School of Law completes $1 million matching gift challenge for Dole Plaza

Artist rendering of Dole PlazaThe Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation is pleased to announce that a $1 million matching gift challenge has been completed and will pay tribute to Sen. Bob Dole, BA ’52, JD ’52, H ’69, H ’85, by naming a new plaza outside of the planned Washburn University School of Law building.

Mark, BA ’74, JD ’77, H ’01, and Lisa, BA ’84, Heitz established the matching challenge to honor the senator, war hero, native Kansan and Washburn alumnus. The funds will help create the Senator Robert J. Dole Plaza, a place for outdoor entertaining at the new law school building on the corner of 21st and Washburn Ave. The Heitzes challenged donors to match their $1 million gift to the law building to name the outdoor plaza in honor of Dole.

“Lisa and I knew we wanted to make a substantial contribution and wanted it to be in honor of Sen. Bob Dole,” Mark Heitz said. “We have so much admiration and respect for Sen. Dole that we wanted to make sure the Washburn Law educated senator who represented Kansas was permanently represented in the new law school building.”

Total fundraising for the building surpassed the $14 million mark in October, exceeding the original goal of $13 million.

Dole has developed a worldwide reputation for public service. Born in Russell, Kansas, he enlisted in the Army in 1942. After recovering from an injury sustained during World War II, he enrolled at Washburn for an undergraduate and law degree. He went on to hold elected positions in the Kansas House of Representatives, as Russell County (Kansas) attorney and as U.S. congressman before spending nearly 30 years as U.S. senator.

“I decided Washburn is where I would get the best education,” Dole said. “I learned very quickly the value of hard work. My Washburn education was everything for me as I started my career in public service. I am humbled that Mark, Lisa and all the donors to the plaza chose to honor me at Washburn in this way. I am excited for the future of Washburn Law.”

Dole 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 and has been a strong advocate for veterans and the disabled. In January 2018, Dole was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor. He received two honorary doctor of law degrees from Washburn University in 1969 and 1985.

“We are proud to honor Sen. Dole and his service to our country while enhancing the beauty of the new law building with Dole Plaza,” said Jerry Farley, president, Washburn University. “Thank you to Mark, Lisa and everyone who gave to this matching challenge. I know you all share the same pride we feel in honoring Sen. Dole, a great American.”

The School of Law is honored to give Dole permanent recognition in the new building.

“I’m especially grateful to Mark and Lisa for their leadership in establishing this matching gift challenge that has enabled us to do something very special to honor Sen. Dole in our new building.” said Carla Pratt, dean, Washburn Law. “We are very proud of Sen. Dole, a native son of Kansas, and a very special person to the School of Law. I am thrilled that his lifelong service to Washburn, Kansas, and the United States will be recognized in our new building.”