The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee is a nonpartisan institute for public policy research and education. The center offers classes, conferences, public lectures by prominent figures and experts, research, roundtable discussions and other events. While programs at the center address a wide range of issues, the primary topics are leadership and governance, energy and the environment and global security.
The center also includes a political archive with the papers of many leaders from Tennessee, including Senator Baker, Senator Fred Thompson, Ambassador Victor Ashe, and Governor Donald Sundquist.
The center is named in honor of the Huntsville native who served as both Minority Leader and Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and Ambassador to Japan. His father, Howard Sr., served 13 years in Congress until his death in 1963.
Baker studied electrical engineering at the University of the South and at Tulane. After serving in the Navy, he earned a law degree at the University of Tennessee. He managed his father’s 1950 campaign for Congress and, in 1966, became the first Republican senator to be popularly elected in Tennessee, serving until 1985.
Baker helped draft the Clean Air Act, showing his commitment to environmental issues, and rose to national prominence during the Watergate hearings of 1973-74. He was known as the "Great Conciliator" for his ability to achieve compromises between political factions.
After his retirement from political life, he practiced law, served as ambassador to Japan, and published several books of his photography.
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