Charles Ambrose is out as chancellor of Henderson State University, stepping down after less than two years on the job. Ambrose resigned voluntarily, according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which cited the resignation letter he sent to Arkansas State University system officials.
Henderson State officially entered the Arkansas State system in early 2021.
Ambrose joined Henderson State in November 2021 amid significant financial challenges. The university declared financial exigency in early 2022, and Ambrose oversaw campuswide furloughs followed by deep job and program cuts, prompting some professors to quit in protest and a no-confidence vote from the Faculty Senate, which also recommended firing Ambrose.
Ambrose cast the conflict in positive terms in his resignation letter to faculty and staff.
“Henderson has weathered the storm with a depth of change at a speed that is unparalleled in higher education. At a time when the value of college is being questioned by students and their families across higher education, Henderson has faced our challenges head on by restructuring the university to provide a more sustainable model focused on student success. During the past two years, we have confronted our financial and structural challenges, utilized transparent data to inform decision-making, and focused on access and affordability for students while reallocating resources to offer degrees that best align to community and future workforce needs,” Ambrose wrote in a July 31 email announcing his resignation, which will become effective Sept. 15.
Ambrose is the latest in a succession of college leaders to abruptly depart their positions, including the presidents of Stanford University, Texas A&M University, Seton Hall University, Thomas Jefferson University and Berklee College of Music, who all resigned in recent weeks. Four of those presidents, like Ambrose, had been on the job for less than five years before stepping down, reinforcing findings from the latest American College President Study from the American Council on Education that indicates presidential terms are shrinking amid increasing challenges in higher education.