Carmen Twillie Ambar is the 15th president of Oberlin College and Conservatory and the first Black chief executive in the institution’s nearly two-century history.
Since coming to Oberlin in 2017, President Ambar has promoted a culture of academic excellence, innovation, environmental sustainability, and a renewed commitment to social engagement and fiscal responsibility—all while guiding the campus community safely through the pandemic.
During her tenure, Oberlin has seen record admissions; the launch of nine integrated concentrations and six interdivisional minors; and the creation of the Center for Engaged Liberal Arts, an initiative to connect students’ experience from the classroom to the world through internships, research, study-away opportunities, fellowships, and more.
She introduced Oberlin’s Internship+ program, which provides students with up to $5,000 to make valuable career-exploration opportunities possible.
To further ease the burden of the high cost of college, under Ambar’s leadership, Oberlin created a $10,000 renewable scholarship for all new students who enroll in the College of Arts and Sciences or the Conservatory of Music.
As the leader of Oberlin College, an institution that has never shied away from engaging in hard conversations about intractable challenges, Ambar’s Presidential Initiative on Race, Equity and Diversity, established in 2022 soon after the killing of George Floyd, sought to address issues of violence, police-community relationships, and racial injustice with the aim of helping our students, especially our students of color, participate fully in the life of the college.
As part of Oberlin’s commitment to fight climate change, Ambar implemented an aggressive, four-year sustainable infrastructure project to replace and upgrade the campus' century-old steam heating system with geothermal energy, a move that will help the college achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
Ambar holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from the Edmund A. Walsh School at Georgetown University, a master’s degree in public affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a law degree from Columbia School of Law.
You can find President Ambar on Instagram at @cambar1. She also dabbles in bodybuilding, so if you’re interested in fitness and well-being, check out @fitprezcta.
A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ambar is the mother of teen triplets Gabrielle, Luke, and Daniel.