Photo page header


Soldier, Statesman

With humble beginnings in Kansas and at Washburn, Dole lived life of service

Statue of Bob Dole with a US flag in the background

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
By Jeremy Wangler

Washburn University joined Kansas and the United States in mourning the loss of one of its most decorated and celebrated alumni, Sen. Bob Dole, who died Dec. 5, 2021, after being diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2021. He was 98.

“Sen. Dole made America a better place for all Americans,” said Washburn University President Jerry Farley. “Like many of the students who come to Washburn today seeking an education, Bob Dole grew up in a small town in Kansas. It is our duty to pass on to future generations his importance and the impact he made from those humble beginnings here in Kansas. He truly lived Washburn’s motto of ‘Non Nobis Solum,’ ‘not for ourselves alone,’ and we are proud to call him an alumnus of Washburn and the School of Law.”

Bob DoleDole, ba ’52, jd ’52, h ’69, h ’85, was born in Russell, Kansas, on July 22, 1923, and enlisted in the Army in 1942. After recovering from an injury sustained during World War II, he enrolled at Washburn. He went on to serve in the Kansas House of Representatives, as Russell County (Kansas) attorney and as a member of the United States House of Representatives before spending nearly 30 years as a U.S. senator.

He was chair of the Republican National Committee, Senate minority leader and Senate majority leader, where he set a record as the longest-serving Republican leader. Dole was President Gerald Ford’s vice-presidential running mate in 1976 and a Republican presidential candidate in both 1988 and 1996, earning the GOP nomination in 1996. He served as national chair of the World War II Memorial Campaign. In January 2018, Dole was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor. He was given an honorary promotion to Army colonel that same year.

Dole remained committed to serving and giving back to Washburn throughout his life. Along with his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, they established and funded at Washburn the Senator Robert J. Dole Law Professorship, the Robert J. Dole Center for Law and Government and the Honorable Robert J. Dole Scholarship for Law Students with Disabilities. They also made substantial gifts to other areas on campus including the new School of Law building. He served on the School of Law board of governors and the Alumni Association and Foundation board of trustees.

“Sen. Dole’s service to Washburn and the School of Law will forever be unmatched,” said Marshall Meek, president, Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation. “On behalf of all alumni and friends of Washburn University, we mourn his passing. But we also celebrate a life lived in service to so many, including his beloved alma mater. The mark he made at Washburn University through his generosity and service will forever be a part of his great legacy.”

Washburn University recognized Dole with two honorary doctor of law degrees in 1969 and 1985. A bronze statue of Dole was erected on campus in 2018 and an outdoor plaza at the new School of Law building will be named in his honor. The Washburn Alumni Association honored Dole with a Distinguished Service Award in 1966, and the Washburn University School of Law Alumni Association gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

“He built relationships throughout his life based on trust, respect and integrity,” Farley said. “From his dedication to veterans and disabled Americans, to his principled congressional leadership, he set an example every American should emulate. Washburn University joins the rest of Kansas, the United States and entire world in mourning his passing while honoring, celebrating and memorializing his amazing life.”

Bob Dole and guests at his statue unveiling


Please enter your username and password below. If you do not have a username and password, click "New user registration" to register.

New user registration
Forgotten password

1729 MacVicar Avenue
Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483