Presidential Communications Baker Center Topic

KNOXVILLE — Six individuals with direct ties to five former U.S. presidents will discuss presidential communications Sept. 15 at the University of Tennessee.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the University Center Auditorium and run until 6 p.m. Parking is available at the University Center Garage for $5.

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the UT College of Communication and Information are co-sponsors.

“If you think about those presidents we define as great, those who have changed America and the world, you think of their words,” Alan Lowe, executive director of the Baker Center, said.

“From Lincoln’s sublime Gettysburg Address to Teddy Roosevelt’s bully pulpit, from FDR’s fireside chats to JFK’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ and Ronald Reagan’s ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ we, at least in part, define and remember our presidents by their speeches.”

Speakers will include: Patrick Butler, vice president of The Washington Post, who worked for President Gerald R. Ford and Sen. Howard Baker.

Tom Griscom, editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press who was director of communications for President Ronald Reagan, and who also served as Sen. Baker’s press secretary for seven years.

Bob Clark, an archivist at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Greg Cumming, director of archives at the Nixon Library and Birthplace.

Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter who is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Harry Middleton, former director of the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library and a speechwriter for Johnson.

“These speakers will tell how the presidents’ words were crafted and presented, how presidents and their counterparts in the Congress and the press talk to and about each other, how words have and still do make a difference and change the world,” Lowe said.

The Baker Center’s mission is to develop programs and promote research to further public knowledge of our system of governance and to highlight the critical importance of public service, Lowe said.