Former UCM President Charles Ambrose returned to the university Monday to accept the James C. Kirkpatrick Excellence in Governance award given by the Student Government Association.
This annual award is presented to an individual who promotes the public interest, practices good governmental procedures and has shown loyalty to the university. Ambrose left UCM August 2018 to become the CEO and president of KnowledgeWorks in Cincinnati, Ohio. Past recipients include, Jason Kander, Jay Nixon, Emanuel Cleaver II and more.
Courtney Abt, past president of Student Government Association, said the nomination comes from the student body members.
Abt said this year they had three candidates and Ambrose stood out.
“Dr. Ambrose had an overwhelming amount of support, considering he had just left the school but he had done so much for students here and also with the legislature,” Abt said.
She said work with the legislature is a big component of the award.
“It’s ‘excellence in governance,’ so we normally try to pick somebody who is involved in not only the legislature but higher education and involvement with students,” Abt said.
Ambrose said it’s different to be back and accepting the award because he’d been on the other side presenting it for eight years.
“The significance that Jimmy Kirkpatrick had to Warrensburg and the state of Missouri,” Ambrose said, “people would come back, especially public servants, mainly in state government or surrounding state government, out of respect to him.”
Ambrose also mentioned his and his wife’s appreciation to Doris Kirkpatrick.
“Doris Kirkpatrick was truly the best friend of a college president,” Ambrose said smiling. “She took Kris and I in when we first came and there was nothing you could do that she wouldn’t say something supportive.”
Cole Fine, president of SGA, said Ambrose has served the community more than people see.
“There’s more than just the tangible things he’s left behind,” Fine said. “Whether that’s in the form of university policies or other things that he’s been able to achieve on campus, I think it affects the day-to-day life of every student here.”
Ambrose said it was good to be able to come back to Warrensburg after some time has passed.
“It gives me a chance to come back and say thank you to some people that have meant a lot to me when I was here,” he said.
During Ambrose’s speech, he noted that there were students in the audience who could potentially receive this award years from now. Even for students who don’t receive recognition, he said to serve with the greater good in mind.
“I think, govern out of a sense of selflessness,” he said. “Anytime it’s not for the common good, as we’re experiencing in culture and society right now, good things don’t happen.”
He said he’s confident in emerging leadership throughout campus organizations and encourages students to keep getting involved.
Ambrose said with KnowledgeWorks, they are heavily focused on the future of learning.
“In my new role, we think a lot about the future, and there’s some pressures on the future that makes it really exciting for students who are getting ready to graduate but it also presents, maybe, some challenges that you’re not totally in control of,” Ambrose said. “We’ve got to work to get sort of a safeguard for efficacy for where the world is going, especially in learning, because otherwise it’s just going to pull us further apart.”