The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 Citizen of the Years is a retired Kansas University administrator who has since logged numerous hours of giving back to the community.
David Ambler, vice chancellor emeritus for student affairs at KU, worked at KU from 1977 to 2004 before retiring and continuing to work in various volunteer capacities.
He’s chaired the Douglas County United Way annual fundraising campaign, and served on the boards of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and the Douglas County Historical Society along with numerous other commitments in community and campus organizations.
Ambler — who had KU’s student recreation facility on campus named after him in 2008 — was taken aback with the news he would be receiving the chamber’s award.
“I thought the rec center was sufficient and the last honor,” Ambler said. “This was probably even more of a surprise.”
Ambler’s work and spirit exemplified the kind of dedication that the chamber was looking to recognize with its award, said Cathy Lewis, chamber vice president.
“If Dave’s name happens to come up in conversation, immediately the first thing that comes up is, ‘What a great guy,’” Lewis said.
It’s an honor, Ambler said, to be compared with previous winners of the award, which honors a lifetime of service.
“Lawrence is just replete with people who give back to this community,” he said. “It’s part of the climate and culture of Lawrence. It’s a very giving community.”
Any conversation with Ambler about his time at KU is sprinkled with the names of KU student leaders he connected with — many of whom he maintains active relationships with today, he said.
Ambler commended Kevin Yoder, a former student body president who today serves in the Kansas Legislature and is running for Congress, for his work on the recreation facility, saying the building probably should have been named for him. Yoder worked to come up with a new proposal that students overwhelmingly approved after voting down a previous funding plan.
During his time at KU, Ambler oversaw several renovations to student-related campus facilities, including residence halls, the Kansas and Burge unions, and the student health center.
“Since I’ve retired, I haven’t worried about being bored,” Ambler said. “The opportunities to be involved, you don’t even have to come looking for them. They come find you.”