It’s hard to think of anyone who has had a greater impact on Kansas over the last 90 years than former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole. The Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University will be serving cake and hosting various activities from noon to 4:30 p.m. today to mark the senator’s birthday.
Today also is the 10th birthday of the institute that bears Dole’s name on KU’s West Campus. After he left elective politics in 1996, Dole agreed to deposit his congressional papers at KU, not to draw attention to himself and his career but to serve a larger purpose. The papers are available to researchers at the Dole Institute, but the greater mission Dole had in mind was to use the institute to promote civic involvement and participation in the political process. The institute, which was dedicated in 2003, has served that mission well by organizing programs and hosting noted speakers.
In 2004, while introducing President Bill Clinton, the first speaker in the prestigious Dole Lecture Series, Senator Dole quipped that it was nice to return to Lawrence: “A great university where I get more compliments and fewer votes than anywhere in Kansas.” It was a display of classic Dole wit, but also a reminder of the senator’s ability to overlook partisan interests in an effort to pursue a greater good.
That ability served Dole, the state of Kansas and the nation well for many years. It surely is a principle the senator would like us all to remember today as we celebrate his 90th birthday.
Happy birthday, Senator Dole, and thank you for your service.