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UM Presidential Finalist: Charles Ambrose

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The four finalists for president of UM are in the middle of their on-campus interviews.

We are profiling each one for you.

Now, the last of the four candidates takes the stage.

They all come with unique qualifications.

Mirta Martin, an advisor to former Mexican president Vicente Fox; Andrew Feinstein, the provost at San Jose State University; Seth Bodnar, the chief digital officer at General Electric Transportation; And Charles Ambrose, who we profile now.

Currently he's the president of the University of Central Missouri,

UCM is a similar size to UM, 14,000 students and 486 faculty.

He received his bachelors at Furman University, his masters at University of Louisville, and his doctorate at the University of Georgia.

He’s past president at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, and vice president at Carson-Newman University in Tennessee.

At UCM there has been six consecutive years of enrollment growth during his term.

He also received an award from the governor of Missouri for economic development advancement.

He says he would be very excited to lead UM.

"I’ve got a lot of gas left in the tank," says Ambrose.

Ambrose says one of the biggest challenges at UM will be managing its budget shortfalls, but he's already been to that dance at his previous universities, and was recognized by President Obama for his innovative programs.

"Probably the most humbling experience I’ve had as a college president," says Ambrose. “Is to have the President of the United States call out a program that you've created and be able to explain it to the world better than you can.  So that was pretty cool."

Ambrose took questions today at an on-campus forum, with a lot of focus on increasing enrollment, something he says would cost money, but would be money well-spent.

"Whether that be in marketing branding admissions or financial aid, you have to have the resources in place to grow.  And that's an investment," says Ambrose.

Many of the questions were quite direct.

"Why do you want the job?" asked one community member.

We asked the same question.

"When you are a flagship," says Ambrose. “Your responsibility to help the state accomplish its goals - - to be part of the economic, social, educational driver for all of Montana - - to me gives vibrancy to this role and a responsibility that I would get very excited about."

And Ambrose sees the responsibility to the students is three-fold: Open the opportunity to go to UM; assist students financially; and graduate prepared to contribute.  He says that helps the students as well as the community.

"So, that means when they come out in the local economy, they're more ready to buy a home, contribute, have less encumbrance on them to be productive, and then the overall state benefits," says Ambrose."

So, what happens next?

The search committee meets Wednesday to discuss all four candidates.

It will write a report and send it to the board of regents, who are expected to make an offer within the next two weeks.

You can see profiles on all four candidates our website.

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