U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today at the dedication of the new Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville that “this magnificent new Baker Center is a fitting legacy for one of the most admired and consequential leaders of America’s greatest generation. It sits right where it ought to sit – in a prominent place on the campus where once he was student body president and where today is the favorite son.”
“During the last forty years Howard Baker has inspired and challenged three generations of political leaders to try to be at our best,” said Alexander, a former Secretary of Education and former president of the University of Tennessee. “Now with the Baker Center having a permanent home at the University of Tennessee, we can say that our children and grandchildren will also have the privilege of being inspired by the man whose example brought out the best in so many of us.”
In early 2003, the Howard Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy began operations at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but has been situated in the Hoskins Library awaiting completion of the new building.
In 2007, Congress approved $5 million for the Baker Center’s endowment fund as part of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008, which became law as part of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008.” Alexander is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that approved that legislation. In 2000, Congress also provided $6 million to help establish the Baker Center.
Alexander said the 53,000 square foot facility adds a permanent structure to this important new part of the university. The new building includes:
• Classrooms and offices.
• A 200-seat auditorium.
• A museum telling the story of how government works by using Senator Baker’s life as a backdrop.
• A Modern Political Archives, holding more than 100 collections of political papers from prominent Tennessee leaders, including:
o U.S. Senator Howard Baker
o U.S. Senator Fred Thompson
o U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver
o Former Knoxville mayor and current U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe
o Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Riley Anderson
The Baker Center focuses on maintaining and promoting research in the papers of Howard Baker and other political collections at the university; hosting public programs on issues of local, regional, national, and international significance (with a special interest given to the role of the media); and engaging in innovative education initiatives to help students of all ages better understand the American political system. Its mission is to develop programs and promote research to further the public's knowledge of our system of governance, and also to highlight the critical importance of public service.