A large gift from former Sen. Bob Dole to Kansas University's Dole Institute of Politics will help fund future programming, KU announced Wednesday.
The $500,000 gift came at the end of December and will be added to the institute's endowment. Jonathan Earle, the institute's interim director, said the gift boosts the total endowment to $8.5 million, the interest of which supports programs like the Dole Lecture, the Dole Fellows and the presidential lecture series.
"It was a very big surprise," Earle said. "I'm planning to meet with him in Washington, D.C., next week about if there's any specific program he wants us to use it for."
Earle noted that the gift was especially important to him because he's normally the institute's associate director for programming.
In a statement released by KU, Dole thanked the university for its support of his work.
"I hope my contribution will underscore my commitment to bipartisanship and will encourage others to participate," he said. "The institute is all about the future and the students of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow. The institute's record speaks for itself, and I am proud to play a small part in its success."
Shawn McDaniel, the KU Endowment director for the Dole Institute, said fundraising for the Dole Institute totaled more than $2 million in 2007, with a goal of hitting a $20 million endowment over time.
"It's a long-term goal. It's an ambitious goal," he said. "There isn't a timeline for its completion, but it's a priority for KU Endowment."
McDaniel said one of the biggest challenges is identifying those who would contribute to the endowment and reaching out to them.
Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy, who has been on a leave of absence to run Fred Thompson's recently ended presidential campaign, said the gift was above and beyond anything that the institute would ever expect from the senator.
"I think it further shows the senator's enormous support for the institute and its mission," Lacy said. "It shows he's really pleased with the direction the institute is taking."