Director of Communications, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy – 21000001NX

15 Sep, 2021


Director of Communications, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy – 21000001NX

University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN

Director of Communications, Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy – 21000001NX 


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) invites applications and nominations for the position of Director of Communications at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The Baker Center has recently welcomed a new executive director and is freshly poised to enhance connections between the university and the state by informing citizens, policymakers, and public officials. The Baker Center hosts a large number of external speakers each year, while also producing cutting-edge academic research and four separate undergraduate programs. Baker Center faculty and staff lead policy engagement for the UTK campus.


The Director of Communications will set the communications strategy for the center and will lead the communications and events management teams in executing that strategy. The director will direct all communications, media relations, and digital strategy efforts for the Center. The director will join five other talented and collaborative directors in the center, plus the executive director, in forming the center’s leadership team. In concert with the UTK Communications and Marketing team, the director will be responsible for elevating the status of both the Baker Center and the UTK campus.


The University and Region: UTK is the state’s flagship, land-grant university. We are a Research 1 university housing 11 colleges and 900+ programs of study. With an enrollment of 30,000 students, its undergraduate and graduate programs are repeatedly ranked among top national programs. UTK is poised for dramatic positive change focused on solving some of the most audacious, pressing problems our country and world face today. The city of Knoxville is a hidden gem with a beautiful and walkable downtown, a diverse music scene, active neighborhoods, unique restaurants, and a robust offering of outdoor and cultural activities. UTK is located within easy driving distance to Asheville, Nashville, Atlanta, and the Great Smoky Mountains; and a day’s drive to Memphis, Chicago and Washington D.C. Knoxville and the surrounding counties have a statistical area population of over 850,000 people. The Knoxville region houses many leading corporations, including Bush Brothers & Company, Clayton Homes, Crossville Tile, Discovery Inc., General Shale Brick, Local Motors, PetSafe/Radio Systems Corporation, Regal Cinemas, Pilot/Flying J and Tennessee Valley Authority, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Everyone Matters. Everyone Belongs. Led by the example of our Chancellor’s Cabinet, the University of Tennessee builds and supports an inclusive community that provides opportunities to lead, serve and engage as Volunteers and citizens.  We strive to create a welcoming community rich with diverse experiences. Faculty and Staff are actively engaged in the lives of our students, living and learning with them in our residence halls, student union, and other campus environments. The University seeks candidates willing to engage, challenge, and support our campus community through intentional programs and experiences. We seek colleagues who are committed to teamwork and have a palpable passion for working with and serving all constituents.


Our Commitment: We are committed to supporting the creation of equitable and inclusive spaces for students, faculty and staff, with a focus on removing structural barriers and fostering an atmosphere in which every member of the campus community matters and belongs. We work to advance access, accountability, an inclusive campus climate, and equity while combating racism, bias, and discrimination.


The Baker Center: 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 policy makers, citizens, scholars, and students with the information and skills necessary to work effectively within our political system and to serve our local, state, national, and global communities. In the spirit of Senators Baker’s work, the Baker Center offers a number of public lectures and programs within its three focus areas: Energy & Environment, Global Security, and Leadership & Governance. In addition to active research programs, the Center is committed to infusing Senator Baker’s legacy of civility, compromise, and statesmanship into the country’s political and policy processes. The Center also maintains an active and engaged student program with options to join the Baker Ambassadors and Baker Scholars.


The Center is housed in a 51,000 sq.ft., three-story domed building, which also serves as a gateway to the University of Tennessee campus and houses the Modern Political Archives (MPA), Chancellor’s Honors Program and the Masters of Public Policy and Administration. The building also includes classrooms on the 2nd floor, MPA Research Room, Howard Baker Reading Room and Toyota Auditorium.


The Position: The Director of Communications reports to the Executive Director of the Baker Center and will partner with the Center’s leadership team to further develop the Center’s visibility and reputation at the local, state, and national levels. The Director of Communications will provide leadership in telling the Center’s story and promoting its expertise and activities. The position plays a key role in advancing the Center’s objectives in generating high-impact policy research, training students for careers in public policy, and promoting the values of Senator Baker in public life.


The Director of Communications has direct supervisory oversight of the Center’s events coordinator and will have authority to hire additional communications staff. Student workers in events and communications will also be under the Director’s supervision.


Responsibilities of the Director of Communications include:


  • Designs the Baker Center communications strategy, directs its planning and implementation and contributes to content development while also overseeing content developed by other staff.
  • Consults with campus Communications and Marketing to ensure alignment in messaging.
  • Oversees the use of Baker Center brand to ensure the Center is known statewide and nationwide for research and programming in public policy and politics.
  • Manages the Baker Center brand internally on the UTK campus and within the UT system.
  • Identifies key audiences for Baker Center products and actively coordinates with Center leadership to evaluate the needs of those audiences.  
  • Partners with Center leadership team to develop strategies and products to promote UT expertise in politics and public policy topics to all the Center’s audiences.
  • Determines metrics for success of Baker Center communications strategy and regularly reports on the Center’s progress.
  • Regularly updates communications strategy to respond to market trends and Center capabilities.
  • Advises Center leadership and program directors on themes and content for Center events and program activities.
  • In partnership with Center leadership team, builds relationships with local, state, and national media to aid visibility of the Baker Center.



  • Oversees relationships with outside media vendors, including website designers, video producers, and email managers, to ensure center communications are accurate, timely, and impactful.
  • Oversees and ensures success of editorial process for all Baker Center communications, including digital communications products, social media, faculty research products, external presentations, student program recruitment, and some grant applications.
  • Provides leadership in setting content priorities for Center communications and oversees and executes content development, including interviews, podcasts, blog posts, policy briefs, media briefings, issue-specific web content, op-eds, etc.
  • Ensures proper management of Center website to provide timely information on current policy issues and Center activities, coordinating with outside vendors as necessary.
  • Oversees Center event planning, promotion, marketing, and execution.
  • Manages promotion of UT policy experts and policy products to media outlets, in coordination with UT Communications and Marketing.
  • Assists Center leadership in developing a strategy for biannual Baker Center Board of Directors meeting.



  • Provides day-to-day oversight, guidance, coordination, and professional development for communications and event staff.
  • Hires, supervises, and mentors undergraduate student workers in the communications and event management area.
  • Oversees the production and distribution of internal communications related to the work of the communications team, including updates on outreach activities, media engagement, and impact metrics.
  • Ensures all Center communications activity meets University standards and guidelines.
  • Serves as the Center’s primary liaison to the Division of Communications and Marketing.


Required Education & Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree and 5 years of experience in communications roles with public policy or social science content, including writing and editing roles.
  • Experience managing broad portfolio of communications products as well as external media relations.
  • Ability to develop a bold vision for Center communications and Baker Center engagement in a broad range of topical areas.
  • Advanced knowledge of modern communication strategies and metrics of effectiveness.
  • Organizational, motivational, and interpersonal communication skills for managing communications and event staff as well as external vendors, external and campus partners.
  • Ability to identify current public policy issues and political events and to translate those into strategic opportunities for Baker Center experts and for our campus partners.
  • Highly developed professionalism skills to interface with campus and external partners.
  • Sound judgment regarding use of the Baker Center brand in internal and external communications.
  • Flexibility and ability to work in a highly collaborative, fast-moving environment with many priorities and activities advancing simultaneously.


Preferred Education & Qualifications

  • Masters’ degree in public policy related field.
  • Previous personnel supervision and management experience preferred. 
  • Network of existing contacts in politics, media, and/or government.
  • Working knowledge of social science disciplines and academic organizational structures.



Screening of applicants will begin October 8, 2021, and will continue until the position has been filled. For full consideration, applicants must provide a resume, cover letter, link to a work portfolio sample that supports their ability to perform the responsibilities of the position, and a minimum of three references. All applicants must apply online to be considered for this position.


Please visit:


Job: Executive/Administrative 

Primary Location: US-Tennessee-knoxville 

Organization: Baker Center 

Schedule: Full-time 

Campus/Institute: Knoxville


The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of its education and employment programs and services. All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment without regard to, and will not be discriminated against on the basis of, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status.

Job posted: 2021-09-15