ALLENTOWN, PA – October 3, 2014  – When Carmen Twillie Ambar arrived at Cedar Crest College in July 2008 to become its 13th president, the women’s college was experiencing several challenges. Among them were declining enrollment, the perception that women’s colleges were a thing of the past, a previous president’s short tenure, and the need for a vision that could take the College into a new era.

Ambar will give her State of the College address to students, faculty and area business leaders on Thursday, October 9 at 11:00 am in Alumnae Hall Auditorium. She says the overall message she hopes to convey is about transformation and successful adaptation, both at the college and in our lives.

“To me, this is a story about successful transformation,” said Ambar. “Like many colleges in 2009, Cedar Crest had to adapt to a new normal. It’s not a secret that the financial crises brought many challenges to small private colleges, and Cedar Crest was no different. It was a trying time. We needed a new direction, and even as we rededicated ourselves to our mission, we needed a new thinking about that mission. We’ve made strategic decisions that provided us opportunities to redefine Cedar Crest and the impact she makes on the community. We have had enviable success these last few years. Today Cedar Crest is a role model for what it means to be a thriving institution.”

Over the past six years the College:

  • ·       Completed 15 of 22 initiatives in its strategic plan that focuses on women’s leadership, global connectivity, and civic engagement.
  • ·       Has launched four new non-clinical majors in Health Sciences this fall, building on the College’s strengths in science and nursing.
  • ·       Has launched four online degree programs including criminal justice, business, a master’s in education, and RN to BSN degrees.
  • ·       Has launched two graduate degrees in Art Therapy and Fine Arts.
  • ·       Increased enrollment to the highest level in six years, and features the most academically accomplished traditional class in 10 years with an average GPA of 3.44.
  • ·       Created a new School of Adult and Graduate Education and built partnerships with local business and school districts to assist their employees in pursuing educational opportunities.
  • ·       In 2013-14, the Cedar Crest Annual Fund grew 46 percent.
  • ·       In 2013-14, increased the college’s endowment by $5 million, a 19 percent growth. Half of that increase was due to market growth and investments, while the remaining half was due to gifts. Overall since 2008, the College’s endowment has grown by $7.8 million, a 42 percent increase.
  • ·       The College has added two new endowed chairs in nursing and education.
  • ·       This fall, construction began on the College’s dining hall.
  • ·       Ranked as a Top Regional College and Top Value for four years in a row as rated by U.S. News and World Report.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the college is gearing up to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2017.

Ambar also knows that now is no time to rest. “This transformation is in progress. Only the colleges that continue to adapt will succeed and thrive,” she said. “We need to stay in a state of constant momentum in this changing competitive landscape. It’s not enough for a college to just maintain the status quo any more. Lack of creativity is punished in this new normal and puts the institution at a disadvantage. We must continue to innovate and explore.”

Ambar points out, “Private victories occur before the public ones. It took us five years of hard work and it has been a slow build, but now we are seeing those results. Change doesn’t happen overnight.”

And as for the women’s college question, she says, “Whenever I’m asked if Cedar Crest can remain a women’s college I remind them that niche institutions like ours have their own set of challenges. Can we remain a women’s college? Yes, but only with innovation and a willingness to thinking more globally about our mission. That includes offering online degree programs, new majors, and building upon our graduate and undergraduate adult programs. Whenever I meet prospective students I’m excited to tell them about the competitive advantages of a women’s college. The world needs more women leaders and today’s young women will stand a better chance of becoming one if they attend a women’s college.”

Located in Allentown, Pa., Cedar Crest College was selected as a “Top Regional College” and “Best Value” in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings for 2012, 2013 and 2014. The liberal arts college is committed to the education of women leaders in an increasingly global society. Founded in 1867, Cedar Crest currently enrolls approximately 1,500 students—full-time, part-time and graduate—in more than 30 fields of study. Cedar Crest also provides opportunities for non-traditional and graduate students through its co-educational School of Adult and Graduate Education (SAGE). For more information,

Media Contact:

Tracey Werner, Blabbermouth Communications