Washburn Law Mourns the Passing of Robert Dole

Senator Robert Dole passed away on Sunday, December 5, 2021. Washburn University School of Law Dean Carla Pratt and Washburn University President Jerry Farley shared the following statements. A selection of photos featuring Bob Dole is below.

Statement by Dean Carla Pratt

Photograph: Bob Dole (2004).The Washburn Law School community is grieving the loss of one of our most distinguished and prominent alumni, Senator Robert Dole, known to us fondly as Bob Dole. Senator Dole died of lung cancer on Sunday, December 5, 2021. He was 98 years old.

Senator Dole was one of the most influential and effective legislators in our nation's history. He was able to work with people across the political spectrum to the benefit of all Americans. He was one of the primary architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act which is arguably the largest piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress. As a World War II veteran who was seriously injured in the war and left with a permanent disability to his right hand, Senator Dole was unable to write with his right hand following the war. Nonetheless, he wanted to study law. He shared a story with me that he had applied to another law school, but that law school was unable to accommodate his disability. He applied to Washburn and was promptly offered the accommodations that he needed to enroll at and graduate from Washburn University School of Law. He told me that Washburn holds a special place in his heart because it was committed to educating all people, including people with disabilities, before the law mandated that educational institutions provide the necessary accommodations to provide access to higher education to people with disabilities. Thanks to his generosity, Washburn Law has a scholarship for students with disabilities that is named for Senator Dole.

Senator Dole used his law degree to continue service to his country. From 1961 to 1996 he represented Kansas in Congress, and from 1985 to 1996, he was the Republican Leader of the United States Senate. He pursued the office of President of the United States in 1996 and won the Republican party's nomination, but was defeated in the election by President Clinton. In 2018, Congress awarded former Senator Dole the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal. His colleagues in the House of Representatives referred to him as a "giant of unrivaled courage." One of my favorite quotes from Senator Dole is "when it's all over, it's not who you were,... it's whether you made a difference." Senator Dole made a difference in the lives of so many Americans and for generations of Americans to come. His was a life of service; a life well-lived.

Statement by President Jerry Farley

Today [Sunday, December 5, 2021] we learned of the passing of Bob Dole, a personal friend to me and many in the Washburn community and one of our most esteemed alumni. Senator Dole earned both a bachelor of arts and a juris doctor in 1952 from Washburn University. Washburn recognized him with two honorary doctor of law degrees in 1969 and 1985, as well as the Washburn Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award in 1966 and the School of Law Alumni Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Senator Dole made America a better place for all Americans by truly living our moto of 'non nobis solum,' 'not for ourselves alone.' He built relationships throughout his life based on trust, respect and integrity. From his dedication to veterans and disabled Americans, to his congressional leadership, he set an example every American should emulate.

He 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.

Like myself, so many in the Washburn community have been personally touched by Sen. Dole's friendship, his genuine care for others and his generosity and service to Washburn. I join countless others in mourning his passing but rising to celebrate his life and pass on his spirit of service to all.

Bob Dole at his law school commencement.
Photograph: Bob Dole at his law school commencement.

Bob Dole (center) with other Class of 1952 graduates.
Photograph: Bob Dole with other 1952 graduates.

Washburn Law Class of 1952 (Dole is top row, center).Photograph: Washburn Law Class of 1952.|

Bob Dole at 1969 commencement and dedication of new law building.
Photograph: Bob Dole at commencement and new law school building dedication in 1969.

Bob Dole at Washburn Law prior to his announcement in 1995 that he would be running for President.
Photograph: Bob Dole at Washburn Law prior to his announcement in 1995 that he would be running for President.

Bob Dole speaking at the Washburn Law centennial celebration in March 2004.
Photograph: Bob Dole speaking at the Washburn Law centennial celebration in March 2004.

Statue of Bob Dole on the Washburn Campus.
(Watch dedication ceremony on YouTube (59:39))
Photograph: Statue of Bob Dole on the Washburn Campus dedicated in September 2018.