Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, Lawrence

#3 of 9 in Museums in Lawrence
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, often shortened to the Dole Institute, is a nonpartisan political institution located at the University of Kansas and 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 $11.3 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 prominent national 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, and 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 archives hosted an exhibit in 2017 entitled "The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies & Advocates." In 2017, Elizabeth Dole gifted her career papers to the Dole Institute Archive and Special Collections.
The current director of the institute is Bill Lacy, who worked as a strategist on both Sen. Dole's 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns and his 1992 senatorial campaign. Steve McAllister, the former dean of the University of Kansas School of Law, served as interim director from October 2003 to September 2004, prior to the arrival of Lacy. Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian, was the founding director of the Dole Institute and held the position for two years. Lacy took a temporary leave of absence from the institute to work on the presidential campaign of former Senator Fred Thompson and returned to his role as director in the spring of 2008.
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  • The building is beautiful inside and out. The pond and the large expanse of lawn are lovely. The big attraction is the stained glass sculpture. There's also a piece of a tower that fell on...  more »
  • Set on a beautiful campus, the museum showcases the life of Bob Dole from his college days onto his political career. The museum is a great way to help us understand how Americans can improve our...  more »
  • Amazing tribute to a war hero and an amazing and respected politician! I will go back and take my family next time.
  • Gorgeous building. Lots of history. The USO Themeed Veteran’s Gala they hold every year is nothing short of spectacular. Love how they combine th young ROTC Cadets/Midships from KU with all the veterans in the community for one evening. Truly an amazing and humbling time. Thank you again for putting some much effort into making so many veterans feel as special as they do at this event.

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