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UofL to house McConnell archives

January 11th, 2009

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Bill Goodman, left, host of the KET show “One to One,” interviews Sen. Mitch McConnell at the University of Louisville.

The University of Louisville will house the archives of Mitch McConnell, UofL President James Ramsey announced Saturday at a program to honor McConnell as the longest serving U.S. senator in Kentucky’s history.

The collection, to be housed in renovated space in Ekstrom Library, includes hundreds of boxes of papers, photos and other materials expected to offer insight into McConnell’s career and the workings of American government.

The cost of the archive is being paid for with private donations.

McConnell, who began serving in the Senate in 1984, recently began his fifth term. He was unanimously elected Senate Republican leader of Congress on Nov. 18 and is only the second Kentuckian to lead his party in the Senate. The first, Alben Barkley, led the Democrats from 1937 to 1949.

A senior member of the Senate’s appropriations, agriculture and rules committees, he is married to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. The archives also will house Chao’s papers, Ramsey said.

McConnell chose UofL for his archives because he “felt comfortable housing them at his hometown university and one of his alma maters,” spokesman Robert Steurer said.

UofL already has begun renovation of a 7,000-square-foot area on the lower level of Ekstrom Library that will include a climate-controlled archives room, a reading and seminar room and exhibits and interactive displays designed to help people better understand civic issues.

“Students, scholars and the general public will be able to use the archives to learn more about U.S. government and the making of public policy,” McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg said.

The papers will take “years to process” since McConnell is still serving on the Senate, Gregg added. McConnell’s Senate papers will remain sealed until he retires as a senator.

McConnell graduated from UofL’s College and Arts and Sciences in 1964 and was student body president as an undergraduate. In 1991, he established the McConnell Center at UofL, a nonpartisan academic program that prepares students to become future leaders.

Between 1998 and 2008, he secured more than $320 million dollars for research and infrastructure projects at Kentucky universities, including more than $150 million for UofL.

“The senator has long made strengthening Kentucky’s research universities a top priority,” Ramsey said. “Higher education in Kentucky simply would not be where it is today without his outstanding vision and support.”

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