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Archive for Saturday, August 13, 1994

KU EDITION

August 13, 1994

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David Ambler just smiles when asked about his role at Kansas University.

His answer is simple:

"The Office of Student Affairs is in charge of all services for students outside the formal instructional program," he said.

Translated, that means that among other duties, KU's vice chancellor of student affairs spends his days overseeing the offices of admissions, student helath services, the Kansas Unions, registration, financial aid, housing, minority affairs, the student assistance center and the women's resource center -- just to name a few.

In addition, he's also in charge of any student emergencies like riots, campuswide celebrations or protests.

When asked if the job keeps him busy, Ambler just grinned.

Born the son of a factory worker and a school secretary, the 57-year-old Hammond, Ind., native graduated from Indiana University with no idea of what he wanted to do.

"I was a good example of lack of career planning," he said with a wry smile.

So, he worked for a year on his master's degree in political science before going into the Army through the ROTC program where he "got his head screwed on."

He later earned a doctorate in education, and accepted a position as the assistant dean of men at Kent State University where he quickly went through a series of title changes that finally ended with vice president.

"I came into college expecting I was going to go into business," Ambler said. "If you said then 'someday you'll be vice president of a university, I would have laughed at you.'"

It was during his tenure at Kent State that antiwar protests resulted in the shooting deaths of four students.

"The place was in turmoil all the time," Ambler said.

Soon after, he came to KU -- a move he says was good from both him and his family.

"I'd describe KU as one of the best public universities in the United States from an undergraduate educational experience," he said. "I truly believe that."

He pointed to several reasons for that belief.

"Part of it is an infectious spirit in the social atmosphere of this place," he said. "Also, people fall in love with the campus and the Jayhawk."

To illustrate his point, Ambler tells the story of a 70-year-old woman who attended KU in the 1940s, was unable to complete her degree, but came back recently and graduated in May 1992.

Ambler's current pet project is a university multicultural center -- a project for which he has high hopes.

"I see it as a center that will serve as a focal point to help all of us increase our sensitivity," Ambler said. "I see it as a place where we springboard to the rest of the campus."

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