- School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award (2019)
David Ambler, a native of Hammond, Indiana, received three degrees from Indiana University: a B.S. in business administration, an M.P.A. in public administration and an Ed.D. in educational administration. He was a member of the Dean of Student's staff at IU from 1961 through 1966, working in student residence life. In 1966 he became assistant dean of men at Kent State University and served in several positions prior to being named vice president for student affairs in August 1970.
His appointment as vice president came three months after the tragedy at an anti-war protest that left four students dead and nine students seriously wounded. At that time, he was one of the youngest persons to be appointed a senior student affairs officer at a major state university. Ambler assisted in reopening the university and aided the effort to restore student, alumni and the public's confidence in the university after the tragedy.
He was appointed vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Kansas in 1977 and served in that position until his retirement in 2002. Additionally, he held the rank of adjunct associate professor in the School of Education where he worked with graduate students interested in pursuing careers in higher education.
He was active in national professional organizations and served as president of the Foundation of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. In 2000 he received the Fred Turner Award for Outstanding Service to NASPA and was designated a Distinguished Pillar of the Profession in 2016. In 1987 he received the Robert H. Shaffer Distinguished Alumni Award from IU. Upon his retirement, the University of Kansas established the David A. Ambler Leadership Development Fund, and in 2007 the Kansas Board of Regents named the new Student Recreation-Fitness Center at KU in his honor.
Ambler is married to May Kate Harris Ambler, a graduate of the School of Education.