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Charles Ambrose, Candidate For UM President Meets With Campus

Charles "Chuck" Ambrose
Charles "Chuck" Ambrose

The last of four finalists in the University of Montana search for a new president addressed the school in an open forum today. Charles "Chuck" Ambrose, currently the president of the University of Central Missouri (UCM), took questions about student debt, socially conscious investments, campus sexual assault, and more.
Ambrose has been the UCM president since 2010. In that time, according to his resume, he’s focused on increasing student access and diversity and saw a 27 percent increase in enrollment.

At the forum this afternoon, Ambrose referred to the way that higher education is perceived by an unsatisfied public.

"The public value proposition for higher education is changing, and it's not changing in a good way," Ambrose said. "The general perception of people is that college costs too much, it takes too long to get your degree, when I get my degree I have a skills gap that makes it hard for me to translate that degree to the investment that I've put in, and then with us nearing $1.5 trillion in accumulated student loan debt, I've certainly had to borrow too much to pay for college."

Ambrose described the importance of developing a vision for UM that would act as a "north star" in planning for the university's future. He described his experience in implementing socially conscious investing at UCM and his commitment to transparency. He also expressed empathy for Missoula as the focus of campus sexual assault narratives in past years, saying that the Jon Krakauer book "Missoula" could have been titled "Warrensburg" after UCM's location too, and that support for sexual assault survivors was a responsibility that universities must not ignore.

The final question, why does Chuck Ambrose want to be UM's next president, gave him a chance to praise Missoula, which he and his wife Kris are visiting for the first time, and UM's role as a public institution.

"I see your mission and your place and your service to the state of Montana as being a real attraction for me to take cumulative experiences and perhaps do something more," Ambrose said.

Montana’s Board of Regents is expected to make a final decision on the presidential selection later this fall.

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