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Archive for Tuesday, July 31, 2007

City’s No. 2 heads for KU

Assistant city manager takes job in athletics department

July 31, 2007

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City Hall's No. 2 administrator is leaving to take a job with the Kansas University athletic department.

Debbie Van Saun, assistant city manager since 2000, will become associate athletics director and senior women's administrator at KU.

"It just seemed like a good fit," said Van Saun, who has worked for City Hall more than 28 years. "Certainly a challenging future for me, by leaving the city of Lawrence and going to a different organization, but there's several parallels, I think."

Her departure caps nearly two years of turnover at the highest ranks of Lawrence city government.

Planning Director Linda Finger resigned under pressure in late 2005 after several developments were delayed because officials were uncertain the city's sewer system could handle projected growth. That same discontent helped sweep longtime City Manager Mike Wildgen out of office in May 2006; he was replaced by Dave Corliss, who had previously served alongside Van Saun as Wildgen's other assistant.

But Van Saun was emphatic that the churn didn't contribute to her decision to leave City Hall.

"No," she said. "This is an opportunity for me that is certainly something I wasn't expecting."

Assistant City Manager headed to KU

A long-time leader at Lawrence City Hall is leaving for a job with the KU Athletics Department. Assistant City Manager Debbie van Saun will make the move to Associate Athletics Director and Senior Women's Administrator. Enlarge video

That opportunity comes with a raise. Van Saun was making $112,273 in her city job; she'll make $150,000 in the new post - although she said Monday she hasn't worked out a timeline for departure.

Commissioner Mike Dever said the city would miss Van Saun's experience.

"It's a pretty substantial loss for the city," he said, adding: "When people have been there a long time, it's implicit they know what they're doing."

In her new job, Van Saun will monitor KU's efforts to comply with Title IX and NCAA gender equity rules, prepare financial aid budget reports and oversee other NCAA governance issues.

She has longtime connections to KU sports; her husband, Paul, was a member of KU's 1973 Liberty Bowl football team.

"Debbie has shown outstanding management and leadership qualities during her many years in city government," KU athletic director Lew Perkins said in a press release. "Those skills, plus her obviously strong organizational skills, will serve as a tremendous asset to the University of Kansas."

Van Saun had served as the lone assistant city manager since Corliss' promotion. She said Monday that it would be "difficult" for City Hall to function, long-term, with only one assistant.

Corliss was out of town and unavailable to comment on plans to replace Van Saun. His office distributed a statement saying that he regretted her resignation, but congratulated her on the new job.

- Sports columnist Chuck Woodling contributed information to this story.

Comments

hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 8 months ago

And why can't city hall function with one assistant? Maybe this is a golden opportunity to revamp the whole staff at city hall.

The sad thing is that one would think that after 28 years of working, MsVan Saun has made enough money and could do volunteer work. After all, it isn't like she was making 25,000 a year before and still needs money.

I don't care how good she was or might still be, this is a patronage job and yet another example of what is wrong in Lawrence.

The violin comes out and the fiddler will be on the roof playing for the demise of WRAP hopefully and all the parents who complain that they have to buy school supplies while they are talking on their cell phones and eating out. There seems to be no shortage of money.

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Kontum1972 6 years, 8 months ago

nice raise...wouldn't ya all say? den ders da good seats...oh boy...!

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Noweigh 6 years, 8 months ago

No one works harder than Ms. Van Saun. She has endured good and bad city commissions and always did the best she could to make this city a better place to live. Congrats to her on her new position. Too bad for Lawrence but great for KU.

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gontek 6 years, 8 months ago

Congratulations Debbie on the exciting new position.

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TheRealDecider 6 years, 8 months ago

Congratulations Debbie and Paul on your new and improved season tickets!

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