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Interim President Named
Posted 06/08/2012 11:26AM



Former City Chief of Staff and Temple University Administrator will succeed Autumn Graves

June 8, 2012

The Board of City Trusts announced today that it has selected Clarence D. Armbrister, the highly-regarded former mayoral chief of staff and veteran educational administrator, to serve as President of Girard College, the historic boarding school in North Philadelphia that provides a free education for children from single-parent homes.

Armbrister, 55, the former Chief Operating Officer at Temple University and Managing Director of the Philadelphia School District, will take the reins at Girard as it maps a strategy to deal with financial and operational challenges that have buffeted the institution in the wake of the economic recession. He will be the 17th President in Girard’s 164-year history, and his two-year term will begin on July 1. He succeeds Autumn Graves, who stepped down effective June 30 after serving for three years.

“Clay Armbrister is uniquely qualified to be President of Girard at this critical period in the school’s history, and we are delighted that he has agreed to serve,” said Ronald Donatucci, President of the Board of City Trusts. “He is a skilled and experienced educational administrator who can provide the leadership that Girard needs as it charts a course to assure the long-term future of the school.”

Armbrister, who recently returned to Philadelphia from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he served as Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, is best-known as the former Chief of Staff to Mayor Michael A. Nutter, where he led the daily operations of the Administration and its 23,000 public employees.

“Clay Armbrister is a friend, but first and foremost he's a consummate professional and a fantastic public servant. He is an outstanding selection to lead this historic institution that means so much to so many in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter, who also serves as a member of the Board of City Trusts and the Girard College Board of Managers, which oversees the operation of the school. “I have the utmost confidence in his leadership and his ability to build consensus for the difficult choices that Girard will face in the months ahead.”

Founded by Stephen Girard, a pre-eminent early American patriot, businessman and philanthropist, Girard College is a private boarding school that provides free education, room and board for 465 students in Grades 1-12 from single parent families. Since 1848, more than 21,000 Girard students have received full scholarships and have lived safely on its 43-acre campus. Today, Girard is a prep school with virtually 100 percent of its graduates going on to college or university.

Armbrister was selected from a field of more than a dozen candidates presented to a selection committee comprised of members from both the Board of City Trusts and the Board of Managers. A national search will be conducted to select a permanent successor.

“We were fortunate to select from among several highly-qualified candidates, but in the end it was clear that Clay Armbrister possesses a unique set of skills that made him the unanimous choice of the committee,” said Peter Shoemaker, a Girard alumnus from the Class of 1960 who chairs the Board of Managers. “We look forward to working with him in the months ahead.”

Prior to his service at Johns Hopkins last year, Armbrister served as mayoral Chief of Staff from 2008 to 2011. Before that, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Temple University, where he was responsible for the daily operations and overall management of the university’s 39,000 students and its 7,500 employees, and where he oversaw more than $500 million worth of new construction on campus.

From 1996 to 1998, Armbrister was Managing Director of the School District of Philadelphia, where he led the daily operations of the fourth-largest public school system in the nation. A lawyer by training, Armbrister is the former Philadelphia City Treasurer (1994 to 1996) who also served as a partner in the Public Finance Department at the Saul Ewing law firm, and as a Director and First Vice President at UBS PaineWebber, Inc.

A native of Florida, Armbrister is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School. A Director and former President of the National Adoption Center and the father of five children, two of whom still live at home, Armbrister and his wife Denise, a former member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, live in the Overbrook Farms section of Philadelphia.

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