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Recreation center named in honor of David A. Ambler

Amanda Kistner/University Relations

The Student Recreation Fitness Center was officially dedicated and renamed the David A. Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center Oct. 24. Ambler, vice chancellor emeritus for student affairs, was at KU from 1977 to 2002, and was instrumental in the construction of the center. Pictured cutting a ribbon at the ceremony are, from left, Chancellor Robert Hemenway, Ambler, Kevin Yoder, former student body president; Mary Chappell, director, recreation services; Andy Knopp, former student body president and Big Jay.

A building devoted to the well-being of KU students has been named for a man who devoted his career to the same.

A ceremony was held Oct. 24 to dedicate the David A. Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center.

Ambler, vice chancellor emeritus for student affairs, worked at KU from 1977 to 2002.

A lasting gift

The senior class of 2008 presented a brick inlay outside the David A. Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center as its class gift. Watch a time-lapse video of the installation.

"Dr. Ambler is one of those people that if you meet him, you just know something good's going to happen," said Mary Chappell, director of Recreation Services. "He's a very good listener, and he keeps in touch with every student leader since he was here."

During his time at KU, Ambler helped oversee large student-initiated ventures on campus such as campus-safety projects, the relocation of the Hilltop Child Development Center and Student Senate's commitment of funds for remodeling the Kansas Union. He worked closely with Kevin Yoder, student body president from 1998 to 1999, to gain student support for the construction of the Student Recreation Fitness Center, which Ambler affectionately refers to as the "real shining light on the hill."

"We had lost the first election for the recreation center even though the university really needed it," Ambler said. "Kevin Yoder wanted this project to pass so the student group sold the idea on campus, downsized it and came up with the stair-stepping fee for students."

Ambler thinks the creative vision Yoder articulated was the prime reason the referendum passed, as Yoder chose the location and implemented a student payment system that would decrease student fees for individuals who would not be able to use the facility during their college careers. Ambler dedicated much of his career to the belief that with all student leadership, there must be an administrator who is willing to listen and stand up for their dreams.

"I've always believed students are citizens of the university, just like any of us," Ambler said. "I tried to convey this message to students and student leaders. They have a right to be heard and make proposals and it was my job to make sure they had access to present ideas to the university."

Several students who played an integral role in establishing the recreation center and the expansion attended the dedication. "Students are the primary target," Chappell said. "This is the Student Recreation Fitness Center. It represents all Jayhawks - those here now and those who came before them."

In addition to the building dedication, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expansion at the recreation center.

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