New Washburn University plaza to honor Sen. Bob Dole

(Phil Anderson)
Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 11:33 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Washburn School of Law has completed a $1 million matching gift challenge for its new Dole Plaza.

Washburn University says the Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation has announced that a $1 million matching gift challenge has been completed and will honor Senator Bob Dole by naming a new plaza outside of the planned School of Law building.

According to WU, Mark and Lisa Heitz established the matching challenge to honor Sen. Dole who is also a war hero and native Kansan, as well as a Washburn alumnus. It said the funds will help create part of the new Senator Robert J. Dole Plaza, a place for outdoor entertainment at the new law school building on the corner of 21st and Washburn Ave. It said the Heitzes challenged donors to match their $1 million gift to the law building to name the 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.”

WU said total fundraising for the building passed the $14 million mark in October, which also exceeded its original goal of $13 million.

According to the university, Dole has developed a worldwide reputation for public service. It said he was born in Russell and enlisted in the Army in 1942. It said after he recovered from an injury sustained in World War II, Dole enrolled at Washburn for an undergraduate and law degree. It said he went on to hold elected positions in the Kansas House of Representatives, as Russell County attorney and as a U.S. Congressman before spending almost three decades as a 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.”

WU said Dole was chair of the Republican National Committee, Senate minority leader and Senate majority leader, where he set records as the longest-serving Republican leader. It said 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. It said he served as national chair of the World War II Memorial Campaign and has been a strong advocate for veterans and the disabled. It said in January of 2018, Dole was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, which is Congress’ highest civilian honor. It said he also received two honorary doctor of law degrees from it 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.”

According to WU, the School of Law is honored to give Sen. 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,”

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