About the Dole Institute
The mission of the Dole Institute of Politics is to promote political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bi-partisan, balanced manner. By providing a forum for discussion of political and economic issues, fostering for public service leadership and encouraging participation in the political process, we emphasize that politics is an honorable profession and that only through political and civic participation can citizens redirect the course of our nation. While the objective is to accomplish this mission on a broad scale, our location at the University of Kansas provides a unique opportunity for outreach to young people and students.
We utilize the three distinct components of the Dole Institute to accomplish this mission: unique displays that tell the compelling story of Bob Dole's life in the context of Kansas and The Greatest Generation; the largest congressional archives in existence that house all of the Senator's congressional papers and will someday be the scene of critical historical research; and finally, the aggressive public programming conducted by the Dole Institute.
Shortly after his loss in the 1996 presidential election, Bob Dole received a proposal to entrust his congressional papers, accrued over 35 years of public service to the University of Kansas, where he had studied before WWII service interrupted his studies.
Dole agreed to the proposal, but insisted that he did not want a personal monument: "It's not for Bob Dole," Dole said. "It's for the students. I don't need any buildings. Hopefully, it can do somebody some good."
Together, Dole & KU crafted the Dole Institute, which would not only house and catalog the papers for research use, but offer public opportunities for all individuals to discover how they might best serve their community, their state, and their nation.
Established as the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy and later shortened to the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, the Dole Institute was created as a non-partisan forum, dedicated to public service, training for leadership, and promoting the ideal that politics is an honorable profession.
Housed on KU's West Campus, the Dole Institute broke ground in October 2001 and completed construction in July 2003.
A four-day dedication ceremony opened the building to the public on July 19-22, 2003. The opening activities, which included fireworks displays, a USO-style dance, vintage vehicle and aircraft displays, an awards banquet, and a public picnic, served as both a thank you to Dole and all veterans, as well as inspiration to public service for the more than 25,000 individuals who attended.
The formal dedication ceremony was held on July 22, 2003-Dole's 80th birthday. Dole was joined by his wife, former Senator Elizabeth Dole, former President Jimmy Carter, former Sen. George McGovern, former Rep. Jack Kemp, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw, Winston Churchill's great-grandson, Duncan Sandys, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Arlen Specter, former Sen. Howard Baker, former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, and 5,000 of his friends and well-wishers in the audience.
"On a day like this, your thoughts go back not to the bills you've passed or the campaigns you've won -- rewarding as they may be. You think instead of the people, all along the way, who have given of their strength so that you could be strong. Remember that the greatness of America lies, not in the power of her government, but in the goodness of her people. And that the greatest of victories are not won at the polls. They are won in human hearts," said Dole.
Today, the Dole Institute continues its noble beginnings, hosting dozens of public programs each year discussing a variety of contemporary and historical issues. These programs have featured many national and world leaders, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; former President of Poland Lech Walesa; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito; Vice-President Joe Biden; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole, Howard Baker, and Tom Daschle; General David Petraeus; NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw and countless other prominent journalists, authors, historians, public servants and political practitioners.
- Brokaw Salutes Dole Institute on NBC's TODAY
“I was just at the Bob Dole Institute at the University of Kansas, and I recommend to everybody watching this broadcast that if you get anywhere near Lawrence, Kansas, go to the Bob Dole Institute.....and you'll see some bright young people who are entering public life or are interested in the issues of the day. And you'll see a remarkable small museum about Bob's astonishing life. It is a great tribute to a great American." ....Tom Brokaw, during June 15 interview on NBC's Sunday TODAY