"Why all the fuss? What's everyone so excited about? It's just another building. Why make so much of this event?"
Yes, it is "just another building," but it is a spectacular building and truly deserves all the fuss being made over it and the coming three days of dedication events.
The Dole Institute of Politics building is a gem, and the opening of this unique and magnificent building marks the addition of a significant dimension to the academic excellence of Kansas University.
There are many reasons why this is a special time not just in the university's history, but for Lawrence and the state of Kansas.
In no particular order of importance, this writer offers some of the reasons the Dole Institute is special:
The building honors a native son of Kansas and one of the country's most distinguished politicians and public servants of the past 50 years.
The institute's focus on the importance of public service could not come at a better time if it is successful in encouraging men and women of all ages to realize public service is indeed a noble endeavor.
The institute is sure to focus increased national attention on the university.
The institute adds one more brick to Chancellor Robert Hemenway's dream of building the university into one of this country's top 25 public universities.
The facility is sure to serve as a draw or recruiting tool for the university to use in attracting top-flight faculty members and students.
The institute is an excellent example of how private funds can help elevate a university, or specific program within a university, to a higher level of excellence. The Dole facility is funded by a combination of state, federal and private sources, and it would not be the facility of excellence it is without private support.
The Dole Institute is sure to become one of the most visited locations on campus and will draw national and international scholars.
The use of an earth satellite information system opens a new era for the school, enabling a wide cross-section of university programs and activities to be broadcast and received throughout the world.
The dedication program will be a great show for the public, with national leaders and true heroes from World War II. It should serve as a lesson to younger generations on World War II and the threat it posed to the United States and freedoms around the world. It calls attention to how World War II affected the university and the supreme sacrifice made by so many of those in America's armed services.
The reminders of what was at stake in World War II and the price paid by so many to protect our freedoms also should point out how often there have been similar calls for sacrifice, whether in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, in Vietnam or now with new types of challenges in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, based on history, there always will be times when freedom is at risk and citizens and soldiers must be ready to step forward to do what is necessary to protect these freedoms.
Richard Norton Smith, director of the institute, will attract favorable attention to the university. He is recognized as an outstanding presidential scholar and historian, a renowned writer, an excellent public speaker and a frequent participant in nationally televised programs. According to another nationally known television personality, "Richard Norton Smith is one of the hottest properties going today. He would be prized by any university."
These are just a few of the reasons the dedication of the Dole Institute and the accompanying activities are so important and why such a "fuss" is being made over the events.
The Dole Institute recognizes a very special Kansan and a very special American: Bob Dole. The university, the state and the nation all have benefited greatly by his service, dedication, patriotism and love of his country. The Dole Institute is just a small way for the university, state and nation, as well as private contributors, to recognize what his service has meant to the country and a way to express their thanks and appreciation.