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Robert J. “Bob” Dole, a politician, statesman, and friend of Gallaudet, passed away on December 5 at age 98. Dole, a Republican from Kansas, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight years and the U.S. Senate for 27 years. He led the Senate Republicans for eight years. He was also a candidate for Vice President in 1976 and President in 1996. 

Dole, an Army veteran, was seriously wounded during World War II, and had limited use of his right arm for the rest of his life. He earned the Bronze Medal for valor, and later was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He was an advocate for people with disabilities, and was a strong supporter of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Dole was also a long-time friend and supporter of Gallaudet University. In February 1988, he sent a letter to Philip W. Bravin, ’66 & H-’14, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, in which he expressed his support for the selection of a deaf person to serve as the university’s next president. A decade before, Dole wrote, “…you [Bravin] and I were concerned about employment for graduates of the University. Gallaudet was in the forefront in changing attitudes and coordinating employment opportunities. But increased awareness among the general public has helped that situation tremendously.” Dole spoke at the 1996 Commencement and was awarded an honorary degree.

President Biden ordered all flags on public grounds to be flown at half-staff from December 5 to 11, reflecting the bipartisan nature of the nation’s respect for Dole. Gallaudet followed suit, showing its homage for Dole as a war hero, statesman, supporter, and honorary alumnus.

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