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Former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker encouraged UT graduates to seek goals beyond their reach and to find ways to serve their country and their fellow man.

Baker gave the spring commencement address to UT Knoxville’s 3,079 graduates this morning, after becoming the first to receive an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters.

“Be more than you think you can be, whatever endeavor you may choose for your life,” said Baker, a 1949 UT College of Law graduate.

Baker spoke of being one of four generations of UT alumni and his great pride in receiving the honorary degree at the same time that his grandson, Daniel, graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Baker illustrated the political and social challenges that existed in the world when his he, his father and his son attended UT, and more of the promise for this generation.

“We now have it in our power to educate more of the world in your generation than has been educated in all of time up to now,” he said, adding that knowledge tools of distance learning, transportation and communication used to educate mankind can be the salvation to a suffering world.

President John Petersen hooded the honored guest and Chancellor Loren Crabtree presented him with his diploma.

Special recognition was also extended to Macebearer Joseph G. Cook, professor of law, who received the highest faculty honor. Golden Graduates, alumni who received their degrees in 1955, also took part in the processional.

Thirty students were also commissioned in to the United States Armed Forces by Col. Alfred M. Coffman, Jr. and received a spirited standing ovation by all attendees.

Read more about Baker and UT-s Howard Baker Center at

High-resolution photos of the event are available for download at