Goessel native Duane Goossen chosen as outstanding alumnus

The awards committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association has named Duane Goossen, Topeka, as the winner of the 2008 Outstanding Alumnus Award.

Goossen, a Republican, is current Kansas Secretary of Administration and State Budget Director in the administration of Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Goossen graduated from Bethel with a BA in 1978 and earned a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in public management from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, in 1998.

From 1978-96, Goossen was president and owner of Goossen Construction Inc. in Goessel. He served seven consecutive terms as a Kansas State Representative for District 70 from 1983-97. During that time, he chaired the House Education Committee and Appropriations Sub-Committee.

As State Budget Director, starting during the administration of Governor Bill Graves in 1998 and continuing to the present, Goossen has directed a 20-person office. Since 2004, Goossen has led and coordinated the Kansas Department of Administration, an 800-employee cabinet agency responsible for providing state government central services in the areas of budgeting and accounting, personnel, facilities management, purchasing and information technology.

"Kansas [today] is much better off thanks to the efforts of one humble, hard-working man from Marion County who decided to run for office 24 years ago," wrote Governor Sebelius in a letter praising Goossen's selection as Outstanding Alumnus. "I had the honor and privilege of serving with Duane Goossen in the legislature and have held the deepest respect for him since. When I was elected governor, there was no doubt in my mind that Duane should continue on as State Budget Director.

"His combination of institutional knowledge and flexibility made him the ideal candidate to balance the books, and the demands of elected officials, agency heads and the public," she continued. "My first years in office, we faced inherited looming deficits, but with Duane's leadership, we were able to find $1 billion in efficiencies throughout state government, increase revenue through economic incentives and present to the legislature a truly balanced budget.

"It soon became clear that Duane could not only handle a $12 billion budget with aplomb, but also had the experience and capabilities that qualified him to run the entire Department of Administration as well. His patience, thoughtfulness, and intelligence are ideal characteristics [for] any [cabinet] secretary. I applaud the [Alumni] Committee for its good judgment in choosing Duane Goossen to be the recipient of [this] award. He is one who should truly make your college proud and has come so far since his days as a wide-eyed 28-year-old serving in the legislature."

Goossen was president of the National Association of State Budget Officers, 2005-06. His current board duties include being a member of the Bethel College Committee for the Future of the College (since 2006), a member of the Kansas Health Policy Authority (2006), a member of the Governor's Council on Homeland Security (2005), and chair of the Kansas Health Care Commission (2004). He also is an active participant in the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Goossen previously served as Kansas commissioner for the Midwest Higher Education Commission (1998-2002), a member of the Bethel College Board (1983-95, vice chair, 1993-95), a member of the boards of directors for Newton Healthcare Corporation (1987-90) and Bethesda Home for the Aged in Goessel (1980-89), a member of the Goessel City Council (1979-82) and a Goessel volunteer firefighter.

Goossen and his family are active in Southern Hills Mennonite Church in Topeka. He is married to historian Rachel Waltner Goossen, a 1982 Bethel graduate. They have two children, Ben, a junior, and Elsa, a freshman, at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka.

The Outstanding Alumnus Award is given on the basis of character and citizenship, service to church/community or college, or other outstanding achievements, honors, and recognition.

Goossen and other alumni award winners will be honored at 6 p.m. May 24 at the annual alumni banquet in Memorial Hall.