The McConnell Center values three core principles: Leadership, Scholarship, and Service. The non-partisan McConnell Center, created at UofL in 1991, prepares Kentucky's top undergraduate students to become future leaders; offers civic education programs for teachers, students and the public; and conducts strategic leadership development for the United States Army.
The Center pursues its mission through the following:
- McConnell Scholars Program: A society of 40 undergraduate students at the University of Louisville who participate in liberal arts seminars and earn tuition and travel scholarships to Washington, D.C., and the People's Republic of China. Graduating Kentucky high school seniors are eligible to apply.
- Public Lecture Series: Through a variety of lectures, seminars, panel discussions and conferences, the McConnell Center brings influential political leaders, business executives and accomplished scholars to the University of Louisville, where their insights and examples can serve the community and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
- Civic Education Program: The McConnell Center conducts a series of workshops and conferences established to improve Kentucky's understanding of its own history; assist Kentucky citizens in developing a better understanding of the U.S. Constitution and American history; and encourage open and free discussion of perennial concerns that inform contemporary politics. Programs are available for teachers, students (both high school and college) and the general public.
- U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Secretary Elaine L. Chao Archives: The civic education gallery, an outreach program of the McConnell-Chao Archives, brings people in direct contact with archival material, thereby creating a greater awareness and appreciation for primary sources and their importance in documenting the past to understand the present. This outreach program is free and currently open to the public. The McConnell-Chao Archives Collections, which house the papers of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, has not yet opened for research.
The McConnell Center was established in 1991 by Kentucky's senior U.S. Senator, Mitch McConnell, and the University of Louisville. McConnell, a 1964 graduate of the university, founded the Center based on his belief that "Kentucky's future depends on inspiring talented, motivated leaders."