News and Events
The Baker Center and Institute of American Civics welcomed four new employees to staff this week.
The Institute of American Civics welcomed Frankie Weaver as a grant writer. Weaver has her Ph.D. in History, concentrating on American History, Transnational Studies, and Cultural Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo. For the past year, she has been the technical writer for NS4ed, a research center supporting technology-based career and college education services. Weaver has held teaching positions at Maryville College, State University of New York at Brockport, and Buffalo in the departments of Humanities, History, and Liberal Arts. She is a member of the Association for Information Science and Technology; Coordinating Council for Women in History; and Education Writers Association.
“Frankie brings experience not only as a grant writer but as well as a wide range of knowledge on history and outreach,” Bill Lyons, Director of Policy and Partnerships, said.
The Baker Center hired Erica Ury to join its growing student programs team as a student programs coordinator. Ury has been an academic advisor at the Haslam College of Business since 2021, assisting students with selecting their major and developing their academic plans to align with their interests and goals. Before working at Haslam College, she was an enrollment and admissions coordinator at Southeast Health College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Missouri. Ury has years of experience advising and working with students in the higher education field. She holds her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration from Southeast Missouri State University. She is currently a member of TennACADA, a primary group of professional and faculty advisors and student support personnel at UT.
“Erica is a savvy problem-solver. She brings her experience in admissions and advising to help us better understand how students will interact with us as a school. She is the perfect person to help students navigate complex administrative processes. She approaches each student as an individual and makes sure they feel empowered to achieve their goals,” Director of Student Programs Jon Ring said.
UT Alumni Elis Vllasi will return to campus as a research associate for the Baker Center’s research programs. Vllasi was recently a lecturer in international security and a NATO Field School faculty at Simon Fraser University. In 2020, he was a Fulbright Fellow with the U.S. Department of State. He received in Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2019. His research interests include Chinese/Russian influence operations, transitional ethnic links and their effect on democratization, and Western military intervention and nation-building. From 2003 to 2010, Vllasi worked at UT as a research coordinator for the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and research coordinator for the College of Engineer while getting his M.A. in political science and M.S. in Environmental Engineering.
“Elis Vllasi will bring fresh ideas and approaches to the Global Security program and the Baker Center, providing expert insights into threats from Russia and China and ethnic conflicts around the world,” Global Security Program Director Krista Wiegand said.
As the Center continues to grow, the internal operations team has brought on Carol Bell as a receptionist. Bell has recently worked as a program support specialist at the UT Early Learning Center. Bell has been devoted to various volunteer opportunities in Knoxville over the years, including time at the East Tennessee History Center. She received her bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Tennessee and spent eight years as a freelance and staff writer for UT News Center, Knoxville News Sentinel, MetroPulse, and Tennessee Green.