Topeka — A top level position at Kansas University Medical Center that was created several years ago but never filled has been given to a Republican state senator who has been a frequent lightning rod for criticism from GOP conservatives.
Sen. David Adkins, R-Leawood, was named Wednesday vice chancellor for external affairs. The position pays $115,000 per year, according to Dr. Donald Hagen, executive vice chancellor at the Med Center.
Adkins, 43, had earlier announced that he would not run for re-election to the Senate but planned to keep his legislative seat until his term expires in January.
"I feel honored to have this opportunity to work on behalf of the Medical Center," Adkins said. "KUMC is a great asset to the state, one that has an impact on health and people's lives throughout Kansas."
Hagen said the appointment of Adkins "was an absolute fit for us." Adkins' long relationship with Kansas University and his legislative experience made him perfectly suited for the job, Hagen said.
In his new job, Adkins will oversee alumni and community relations, and will report to Hagen. Adkins also will work closely with staff in government relations and marketing.
Adkins, a former student body president at KU, also received his law degree from the university. As an alumnus, he has remained close to the school, raising funds for scholarships, while serving in the Legislature for nearly 12 years, first as a House member and then in the Senate.
In 2002, he unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for attorney general, losing to now Atty. Gen. Phill Kline.
In 2003, Adkins crossed swords with conservatives when he staunchly defended KU professor Dennis Dailey after conservatives charged the educator made inappropriate remarks in a human sexuality class. KU investigated the issue and found there was no basis to the charges leveled against Dailey.
This year, Adkins angered conservatives when he helped scuttle a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriages. Kansas law already prohibits same-sex marriages, but conservatives wanted a ban placed in the state constitution.
During a televised debate with the Rev. Terry Fox of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Adkins called Fox and several other ministers the "ayatollahs of Wichita."
Through a spokeswoman, Fox said he was "extremely glad KU has him and not the Senate." Fox added that he "was not surprised that KU would hire someone that is gay-friendly."
John Altevogt, a conservative advocate from Kansas City, Kan., said Adkins' hiring was outrageous.
"Clearly with Adkins' hiring any budgetary crisis in higher education is over, and it's now time to figure out just how much lard this institutional whale is carrying," Altevogt said.
Hagen said he didn't believe Adkins' past political battles would hinder his effectiveness. "He really recognizes the value of our Medical Center. The greater benefit of the institution is to have someone who has the knowledge that David does and advocates our story," Hagen said.
|David Adkins bettered his economic outlook with his appointment as Kansas University Medical Center's vice chancellor for external affairs.Adkins, who won't seek re-election the Kansas Senate, was an unsuccessful candidate in 2002 for Kansas attorney general.The pay for the three positions:KU -- $115,000A.G. -- $86,546Lawmaker -- $20,138**Includes per diem and out-of-session allowance.|