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KNOXVILLE — Vice President Dick Cheney will be among Senator Howard Baker’s special guests at the groundbreaking for the University of Tennessee’s Howard Baker Center for Public Policy building, set for 11 a.m. November 15 at Thompson Boling Assembly Center and Arena.

Vice President Dick Cheney

The occasion also will mark the 80th birthday for Baker, an East Tennessee native and longtime public servant. UT President John Petersen will emcee the event, which will conclude with a ceremonial shoveling to mark the beginning of construction of the $15 million building. The Baker Center’s 53,000-square foot facility will be located at the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Melrose Place.

Vice President Cheney will speak during the program. He and Sen. Baker have known each other throughout their more than 30 years of public service. Additional guests are being confirmed.

The event is open to the public. Due to strict security procedures, people are strongly encouraged to be at the Thompson Boling Arena no later than 9 a.m. to pass through the security process. Doors will close at 11 a.m.

Event parking will be limited because university classes will be in session.

“For more than 40 years, Sen. Baker has led an exemplary career in public service that has touched the lives of so many around the world,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy. “We are honored to celebrate his birthday in this manner and to begin construction on what will always be a living tribute to his life and his values.”

The new facility will include a museum that will tell the story of Baker-s life, explore modern Tennessee politics and engage students in interactive civic instruction. The building also will house a 200-seat auditorium with Rotunda for programs and classrooms and break out rooms for instruction and conferences. The building will contain the modern political archives collection as well as a research room for students and scholars.

Construction is expected to take at least two years.

Founded in 2003, the Baker Center works to create a better understanding of government and foster a greater appreciation for the vital importance of public service. Since it its inception, the Center has engaged thousands of students, teachers and community members in public programs and educational initiatives on topics including energy policy, clean air, the Constitution, presidential history, civic engagement and careers in government.

In cooperation with Special Collections of the UT Libraries, the Center established the Modern Political Archives. Plans are underway to establish fellowships in energy policy and legislative decision-making.

“We are incredibly grateful to the many individuals and companies that have chosen to honor Sen. Baker by making a contribution that will allow for this state of the art facility,” said Lowe. “A dedicated building of this caliber will allow us to further our goals and truly accomplish our mission of outreach and education.”

A UT College of Law graduate, Baker is one of the nation’s most respected statesmen. He served three terms as a U.S. senator from Tennessee (1967-1985) and was the first Republican popularly elected to that position. He was vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee. He served as Senate Minority Leader from 1977 to 1981 and as majority leader from 1981 until he retired in 1985.

Baker also served as President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff from 1987 to 1988. He went on to serve as Ambassador to Japan from 2001 to 2005.

Public paid parking will be available at the Carolyn P. Brown University Center garage on Phillip Fulmer Way. Free parking is available on Stephenson Drive, near the Regal Soccer Complex (take Neyland Drive to Leinard Lane then an immediate left on to Stephenson). A special shuttle will run between Stephenson Drive and the Arena beginning at 8:30 a.m. and after the event.

For more information, please call (865) 974-0158 or visit

Alan Lowe (865-974-0931)
Karen Collins (865-974-5186 or 216-6862)