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(L to R), UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman, James A. Haslam II, Charles Sims, TVA Vice President of Enterprise Relations and Innovation Joe Hoagland, Marianne Wanamaker

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs has a new Distinguished Professorship endowment to support faculty innovation in energy and environmental policy, thanks to a $1 million investment from the Tennessee Valley Authority.


Charles Sims, director of the Center for Energy, Transportation, and Environmental Policy at the Baker School, has been named the inaugural TVA Distinguished Professor of Energy and Environmental Public Policy.

“This award comes after years of hard work by Charles Sims and CETEP to serve the needs of the Tennessee Valley in energy policy research,” said Marianne Wanamaker, dean of the Baker School. “It takes a full team to do the work that the people of this region and TVA value so much, and Sims is the dedicated leader of that team.”

Wanamaker added that the energy industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation due to innovations that alter how people produce and consume energy, an increased focus on environmental sustainability, and changes in the way energy is bought and sold. Sims’ role includes providing thought leadership to manage this transformation, which combines the Baker School’s expertise in energy markets, energy innovation, consumer behavior and environmental policy on an issue of high regional importance. She added that an example of this ongoing relationship is the Baker School’s partnering with TVA on the Valley Pathways study, developing a roadmap to decarbonize the Tennessee Valley by 2050.

Sims has been the director of CETEP, formerly known as the Energy and Environment Program, since its establishment nearly two decades ago.

A Research Investment for Tennessee

“TVA is proud to see Dr. Sims selected for this inaugural Distinguished Professorship,” said Jeff Lyash, president and CEO of TVA.

This endowment isn’t the first time TVA has invested in the Baker School’s energy and environmental research. UT’s research programs have benefited from foundational investments of over $1 million from TVA to support the university’s policy research, engagement and student education missions. According to Lyash, the new partnership between TVA and the Baker School represents continued shared goals of advancing knowledge through practical solutions and progress toward a better future.

“The Baker School is uniquely positioned to develop thought leaders and policy specialists equipped to tackle the complex challenges the energy industry faces, both today and in the future,” said Lyash. “As our landscape, technology and customer expectations shift and evolve, the Baker School faculty’s core commitment to educational innovation will produce graduates poised to navigate and lead the ever-changing world of energy and environmental policy.”

About the Center for Energy, Transportation, and Environmental Policy

The Center for Energy, Transportation, and Environmental Policy is expanding the Baker School’s role as a nationally recognized hub, convenor and knowledge generator. Its affiliated faculty and experts work at the intersection of energy and transportation technology innovation, the natural environment, energy markets and human behavior.

CETEP combines sound science and thoughtful policy to address energy, transportation and environmental challenges facing Tennessee, the U.S. and the world. The center is an interdisciplinary network of joint faculty, faculty fellows and affiliates, research associates and postdoctoral researchers. CETEP is part of the Baker School’s research network, which extends to industry, every level of government, the nonprofit sector, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority, and outreach partnerships at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

About the Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs

The Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs is the first and only school of its kind at any public university in Tennessee. Its mission is to graduate skilled public problem solvers prepared to take leadership roles as public servants, public administrators, policy analysts, policy entrepreneurs and candidates for public office. Currently offering a master’s degree in public policy and administration and multiple undergraduate programs that provide mentoring support, networking opportunities and firsthand experience in the world of public service, the Baker School teaches students to embrace the competition of ideas as a way of reaching more durable solutions, offering a way forward for those with the resolve to make things better.


Cindi King (865-974-0937,

Patricia Contic (865-974-3869