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Archive for Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Little-known residence houses retired faculty

Residents ‘really take care of each other’

March 27, 2012

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Margo Gordon, a retired Kansas University professor, is a resident of Sprague Apartments, the three-story red brick building at 1400 Lilac Lane.

Margo Gordon, a retired Kansas University professor, is a resident of Sprague Apartments, the three-story red brick building at 1400 Lilac Lane.

Margo Gordon, a retired Kansas University professor of social work, said she’s found a pretty good living situation, even though she’s a mite older than most of her neighbors.

Gordon retired from KU in 1983. After her husband died, she was looking to leave her small house around 1997 and found out about Sprague Apartments through some friends and acquaintances.

Today, Gordon occupies one of nine apartment units for retired faculty that are right on campus. Her home is just up the road from several scholarship halls (Gordon said she occasionally gets invited to some of their outdoor cookouts), and bustling Jayhawk Boulevard is nearby.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s fun to watch students go up and down the hill to class.”

And she’s close to a lot of on-campus activities and downtown. Her church is nearby, too.

Sprague Apartments, the three-story red brick building at 1400 Lilac Lane, is tucked behind Danforth Chapel on the KU campus. Visible while traveling on 14th Street east of Jayhawk Boulevard, it was built in 1960, after a bequest from Elizabeth Sprague, head of KU’s home economics department from 1914 to 1941.

The gift was made with the intent of providing retired faculty members and their spouses with a place to live.

Today, it’s owned and operated by the KU Endowment Association, and Gordon said she didn’t think it was very well-known.

“I think I was here several years before I knew it existed,” she said.

Today, applicants must have had at least 15 years of service to KU to apply for the waiting list, said Monte Soukup, senior vice president for property management at KU Endowment. About 15 people are on that list now, he said.

Soukup said rents are kept low — a two-bedroom unit goes for $550 per month, including utilities — and the facility is operated at no profit.

It’s not assisted living, but residents say they enjoy living in a small community with others, he said.

“They really take care of each other,” Soukup said.

In addition to managing Sprague Apartments, Soukup also is in charge of Pioneer Cemetery on KU’s West Campus, the final resting place of many prominent KU figures.

“You’re our landlord here and ever after,” he recalled one resident telling him.

A management company maintains the property and collects rent from tenants. A graduate student typically occupies a basement apartment and receives a discounted rent in exchange for helping the residents with small tasks such as changing hard-to-reach light bulbs and shoveling snow from walkways.

This semester, that’s Ryan Callihan, a master’s student studying geography. He said he just kind of fell into the living situation, after a friend recommended he live there. He worked in a retirement home in high school, so the environment is not totally foreign to him.

He enjoys telling his friends about the place and mentioning that he lives with a bunch of retired faculty members.

“The only people who know what Sprague Apartments is are the ones who try and park in the parking lot and get run off,” he said.

He enjoys his neighbors’ company, many of whom encourage him (sometimes sternly, he said) to stay focused and finish his thesis.

“There’s lots of wisdom to be had just talking with them,” he said.

Comments

Scott Morgan 2 years, 5 months ago

What about the retired dime store employee who walked to work for 30 years?

I would be much more comfortable hearing what they pay for rent and such.

Of course nothing. Yet if you work for the government, bada bing. Another example of government benefits which were never ever ever meant to make a public servants job some sort of lifetime reward.

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Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

Care to explain how a bequest from someone to build this residence and maintenance from an organization that is funded by donations is an example of a government benefit?

I swear, some people are just too blinded by their own ideology and ignorance.

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christy kennedy 2 years, 5 months ago

Wow. Wissmo, What are you so angry about? The amount of rent is right in the story:

" . . . Soukup said rents are kept low — a two-bedroom unit goes for $550 per month, including utilities — and the facility is operated at no profit. . . . A management company maintains the property and collects rent from tenants. A graduate student typically occupies a basement apartment and receives a discounted rent in exchange for helping the residents with small tasks such as changing hard-to-reach light bulbs and shoveling snow from walkways.

And it was built with a bequest " . . . with the intent of providing retired faculty members and their spouses with a place to live.:"

It's lovely from the outside and sounds very nice for the people living there.

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Douglas Yetman 2 years, 5 months ago

Well said CK. WISSMO, what is it about this forum makes you feel that it is a place to rant and spout such unnecessary negativity? The residents are people who gave at least 15 years of their lives to the KU and likely don't have a whole lot of housing options. Where is the love?

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Bob Forer 2 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps he's simply jealous because nobody ever bequeathed anything for his use, benefit or enjoyment.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 5 months ago

Not jealous in any shape or form. I would find this style of living awful. My problem with this and other public servant bennies is simply the fact somebody is funding them. In most cases that somebody is moi et vous.

Don't believe for a second tax money is not involved in some way here.

Bet the former instructor is top notch, but her bennies were way way out of line in relation to others in the first place. I'd have no problem if part of her compensation was a retirement home plan. Or, she and others paid the freight for this type of housing. Did she not receive a special retirement plan from even the rest of Kansas public employees.

All my life I've seen hardworking folks, many blue-collar work till they drop without the little public servant goodies. Been called many bad names for being conservative, but wonder about the little people out there. Any super deals for retired custodians out there?

I have no problem voicing displeasure over government employees out of control benefit and salary compensation. We tax payers pay for it.

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Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

Care to explain how a bequest from someone to build this residence and maintenance from an organization that is funded by donations is an example of a government benefit?

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 5 months ago

Katara, who mows the lawn?

I was going to post this without the obvious of course KU. Who fixes, who cleans the common area, who who who...........it is you if you pay taxes.

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Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

"A management company maintains the property and collects rent from tenants. A graduate student typically occupies a basement apartment and receives a discounted rent in exchange for helping the residents with small tasks such as changing hard-to-reach light bulbs and shoveling snow from walkways."

A graduate student gets a break on his rent in return for general maintenance.

Is it that difficult for you to read the article instead of jumping to bizarre conclusions?

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Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

And in addition to the graduate student, there is a management company to maintain the property. It is not KU maintaining any part of this residence.

The management company is paid by the KU Endowment association which is funded by private donations.

Again, care to explain how this is an example of a government benefit?

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maudeandcecil 2 years, 5 months ago

I have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Gordon and know that she is a smart, tireless, amazing advocate for the rights of all older adults. If you follow the link below, you'll find her bio in the KU Women's Hall of Fame. However, in that bio, it does not mention that Ms. Gordon's early history includes work in the settlement houses in St. Louis. Perhaps this is where she came to follow this consummate code of ethics and unwavering moral compass; Lawrence is lucky to have her.

http://www.etwrc.ku.edu/halloffame/gordon_margo.shtml

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 5 months ago

I bet Ms Gordon is a great person, instructor, and human being. On the other hand there are many others who fall into this category. Why should some get the gravy, the others struggle to the bitter end.

When I hear about Ms Gordon I think of the poor dime store employee widow who went into retirement with terror instead of her golden years.

My of my libs, this should be right up your alley.

When folks really read, sit back and actually read the bennies KU teaching/hangers on receive they always, and I do mean always state.............I didn't know that who pays for this?

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Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

No taxpayer is paying for this residence for retired faculty. Is it that difficult for you to accept or are you too blinded by your ideology?

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