Sen. Richard Burr hopes other people can learn from his experiences. It was that thought that caused him to donate his collection of documents from his time in Congress to his alma mater, Wake Forest University.
The announcement was made during a private event at the university’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library on Monday morning.
“I am pleased to announce that I’m designating Wake Forest University as the repository for all my official records, documents, memorabilia associated with my entire congressional career, however long that may be,” Burr said in front of a crowd of about 200 people, which included his wife and one of his children. Burr graduated from the university in 1978.
Burr said he hopes the collection will help future generations.
“It’s not just about housing papers,” he said. “It’s a greater educational opportunity for those who enroll and grow, for all who are passionate to lead.”
The collection will include photos, documents, handwritten notes of speeches, recordings and commemorative license plates, Burr said. Two items he particularly prized are Golden Gavels, which are awarded to senators in their first two years of service. One is given to a freshman senator who presides over 100 hours of any session.
“It’s a unique snapshot of history,” Burr said. “This will be a home for everything associated with my public career.”
Burr was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, serving five terms before being elected to the U.S. Senate, where he is currently serving his third term. He currently serves on the Senate Aging Committee, Finance Committee, Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee and Committee on Intelligence. The last committee, of which he’s chair, is responsible for leading the investigation into the Russian meddling of the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign was involved.
Burr, who said he will not run again for the Senate, declined to answer any questions that were not related to the ceremony on Monday.
At the event, Burr said the only items that will be excluded from the university donation are ones his family will keep. Burr currently has hundreds of boxes from his time in public office, which are in storage at the Smithsonian, he said. Items will be sent to Wake Forest as they are sorted. There’s no timeline for when the Burr papers, as the special collection has been called, will go on display.
The other special collections at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library include the following members of Congress: Horace Robinson Kornegay, Lawrence Brooks Hays, C.B. Deane, Charles Orville Whitley and Donna Edwards. The university also houses the Maya Angelou Film and Theater Collection. A professor at the university, Angelou was a noted poet and author, and donated movie scripts, drafts of plays and more to the Reynolds Library.
Wake Forest also announced it is in the preliminary stages of planning the Richard Burr Center, in partnership with the library.
The details of the center are unclear, including the timeline of its opening and funding. University spokeswoman Katie Neal said the center is still in the initial planning stages and that donor support will be integral.
However, the goal of the center will be to bring global leaders to the university for speaking engagements, to allow scholars to use the Burr papers for research and to develop new uses for the Wake Washington Center in Washington, D.C.
“We hope to open the door wide to our students to what helped shape policy,” said President Nathan O. Hatch. “We’re proud to be keepers of this piece of our nation’s history.”