Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

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The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics
Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics logo.png
Established 2003
Director Bill Lacy
Location Lawrence, Kansas, USA
Campus Urban
Robert J Dole Institute of Politics.JPG

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, often shortened to the Dole Institute, is a nonpartisan political institution housed at the University of Kansas founded by the former U.S. Senator from Kansas and 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole. Opened on July 22, 2003 - Dole's 80th birthday - the institute's $11 million, 28,000-square-foot (2,600 m2) 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 major parties. The institute sponsors the Dole Lecture, which is given in April and features a nationally prominent figure addressing some aspect of contemporary politics or policy. The institute awards the annual Dole Leadership Prize each September, which includes a $25,000 cash award. 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 discuss the nation's highest office in ways that combine scholarly rigor with popular access.

The director of the institute is Bill Lacy, who worked as a strategist on Sen. Dole's 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns and his 1992 senatorial campaign. Before Lacy's arrival in 2004, Steve McAllister, a former dean of the University of Kansas law school, served as interim director from October 2003 to September 2004. Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian, was the first director and held the position for two years.

Lacy took a leave of absence from the institute to work on the presidential campaign of former Sen. Fred Thompson and returned to his role as director in the spring of 2008.


Shortly after the 1996 presidential election, University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway approached Senator Dole with a proposal that he entrust his congressional papers, accrued over 35 years of public service, to KU--the university he attended before military service in WW II interrupted his studies. The University was eager to build upon the research potential of this collection and create an institute that would offer opportunities for the public and for students of all ages and all backgrounds—from KU and across the nation—to discover how they might best serve their communities, their states, and the nation.

Senator Dole immediately agreed, but insisted that he wanted no personal monument. Rather, he favored creation of a non-partisan forum, dedicated to public service, training for leadership, and promoting the ideal that politics is an honorable profession. "It's not for Bob Dole," Sen. Bob Dole said. "It's for the students. "I don't need any buildings. Hopefully, it can do somebody some good."[1]


Polly’s Pond: 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2). reflecting pool, reminiscent of Washington, D.C. Tidal Basin (gift of Polly Bales of Logan, Kansas).

Kansas State Seal: A 14-foot (4.3 m) replica of the Kansas state seal crowns the building’s façade (gift of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation of Logan, Kansas).

Darby Gallery (gift of former Kansas United States Senator Harry Darby’s family).

Russell Window: 20-foot (6.1 m)-by-12-foot (3.7 m) “Russell Window,” a stained-glass work of art evoking the landscape of Russell, Kansas (Dole’s hometown) and many similar western Kansas towns (gift of the Senator in memory of his parents, Doran and Bina Dole).

Kansas Granite Floor Map: 19-foot (5.8 m) red granite floor map of Kansas with brass stars symbolizing the three towns of Russell Topeka, and Lawrence, all of which played an important role in Senator Dole’s life (gift of the Billings family).

Hansen Hall: the main exhibit hall (gift of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation of Logan, Kansas).

American Flag Window: a 29-foot (8.8 m) stained-glass American flag (gift of KU Alumni Forrest and Sally Hoglund).

World Trade Center Memorial: two 11 ½ foot columns salvaged from the Twin Towers (gift of KU Alumni Fred and Virginia Urban Merrill).

At the opposite end of the central exhibit hall a 12-foot (3.7 m) replica of the U. S. Capitol Dome (gift of Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole) tops a multi-screen video “tour” of the legislative process, narrated by Bob Dole.

Rhodes Conference Room (gift of Roland and Winona Rhodes).

Simons Media seminar room (gift of the Simons Family).

Dole Lecture[edit]

Dole Leadership Prize recipients[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°57′20″N 95°15′55″W / 38.95556°N 95.26528°W / 38.95556; -95.26528