CIC Elects New Board Members

1/25/2021 — Washington, DC

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The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) announces the election of seven new members to its Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors oversees the work of CIC, a national association of independent colleges and universities dedicated to supporting college and university leadership; advancing institutional excellence; and enhancing public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society.

“The wisdom and dedication of the members of the Board of Directors ensure that CIC continues to address the issues of greatest importance to its member colleges and universities,” said CIC president Richard Ekman. “We are grateful to these busy and distinguished individuals for their generous service to independent higher education through CIC’s Board of Directors.” Newly elected to the CIC Board of Directors are seven distinguished leaders, all presidents of member colleges and universities.

Carmen Twillie Ambar
Ambar became president of Oberlin College (OH) and the first African American leader in the college’s history in 2017. She previously served as president of Cedar Crest College. Ambar earned a BS in foreign service at Georgetown University and is a graduate of both the Columbia Law School and Princeton University, where she received an MA in public affairs. President Ambar was elected to serve a term of three years.

John C. Knapp
Knapp has served as president of Washington & Jefferson College (PA) since 2017. He formerly served as president of Hope College. Knapp earned a PhD in theology and religious studies at the University of Wales, United Kingdom, an MA in theological studies at Columbia Theological Seminary, and a BS in urban life with a concentration in communication at Georgia State University. President Knapp was elected to serve a term of three years.

Kathleen M. Murray
Murray has served as president of Whitman College (WA) since 2015. Murray received her bachelor of music degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, master of music in piano performance from Bowling Green State University, and her doctor of music in piano performance and pedagogy from Northwestern University. President Murray was elected to serve a term of two years.

Mary Eileen O'Brien, OP
Sr. Mary Eileen was appointed as president of Dominican College (NY) initially in 1979 and is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt. She has also served as president of the Sisters of Saint Dominic. Sr. Mary Eileen earned a doctorate degree in educational administration and supervision from Fordham University, master’s degrees from both Teachers College of Columbia University and Manhattan College, and bachelor of arts degree in English from Dominican College. President O’Brien was elected to serve a term of three years.

Charles W. Pollard
Pollard has been the president of John Brown University (AR) since July 2004. Pollard received his undergraduate degree in English from Wheaton College, a law degree from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in English from Oxford University, and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia. President Pollard was elected to serve a term of three years.

Lyle D. Roelofs
Roelofs began his tenure as Berea College’s (KY) president in 2012. He is a graduate of Calvin College with a BS with honors in physics and mathematics, and earned his MS and PhD degrees, both in physics, at the University of Maryland. President Roelofs was elected to serve a term of three years.

Roderick L. Smothers
Smothers began his tenure as president of Philander Smith College (AR) in January 2015. Smothers earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in higher education administration, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership, research and counseling, all from Louisiana State University. Additionally, he has served as a U.S. Air Force reservist with active-duty service during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. President Smothers was elected to serve a term of three years.

​The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of more than 760 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher education affiliates, that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of independent higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on services to leaders of independent colleges and universities and state-based councils. CIC offers conferences, seminars, publications, and other programs and services that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, student outcomes, and institutional visibility. It conducts the largest annual conferences of college and university presidents and of chief academic officers in the United States. Founded in 1956, CIC is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.