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Armbrister opens term as 14th president of JCSU with warm address

Charlotte, N.C./Jan. 3, 2018 – Today, Dr. Clarence D. Armbrister officially began tenure as the 14th president of Johnson C. Smith University, after an extensive executive search led by the Johnson C. Smith University Presidential Search Committee and Issacson, Miller, an executive search firm.

Armbrister addressed an audience of 200 faculty and staff in the New Science Center auditorium and laid out a strategic agenda for leading the university. His focus: the “Four R’s” of Resources, Recruitment, Retention and Rigor, which are “inextricably linked” to the University’s success.

“I am supremely confident in our university’s future,” Armbrister said. “Demonstrating JCSU is a good investment for social and philanthropic investors will significantly expand the resources needed to ensure our students meet their educational goals.”

Other components of his plan include increasing recruitment of students from nontraditional markets, invigorating retention through the Sit Lux and Biddle programs, continuing to modernize facilities and boosting the rigor of student research opportunities.

Prior to JCSU, Armbrister served as president of Girard College, an independent college preparatory five-day boarding school in the Philadelphia region. Armbrister has extensive experience at all levels of education, including as managing director for the School District of Philadelphia, which at that time was the fourth largest school district in the United States, and senior administrative positions at Johns Hopkins University. At Temple University, he served as senior vice president for administration before being promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer.

In addition to his background in education, Armbrister has held executive positions in law, government and finance: city treasurer for the City of Philadelphia; chief of staff for former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter; and as an investment banker at UBS PaineWebber, Inc., where he served as head of the Municipal Securities Group education practice, overseeing nationwide efforts in underwriting transactions for issuers in the K-12 public education market.

A native of Miami, Armbrister received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

He was joined by his wife, Denise, who is senior vice president of Wells Fargo Corporation and executive director of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and the Wells Fargo Regional Community Development Corporation. In her, JCSU has a First Lady for the first time in 25 years.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected as the 14th president of Johnson C. Smith University, which throughout its 150-year history has improved the lives of its students and contributed to the communities it serves,” Armbrister said.

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