Greenwich businessman of Albanian descent donates $500,000 to the Dole Institute recognizing Senator Dole’s diplomacy and friendship

An expression of Jim Xhema’s “boundless generosity and firm commitment to making this world a better place”


A political connection between Jim Xhema and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole turned into a friendship that has lasted more than 30 years. That friendship, borne from shared backgrounds and mutual respect, inspired this $500,000 gift. This gift was made in conjunction with the ceremony unveiling the statue in Prishtina, Kosova which recognized and honored the 30-year anniversary of Senator Dole’s first visit, with his six colleagues, to Prishtina, Kosova.

Jim Xhema first met Dole in 1987 when Dole was the Senate majority leader. Dole was among the first American political leaders to bring attention to Kosova and its mostly ethnic Albanian population during its fight for freedom from Serbian rule in the 1980s and ’90s – when the Serbian government imposed Marshall law and draconian rule over the Albanian population.

During a recent ceremony to honor Dole in Pristina, Kosova, Xhema shared that although they grew up worlds apart, both were raised on farms.

“We both recognized that we grew up in a very similar way and that we had a lot of the same principles,” Xhema said, as reported in the Albanian- American newspaper Illyria.

Dole thanked his longtime friend for the gift and for his vision for peace and freedom.
“Jim Xhema has been my close friend for many decades. He is a remarkable man,” Dole said. “Jim’s loyalty and friendship over the years have always been very meaningful to me on a personal level, and his recent gift to the Dole Institute of Politics is a true testament to his boundless generosity and firm commitment to making this world a better place for future generations.”

Jim Xhema (left) during one of his meetings with Bob Dole.

The Jim Xhema Opportunity Fund will provide support to the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at KU for public programs and exhibits. In deference to Mr. Xhema’s wishes, when possible, this fund will be used to sponsor programming and exhibits featuring Albania, Kosova, Albanian-Americans, or the Balkan region in southeastern Europe. This fund may also provide support for a research fellow at the Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive and Special Collections.

Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute of Politics, expressed his gratitude to Xhema for the gift and the ways it will benefit the institute.

“We at the Dole Institute are truly honored and grateful to Mr. Xhema for this generous gift,” Lacy said. “His contribution will help ensure that we can continue to honor the legacies of Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole, and open opportunities to expand programming and research into new areas and to new audiences.”



KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.