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A former executive from the Washington Post will be the special guest at two April 21 events focusing on civility in public policy and the media at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler, former senior vice president of the Washington Post, will speak at a luncheon and a workshop, both sponsored by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Foundry. Cost is $15 per person and space is limited. RSVP to Carrera Harris at (865) 974-0931 or bakercenter@utk.edu by April 17.

The workshop will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Toyota Auditorium at the Baker Center. It is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information contact Amy Gibson at agibson1@utk.edu or (865) 974-3816.

At the luncheon, Butler — who is a member of the Baker Center Civility Task Force — will discuss “Civility in Public Policy and the Media.” He will highlight some of the Baker Center’s initiatives on this subject, including a booklet on civility standards, a program to train future leaders in the civility of governance and a series of public forums. Butler will show excepts from a new film about civility created by the Baker Center that documents the vision of civility as articulated by Gov. Phil Bredesen; Tom Griscom, editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press; John Seigenthaler, co-founder of USA Today and founder of the First Amendment Center; and other members of the Civility Task Force. The film also includes a panel discussion that includes Sens. Bob Dole and Tom Daschle and features three case studies of civility.

The workshop will begin with a keynote address by Butler, followed by the film. In the second part of the workshop, the audience will engage in a discussion facilitated by Baker Scholars to identify the barriers to civil dialogue in four policy areas — energy, environment, education and health care policy.

Standards of civility from the booklet, “Civility in Government, Principles and Exemplars” will be available to all participants and will provide a framework for the goals of the workshop. The booklet is a product of the Civility Task Force, which is a partnership of the Baker Center, the Tennessee Business Roundtable, the Freedom Forum and the Bipartisan Policy Center. Comprising of leaders from business, nonprofits, academia, the press and government, the task force strives to promote constructive discussion on critical issues by encouraging those with differing points of view to respect each other’s opinions.

Butler retired in December 2008 as senior vice president of the Washington Post Co., where for 18 years he was responsible for public policy, new business development and special corporate projects. As founder and president of Newsweek Productions, he supervised production of 200 hours of nonfiction television programming, including “Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History,” a PBS special that won the Emmy Award for Best Documentary of 2003. Butler continues as a consultant to the Post, and he is also a senior fellow at the Newseum and Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C., and a senior adviser to the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance, the Podesta Group and Wydown Management Co. He is chairman of the Maryland Public Television Foundation, the corporate advisory board of SOME (So Others Might Eat) and the Dean’s Advisory Council of the American University School of Communication.

Butler has acted as special assistant to the Senate Minority Leader; consultant and press secretary to the Senate Majority Leader; consultant to the White House chief of staff; and speechwriter for President Gerald Ford. He chaired the impeachment task force for U.S. Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, during its impeachment proceeding against President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Butler is a graduate of UT Knoxville; earned a master’s degree from American University; holds a certificate in finance and accounting from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; and is a Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)