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UT faculty and administrators visit the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., for a three-day public policy summit.

Providing nonpartisan public policy insights and developing innovative research initiatives are the goals of a new partnership between the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

Established by four former majority leaders of the U.S. Senate, including the late Tennessee Senator Howard H. Baker Jr., BPC aims to connect policymakers and legislators with subject-matter experts and academic researchers. This is BPC’s first official partnership with an institution of higher education.

“BPC is where democracy gets to work, and this partnership with the University of Tennessee is a wonderful innovative example of that commitment,” said Kelly Darnell, interim CEO of BPC. “Bringing together experts and ideas from in and outside the Beltway to collaborate and brainstorm solutions to some of today’s most pressing problems is critical to moving good policy forward.”

Brad Day, UT’s associate vice chancellor for research and innovation initiatives, said, “The launch of this partnership further illustrates the expertise and commitment of UT faculty towards making life and lives better. Working alongside BPC’s policy experts, UT faculty will communicate and advise on the translation and convergence of research, education, communities and government.”

As part of the launch of the partnership, working groups of UT faculty were invited for a three-day visit to Washington to collaborate with BPC staff experts on policy briefs covering issues projected to be part of bipartisan efforts in the 118th Congress.

Marianne Wanamaker, executive director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and professor of economics at UT, said, “We are thrilled to build on our previous initiatives with the BPC to provide hands-on policy experience to a wide set of UT faculty. As the federal government gets set to implement energy, environment, nutrition and health-related legislation, it is essential that UT faculty provide their expertise to inform the policy process at the highest levels of government.”

A group of 24 UT faculty and administrators gather at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
Faculty and administrators gather at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

During the visit faculty attended seminars, Q&A sessions and policy writing workshops with BPC leadership and experts. Topical sessions included clean manufacturing and supply chains; decarbonization; climate-smart natural resources; hunger, nutrition and health; and health disparities and inequities.

“The visit to BPC gave me a deeper appreciation for how my team’s research can be structured toward answering the critical questions decision makers are facing as the U.S. energy transition kicks off in earnest,” said David McCollum, a Baker Center Fellow at UT and senior research and development staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The delegation from UT also received media training, communications instruction and policy insight from a host of influential political and media experts, including Sean Babington, senior advisor in the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Brin Frazier, chief communications officer at McCourt Global; Andrew Freedman, climate and energy reporter at Axios; Richard Greene, senior trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice; Maya Goldman, health policy reporter at Axios; Lawrence J. Haas, former White House communications strategist and senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council; Steve Scully, host of “The Briefing” on the Sirius XM POTUS Channel; and Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst and contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

Jacqueline Yenerall, assistant professor of agricultural economics in the UT Institute of Agriculture, said, “As an academic I’m interested in research that is relevant to policymakers, but not always sure how best to communicate my work outside of academics. The visit offered an opportunity to speak with individuals more directly involved in policymaking and practice writing a policy brief in collaboration with the BPC.”


About the Bipartisan Policy Center

The Bipartisan Policy Center is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security and opportunity for all Americans. Its policy solutions are the product of informed deliberations by former elected and appointed officials, business and labor leaders, and academics and advocates who represent both sides of the political spectrum. BPC prioritizes one thing above all else: getting things done.

About the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been advancing knowledge and enriching lives since its founding in 1794. Tennessee’s flagship public research university, UT is a diverse community that holds a strong commitment to its land-grant mission of learning, scholarship and engagement, with a tradition of service and leadership that carries the Volunteer spirit throughout the state and around the world. UT is a leading research institution, home to more than 70 specialized centers and institutes that provide research, services and resources in the physical and biological sciences, humanities, engineering, architecture and design, business, law, social sciences, education, and agriculture.

About the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan public policy center located on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The center aims to provide critical insights on domestic and international challenges through interdisciplinary research, experiential education and policy engagement.


Kelsie Crittendon (865-974-0312,