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National Higher Education Association Taps MC’s Student Experience Leader for ACE Fellowship

Jonathan Ambrose, associate vice president for the student experience and dean of students, is the first ACE Fellow from Mississippi College.
Jonathan Ambrose, associate vice president for the student experience and dean of students, is the first ACE Fellow from Mississippi College.

The major coordinating organization for the nation’s higher education institutions has selected the head of the student experience at Mississippi College to participate in an exclusive fellowship program to enhance his executive skills and strengthen the University’s leadership.

The American Council on Education has named Jonathan Ambrose, associate vice president for the student experience and dean of students at MC, as an ACE Fellow for the academic year 2023-24. Ambrose is the only representative from Mississippi – and the first from Mississippi College – to receive the honor this year.

Ambrose will join a cohort of 36 ACE Fellows in the program, which prepares faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through a distinctive and intensive cohort-based mentorship model. More than 80 percent of the 2,500 fellows who have participated in the program have gone on to serve as chief executive officers, chief academic officers, other cabinet-level positions, and deans.

“Being selected as a part of the 2023-24 cohort for the American Council on Education Fellows Program is extremely humbling, and becoming the first ACE Fellow from Mississippi College is exhilarating,” Ambrose said. “The rich tradition and history of this program, along with the transformative experience of engaging with a university president while developing the leadership skills to navigate and lead in the future, is thrilling.

“This is truly an honor, and I am excited to bring best practices to Mississippi College from this remarkable experience to serve our students better and help shape the future of the University.”

Ambrose oversees a variety of student affairs functions at MC, including Residence Life, Student Engagement, the Student Government Association, Christian Life and Leadership, and Community Services. He earned his B.A. in criminal justice (jurisprudence) at Saint Peters University, Jersey City, New Jersey, where he excelled in football and was named to the Saint Peters University Athletics Hall of Fame. He obtained his M.A. in criminal justice from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and his Ph.D. in urban higher education from Jackson State University.

Ambrose began his higher education career in 2006 at Southeastern Louisiana University before joining MC in 2014 as associate dean of students. He became assistant vice president for student affairs in 2016. In 2017, he developed the Lee and Rhoda Royce Servant Leadership Minor, one of the first in the country at the time.

Since being named associate vice president for the student experience and dean of students in 2019, Ambrose has led the University’s efforts to fight student food insecurities by creating the Mississippi College Food Pantry, led student philanthropic activities, coordinated the annual MC Dance Marathon, which has raised more than $400,000 for Children’s of Mississippi; created a coalition with the Mississippi Army National Guard to negotiate a special military rate for MC students serving in the armed forces; and successfully guided the University through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambrose teaches in the Servant Leadership minor and the Higher Education Administration Program at MC. He chairs numerous University committees and serves on on-site and off-site committees with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Reaffirmation Committees. He attends Pinelake Church and serves as a facilitator for Leadership Clinton and as a board member for Brilla Soccer Ministries.

Ted Mitchell, ACE president, said he is pleased to welcome Ambrose into a fellowship program with a proven track record of success in developing “agile” leaders.

“It fuels the expansion of a talented and diverse higher education leadership pipeline,” Mitchell said. “ACE Fellows engage in unique learning experiences before returning to their home campuses armed with a fresh outlook and distinct skillset.

“I am excited to see all that this class accomplishes.”

The program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single fellowship.

“This program is providing me with one of the most intensive yet enriching experiences,” Ambrose said. “I’ll have the opportunity to visit a host institution and immerse myself in its culture, shadow its president and other senior leaders, and observe some of its best practices that can be utilized at MC upon completion of the program.

“We will also meet as a cohort three times during the year. The opportunity to network, not only with my cohort but with fellows from past years, is invaluable.”

MC President Blake Thompson is proud of Ambrose for pursuing the opportunity.

“When Jonathan approached me about leadership development, I thought of the ACE Fellows Program. I was aware of the program – and knew ACE Fellows – when I was at Ohio State,” said Thompson. “I am confident he will represent our institution well during this experience. I hope he is the first of many.”

The American Council on Education is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. ACE represents more than 1,700 college and university presidents and related associations.