The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy announced that Bill Lyons will join the center’s staff as the inaugural director of policy partnerships. A professor emeritus of political science at UT, Lyons will begin in his new role September 20.
“There is no better person to lead the Baker Center’s policy partnerships than Bill Lyons. Bill is respected by Tennesseans from across the state and from all parts of the political spectrum,” said Marianne Wanamaker, the center’s executive director. “The Baker Center is extraordinarily fortunate that he has agreed to join our team.”
In his new role, Lyons will drive the university’s policy engagement on issues of local importance, connecting policymakers and community leaders with campus experts and resources. With decades of experience in politics and policy, Lyons will also serve as a mentor to undergraduate students in the Baker Scholars program and students in UT’s Master of Public Policy and Administration program.
“I am honored and excited to be joining Marianne Wanamaker and the team at the Baker Center,” said Lyons. “I look forward to working with policymakers to build upon existing relationships and create new partnerships that benefit the public, UT faculty, and students in the best tradition of a land-grant university.”
Lyons has held several influential posts with the City of Knoxville, working under four different administrations. He served from 2011 to 2019 as deputy and chief policy officer under former mayor Madeline Rogero, and he was a senior advisor to the current mayor, Indya Kincannon, during her transition in 2019 and 2020. In those roles he was responsible for communications and government relations as well as designing and implementing policies for downtown and core city redevelopment.
Lyons served as the senior director of economic development, senior director of policy development, and senior director of policy and communications for former mayors Bill Haslam and Daniel Brown, and he managed Haslam’s campaign for mayor in 2003.
Before joining city administration, Lyons served as a professor of political science in UT’s College of Arts and Sciences, where he taught courses on state and urban politics, campaigns and elections, and research methodology. He served as the director of UT’s Social Science Research Institute from 1991 to 1995 and as a political analyst for Knoxville’s WBIR-TV from 1975 to 2003.
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