Our first mission as a university is to educate students who will go out into the world and become leaders in their fields and their communities. We have an example of one of those leaders returning to our campus tomorrow.
Bob Dole attended the University of Kansas before World War II cut short his time at KU, and the wounds he suffered in combat dramatically changed his life. After serving his nation in the Army, he went on to later serve his state in Washington. And while Dole was always a strong advocate for his positions, he also practiced leadership by bringing the parties together to address the grand challenges of the day.
Senator Dole’s dedication to leadership and public service is something we seek to instill in all of our students, regardless of their fields of study. That can be via service learning opportunities, which are encouraged through the KU Core and the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, as well as through student-led initiatives like The Big Event at KU, now in its fourth year, and the JayDoc clinics serving uninsured patients in Kansas City and Wichita.
We’re supported in these efforts by the Dole Institute of Politics and its mission to foster public engagement and encourage young people to serve their communities. Over the past 10 years, the institute has been a focal point for discussions on citizenship, politics, and service. It’s also reminded us all of the rights and responsibilities of active citizenship by hosting ceremonies welcoming the newest citizens of our nation.
When we talk about educating leaders, we mean more than just preparing students for specific jobs, or even for successful careers. As a flagship research university, we are tasked with preparing students for active, engaged lives. We prepare students for lives where they take on challenges as leaders in their communities, their nations, and our world. We prepare them to live meaningful lives where they embrace the fact that we are each part of something bigger than ourselves.
There is a lot of focus these days on salaries as the sole measure of the value of college. That’s one measure—but only one. And we all know that many careers vital to our society are not compensated in a manner commensurate with their value.
Bob Dole’s experience, and the experiences of so many more of our alumni who contribute to the vitality and prosperity of our world, reminds us that we are not here simply to educate workers.
Our mission is to educate leaders.