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A child make a Kansas-themed drawing to be made into a tile.

Featured Article

A Landmark Celebration

The Dole Institute Of Politics Marks Its 20th Anniversary And The Senator's 100th Birthday

Article by Linda Ditch

Photography by Provided by the Dole Institute

Originally published in Lawrence City Lifestyle

In the past 20 years, the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics has become a majestic landmark on the University of Kansas campus. To commemorate that anniversary and the 100th birthday of its namesake, the late Senator Bob Dole, a landmark celebration will take place on July 22nd. Leading up to that day are numerous ways for visitors to get involved in the festivities while learning more about Dole’s legacy.

On July 22, 2003, Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole, former President Jimmy Carter, Senators Pat Roberts and George McGovern, along with KU Chancellor at the time Robert Hemenway, Dole Institute Director Richard Norton Smith and then Governor Kathleen Sebelius and other dignitaries dedicated the Dole Institute of Politics on KU’s West Campus. The building houses the congressional archives of both Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole and the museum chronicles their impressive lives of public service.

The Dole Institute has come to be a place where students and the public can participate in non-partisan forums on all aspects of politics, as well as training for leadership and public service. The goal is to promote the idea that politics is an honorable profession, hoping to encourage young people to become involved. The mission of the Institute is to promote political and civic participation and civil discourse in a bi-partisan, balanced manner, and encourage people to find common ground.

“One thing we try to get across here at the Institute is that everybody has a different path to service,” says Director Audrey Colman. “We encourage citizens to be engaged, informed and committed to constructive leadership, whether in your town, school, state or nation. We encourage engagement across the political spectrum. It’s important for folks to understand that here at the Institute, we’re not telling you to check your beliefs and opinions at the door. We’re not telling you to be non-partisan. Yes, affiliate with a party. Engage, and don’t be afraid to defend your position. But also understand that politics is the means to an end and not the end itself.” 

The Landmark Celebration kicked off in the spring with a ground-breaking ceremony for the commissioned earthwork piece being created by Kansas artist Stan Herd. Bob Dole’s longtime Senate colleagues, Senators Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, participated in the dedication. Using the earth as his canvas, Herd is making a representational likeness of Senator Dole on the hillside near the Institute’s entrance. Visitors are invited to watch Herd work on the piece.

Young people are also participating in the art installation by drawing images of what Kansas means to them when they visit the Institute and by sending their work from across the state. Their artwork will be sealed onto tiles, creating a boundary around Herd’s earthwork creation. The museum also has craft tables for kids to explore all summer.

On July 22nd, the celebration culminates with a day-long, free public event featuring special appearances, family-friendly activities, a dedication of the commemorative earthwork, a military band, music, and more. There will be an opportunity to view the completed earthwork, which will remain in place until KU’s Homecoming in October.

To keep up to date on the upcoming Landmark Celebration at the Dole Institute, visit doleinstitute.org/landmark.

A Kansas native son like Senator Dole, Stan Herd is one of the founders of the “Prairie Renaissance,” a group promoting film, music and the arts in America’s heartland. His artistic career began as a painter and muralist before he began working as a representational earthworks artist. Since turning to the earth as his “canvas,” his work has appeared worldwide in places such as China, Cuba, Australia, Brazil and in 13 states in the US.

“Every time I do a project, I’m learning something new,” Herd says. “There’s a slope here, so we have to be careful with what we put down. It’s temporary, so we have a date with the land, but we’re not marrying it.”

How does his earthwork withstand the weather? Herd says an intense rainstorm could affect it, but most weather won’t cause any problems. Part of this piece will have stone to help give it support. But he’s committed to the earth coming through in the image.

“Bob Dole was a man of the earth,” he says.

Learn more about Herd and his work at stanherdarts.com.

  • The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at the groundbreaking of the Stan Herd art project.
  • A child make a Kansas-themed drawing to be made into a tile.
  • The stunning stained-glass flag shines at the entrance to the Dole Institute.
  • The Dole Institute prepares to celebrate 20 years on the KU campus