-2013, under Dr. Ambrose's leadership. To help make education more accessible, the university has also entered articulation agreements with institutions such as Johnson County Community College, Metropolitan Community College and Linn State Technical College.
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. Additionally, he is 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. He currently serves on the President's Council of the Association of Governing Boards, Chair of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Board of Directors of the Kansas City Area Development Commission, and on the Presidential Task Force on Tennis and Higher Education of the United States Tennis Association.
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 (also a graduate of Furman University) are active in community projects to help individuals in need. In 2003, the Ambrose's completed The Ride for the Ribbon, a 1,000 mile bike-ride raising over $200,000 for breast cancer awareness and early detection. The couple has two children, Charlie, a UCM graduate, and Kathryn, a freshman at Drake University.