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Law Professor Carl Pierce will serve as interim director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, beginning June 1.

“Carl has been at UT for 37 years and, in addition to his distinguished teaching career, has served in various administrative capacities,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said in announcing Pierce’s appointment. “Carl will be a strong leader for the Baker Center, which provides both academic and service-oriented experiences to UT students and faculty and also sponsors community events and educational opportunities for area teachers and their students. Carl will help the Baker Center continue to grow as a national resource by encouraging its programming and research dedicated to exploring some of our nation’s biggest public policy challenges, from energy to international relations.”

Until June 1, Baker Center Associate Director Nissa Dahlin-Brown will serve as interim director. Dahlin-Brown, who has held her position at the Baker Center since 2003, has a bachelor’s degree in architecture, a master’s degree in adult and technological education and a doctorate in higher education administration and policy studies. Dahlin-Brown has been at the university since 1984, beginning with the Department of Conferences and then moving to Professional and Personal Development. Her focus at the Baker Center has been civic education and public programming.

A search for a permanent director has commenced. Jan Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration, is chairing the committee. Members are Baker’s daughter, Cissy Baker; Barbara Dewey, dean of libraries; Rita Geier, associate to the chancellor and Baker Center associate; Tom Griscom, editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Baker Center board member; Anne Mayhew, director of University Honors; Matt Murray, business professor and associate director of the Center for Business and Economic Research; David Reidy, associate professor of philosophy; Lee Riedinger, professor of physics; and Bruce Tonn, professor of political science.

Pierce said he’s excited about the opportunity to work with the Baker Center.

“I regard the Baker Center — just like Sen. Baker himself — as an immensely valuable asset to the university, our local community, our state, our nation and, indeed, to the world,” he said. “My goal will be to help UTK and the staff, fellows, associates and friends of the Baker Center build on all that has been accomplished under the leadership of Alan Lowe since the center began in 2003.”

Lowe left the Baker Center earlier this month to become director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Pierce has a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Yale University. He has been teaching at the College of Law since 1972. He also has served the college as assistant dean from 1972 to 1974 and as director of the Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law from 1997 to 2000. Now the W. Allen Separk Distinguished Professor of Law, his special interests are corporate law, regulation of the legal profession and American legal history.

A past president of the UT Knoxville Faculty Senate, Pierce currently is serving as co-parliamentarian.

Pierce also has been active in many institutional and public service activities, including serving as associate reporter for the American Bar Association’s Special Commission on the Evaluation of the Rules of Professional Conduct (“Ethics 2000”) and as the reporter for the Tennessee Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. He continues to serve as a co-reporter for the TBA’s committee.

In 1997, Pierce received the Tennessee Bar Association’s President’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Profession. He also has been awarded the Bass, Berry & Sims Award for Outstanding Service to the Bench in Bar in 1997 and 2002, the College of Law’s Carden Award for Outstanding Service to the College in 1993 and 1999, and the Carden Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship in 2006.

In 2000, the U.S. Congress awarded UT a $6 million post-secondary education grant to help establish the Baker Center. The center opened in 2003 in Hoskins Library with the mission to develop programs and promote research to further the public’s knowledge of our system of governance, and to highlight the critical importance of public service, a hallmark of Sen. Baker’s career.

The new facility includes a museum that tells the story of how government works using Sen. Baker’s life as a backdrop. It also houses the Modern Political Archives, which hold more than 100 collections of political papers from prominent Tennessee leaders.