Dole Institute
of Politics

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics is a facility at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. It was founded by former Kansas Senator Robert J. Dole. Opened on July 22, 2003, the $11 Million, 28,000 square-foot facility, houses Dole's papers and hosts frequent political events.


The Institute is officially non-partisan and has sponsored on-campus programs featuring prominent politicians of both parties. Among the Institute's many public programs are: The Dole Lecture, which is given in April, hosts a nationally prominent figure who will address some aspect of contemporary politics or policy. It also awards the annual Dole Prize for Leadership each September, which includes a $25,000 cash award. Finally, The Presidential Lecture Series features the nation's leading presidential scholars, historians, journalists, as well as others including former Presidents, Cabinet officers, and White House staff members who will discuss the nation's highest office in ways that combine scholarly rigor with popular access.

Currently, the Director of the Institute is Bill Lacy. Lacy worked as a strategist on Senator Dole's 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns and his 1992 senatorial campaign. Prior to Lacy's arrival in 2004, Steve McAllister, the former Dean of the University of Kansas Law School, served as interim director from October, 2003 to September, 2004. Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historial, was the first director and held the position for two years.

The Remarks of Senator Bob Dole at The Dedication of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics
Lawrence, Kansas
July 22, 2003

Before you are seated, Rick, I want to present to you a symbol of our appreciation.

As you well know, I was pleased and excited when you accepted Chancellor Hemenway's invitation to come to KU, and as the Dole Institute flourishes, much of the credit will be yours. You certainly deserve it.

This plaque is made from the same material as our building. Rick, you poured your heart into this project and have earned a piece of it.

The inscription reads: "Presented to Richard Norton Smith. A true Gentleman and Scholar and a Friend. With thanks for years of friendship and for making the Dole Institute of Politics a Reality."

Last week a reporter inquired how I planned on observing my 80th birthday. I told her I'd probably just pinch myself to make certain I'm here. Looking at the building behind me, the distinguished guests around me and the friends in front of me, I have another reason to pinch myself -- to make certain this is not some sort of dream. Chancellor, it sure makes up for the commencement ceremony I missed in 1945.

In a larger sense, of course, all this is a dream -- one dating back nearly seven years, now gloriously realized by architects and construction crews and exhibit designers and the artists responsible for those extraordinary stained glass windows. And let's not forget the private donors, and there were many. Former Governor Bill Graves and the Legislature appropriated funds to start the process, and Pat Roberts arranged for a slice of D.C. "pork." Bill and Pat are here today. My thanks to them, Governor Sebelius and the people of Kansas. If this building is a monument to anything, it is a monument to Kansans, who for a century and a half, as our state motto says, have been reaching for the stars through difficulties.

By his presence here this morning, President Carter honors us all. He reminds us how honorable a profession public service can be. I'll never forget something my friend George McGovern said. It was 10 years ago, and we had just come from Pat Nixon's funeral in California. Reporters were curious about George's presence. In response to their questions, he expressed his admiration for Mrs. Nixon. When the reporters persisted, thinking that he must still hold a grudge against the man he opposed for the presidency in 1972, George said one of the classiest things I've ever heard. He told them, "You can't keep campaigning forever."

That's the kind of politics I hope we can encourage here -- where conviction co-exists with civility, and the clash of ideas is never confused with a holy war.

In a long life, I have been blessed beyond measure by a loving family and staunch friends. For more than 35 years the people of Kansas entrusted me to represent them in Washington. Twice my party has nominated me for the highest offices in the land. Yet no honor that has come my way has ever surpassed the pride I felt wearing my country's uniform. Tom Brokaw has immortalized my contemporaries as the Greatest Generation.

With all due respect, Tom, we were just ordinary Americans who were called on to meet the greatest of challenges. Sixty years on, our ranks are dwindling. But our memories endure. So do thoughts of those who have gone before us.

To celebrate the service of my comrades is not to glorify war. Far from it. No one knows better than the soldier the futility of war, in many respects the ultimate failure of mankind. Yet there are principles worth fighting for, and evils worth fighting against. The defense of those principles summons the greatest qualities of which human beings are capable: courage beyond measure, loyalty beyond words, sacrifice and ingenuity and endurance beyond imagining.

Which brings me to the real reason we are here this morning. May I ask every veteran and the widows and widowers of World War II veterans (if possible) to please stand? We recognize you, however inadequately, for all you did to save mankind in its darkest hour. This is your day. This is the America of your making -- freer, fairer, more diverse and more truly democratic.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice embodies this America. As a young girl in Birmingham, Alabama, she lived in the shadow of Jim Crow. Her remarkable life of service traces the belated realization of promises on which America was founded -- a process accelerated by the men and women of every race who fought the Second World War against the most evil forms of racism in history.

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. And you come to realize that, for all our cherished Kansas independence, there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. Long before I joined the Army Enlisted Corps, my KU education was made possible by a Russell banker who loaned me $300. Before that was a mother who sold sewing machines door to door, and a father who boasted of missing only one day's work in 40 years, and a brother and two sisters who would always be there when I needed them.

After the war, my neighbors quietly took up a collection of $1,800 to help pay the medical expenses of a banged-up young vet who was looking for a miracle. I found my miracle in a Chicago Army surgeon -- Dr. K -- who rebuilt my body and told me to make the most of what I had. He gave back my faith in the future.

Having been given so much by so many for so long, I have tried in my own way to give back just a little. To be a voice for those who were once excluded from the mainstream on account of physical disability. To hasten the day when every American shares in the blessing of liberty. To promote a world at peace with itself. To be faithful to the values of Russell, the sacrifice of my wartime brothers and sisters, and the selflessness of Dr. K.

In America we take pride in the past, but we live for the future. To the young people who will come here for inspiration as well as information, may you never stop reaching for stars -- whatever the difficulties. Fashion your own miracles, even as you confront your own challenges. 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. God bless this great land of the free -- America.

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