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As a U.S. Senator, Reagan chief of staff, ambassador to Japan, and one-time presidential contender, Howard H. Baker Jr. is remembered as "the great conciliator," a politician whose intelligence, ethics, and determination defied simple partisanship and bridged popular support from all factions.
In 2001, Congress authorized the University of Tennessee to receive a grant creating an endowment to establish the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. With a philosophy derived from that if its esteemed namesake, the center was created to develop programs that foster public interest in our system of government and the pressing policy issues of our day. It stands as a forum for debate and discussion, not as a platform for specific parties and individuals. Its program aspect is built on the idea that students and professionals can use its resources to come to their own conclusions and make responsible, informed decisions about way the world works.
The center operates as a shared resource for both the university community and the wider public, creating access to programs, plans, and an immense library of resources for all interested parties. In 2003, the Baker Scholars program was established to reward some of UT's brightest, most ambitious, and most politically inclined scholars with generous support for their academic and professional pursuits.
Year to year, the center's public programs, involving local, national, and international participants, are creating the rare experience for any student of government to participate in a dialogue between those whose policies and opinions currently inform our world and those who may one day shape its future.