Dr. Charles Ambrose appointed Henderson chancellor

Dr. Charles Ambrose

Arkansas State University System President Dr. Charles L. Welch announced the selection of Dr. Charles Ambrose, a nationally known visionary and innovator in higher education, as the next chancellor of Henderson State University.

Ambrose, who will begin Nov. 15, most recently served as president and CEO of KnowledgeWorks, a national foundation committed to creating the future of learning. He previously served as president of the University of Central Missouri from 2010-2018 and president of Pfeiffer University in North Carolina from 1998-2010.

“We are very excited to bring a nationally renowned educator and innovator to Henderson,” Welch said. “Dr. Ambrose is experienced in creating efficient and sustainable universities that are focused on student success. His former colleagues also note how he knows every student by name. He’s exactly the kind of experienced, visionary leader that we hoped to attract and that Henderson deserves at this critical time in its history.”

During his first year at Central Missouri, Ambrose provided energy and 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 learner-centered educational experience for students, while cutting operational costs and maximizing institutional effectiveness.

In partnership with the Lumina Foundation, Ambrose initiated The Missouri Innovation Campus that included a new model for curriculum development; competency-based applied learning; a statewide grant program; and new public/private partnerships that lower the cost of a degree, accelerate time to a degree, significantly reduce the skills gap for emerging STEM-related fields, and eliminate the use of student loan debt to finance a degree. He was the recipient of the Missouri Governor’s Economic Development Advancement Award as a result of his efforts with the Innovation Campus.

“Chuck was universally liked and admired by students, faculty and the community of Warrensburg,” former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said. “I saw first-hand how his leadership delivered results and got folks working together. Congratulations Henderson State!”

Central Missouri experienced six consecutive years of enrollment growth and records – a 27 percent total increase – while maintaining the academic profile of students during Ambrose’s tenure as president.

“Kris and I are excited to become a part of the Henderson State University campus community and the numerous people they serve in Arkansas,” Ambrose said. “We are very grateful to the members of the search committee, the leadership of the Arkansas State University System, and the campus and local communities for the welcoming hospitality and encouragement they provided throughout the search process.

 “Henderson State is uniquely defined by its meaningful history, relevant educational mission and incredible heart for students and their future success. The Reddie Spirit is very evident in its faculty, staff, alumni, and students and will serve as the critical element that will help define higher education's future. Our collective commitment to student success and meeting the challenges and specific needs of the region and state elevates our anticipation for what is possible at Henderson State. I look forward to being a part of a community that is aggressively elevating that commitment to student success and will help redefine what normal can look like for Henderson State as a member of the ASU System.” 

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology at Furman University, a Master of Arts degree in higher education administration at the University of Louisville, and a Doctor of Education in higher education administration at the University of Georgia.

Ambrose and his wife, golf professional Kristen Allen Ambrose, have two adult children, Charles Allen Ambrose and Kathryn Ambrose Livingston, and two grandchildren, Will and Caroline Ambrose.

The Henderson Chancellor Search Advisory Committee – consisting of 14 members representing faculty, staff, students, and community representatives – reviewed 47 applications for the position and interviewed three candidates. Welch expressed appreciation for its exceptional counsel and assistance during the process.

His annual salary will be $250,000, and he will live in Newberry House on campus. A formal introduction event will be scheduled when Ambrose arrives, Welch said.

Henderson State University is a comprehensive institution of higher education serving the State of Arkansas, particularly the south Arkansas region, and portions of surrounding states with fall 2021 enrollment of 3,342 students. More information about Henderson can be found at https://www.hsu.edu.