UT to Celebrate Opening of New Baker Center; Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to Participate in Festivities

KNOXVILLE — The new building housing the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center of Public Policy celebrates its grand opening beginning tomorrow, Friday Oct. 31.

Events include a private ceremony at the building on Friday morning, a public lecture by special guest Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Sandra Day O’Connor on Friday afternoon, and public open houses on Friday and Saturday.

The new 53,000-square-foot, $17 million building — constructed entirely with private dollars — is located at 1640 Cumberland Ave.

Events include:

– A private ribbon-cutting ceremony at the building at 11 a.m. today.
– A free public lecture by special guest Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Sandra Day O’Connor at 2 p.m. today in Cox Auditorium in Alumni Memorial Building.
– Public open houses from 3:30 to 5 p.m. today and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Both the private grand opening ceremony and O’Connor’s public lecture will be webcast live. To view them, go to the Baker Center Web site, http://bakercenter.utk.edu, and look for the webcast button. After the events, the webcasts will be archived on the Baker Center Web site.

In addition to Sen. Baker and Justice O’Connor, dignitaries scheduled to attend today’s events include Gov. Phil Bredesen; U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; and U.S. Rep. John Duncan.

Sen. Howard Baker Jr., who earned his law degree from UT Knoxville, is a longtime supporter of the university. He served three terms as a U.S. senator and rose to national prominence during the Watergate hearings of 1973-74 as vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee. He was a candidate for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination and served as President Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff in 1987-88. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed him as U.S. ambassador to Japan, a post he served in until 2005.

The Baker Center, which had been housed in Hoskins Library on the UT Knoxville campus, opened in 2003 with the mission to develop programs and promote research to further the public’s knowledge of our system of governance, and to highlight the critical importance of public service, a hallmark of Sen. Baker’s career.

The new facility includes a museum that tells the story of how government works using Sen. Baker’s life as a backdrop. The museum also explores modern Tennessee politics and engages students and adults in interactive exhibits.

The building also houses the Modern Political Archives, which hold more than 100 collections of political papers from prominent Tennessee leaders including U.S. Sens. Howard H. Baker Jr., Fred Thompson and Estes Kefauver, former Knoxville Mayor and Polish Ambassador Victor Ashe and former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Riley Anderson.

A 200-seat auditorium provides a setting for programs, and classrooms and break-out rooms provide space for instruction and conferences.

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the new building was held in November 2005, and construction began shortly thereafter. The construction was funded entirely by private dollars.

For more information about the Baker Center, see http://bakercenter.utk.edu.


Contacts:

Amy Blakely, UT media relations, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu