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KNOXVILLE — The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has named University of Tennessee graduate student Kasey Baker as a 2007 recipient of the annual K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award.

The award distinguishes Baker, an English major from Houston, Texas, as committed to developing academic and civic responsibility in themselves and others.

“I feel tremendously honored to receive this award and I look forward to the opportunity it gives me to discuss with university faculty, deans and presidents current challenges and opportunities for American colleges and universities,” Baker said.

Eight students were chosen from a pool of more than 100 nominees through a rigorous application process.

“Although we had to choose only eight recipients, the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of tomorrow’s future educational leaders was apparent in each application we received,” said K. Patricia Cross. “These students are inspired by their surroundings, propelled by today’s issues and motivated to better the world through teaching.”

Cross, who sponsors the awards, is professor emerita of higher education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Baker’s essay asserted that creating curiosity and encouraging diversity frees students to independent thought and gives them the ability to express it.

“My experiences working in various colleges and universities convince me that this does lead to civic and academic responsibility,” she wrote.

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. AAC&U strives to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new challenges.

Founded in 1915, the association now comprises more than 1,100 accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.

For information about AAC&U, its annual meeting or the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, visit