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KNOXVILLE — Former U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. is this year’s recipient of Destination ImagiNation’s coveted Risorgimento Award for his long career in public service and the work of the Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The Risorgimento Award honors outstanding creativity in initiatives that result in making the world a better place. The award will be given today during Destination ImagiNation’s Global Finals, hosted this week by UT Conferences.

Destination ImagiNation (DI), based in New Jersey, is the world’s largest creative problem-solving program for youth. More than 200,000 students in more than 56 countries participate in DI.

Baker, a UT alumnus and former ambassador to Japan, is not able to attend the ceremony because he will be accepting the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, Japan’s highest foreign civilian award.

“I am honored to accept this award from Destination ImagiNation,” Baker said. “At the center, our goal is to enable the best ideas to be found and adopted by working together for the common good. That is what we do at the center and that’s exactly what Destination ImagiNation teaches young people to do.”

Risorgimento means to rise again, be reborn or rejuvenated. A risorgimentor is someone who changes his field of endeavors through creativity and causes it to begin anew.

“We could not find a more perfect recipient who embodies the true nature of what the Risorgimento Award stands for than Howard Baker and the Baker Center for Public Policy,” said Rusty McCarty, DI’s vice president for creative programming. “Over a long, honorable and productive career in public service, Sen. Baker has time and again exhibited the essence of the creative spirit in his work on behalf of mankind.”

DI’s Global Finals competition has been held on the UT campus for the past eight years, with previous tournaments in Knoxville dating back to 1991.


Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179, elizabeth.davis@tennessee.edu

Andy Bowen, Destination ImagiNation, (813) 251-8720, ab@clearviewcom.com