On May 7, Sarah Hillyer, director of the UT Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in a ceremony celebrating the significant and far-reaching contributions of U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee to the field of public diplomacy.
Corker received the Walter Roberts Award by George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC) for his outstanding diplomatic work as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Alongside Assistant Secretary of State of Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, Corker and Hillyer spoke about the importance of American diplomacy in the world.
After receiving the award from GWU, Corker presented it as a gift to Hillyer. The gift is intended to support the work of his alma mater and the center’s global impact through sports projects, including efforts to develop women’s basketball in Iraq.
“We are honored to be recognized by Senator Corker for our contributions to public diplomacy and, more specifically, to empowering women around the world through sports,” Hillyer said. “We couldn’t be more proud of the senator’s work, and appreciate so much that he has entrusted us with this award.”
Since 2012, the center has served as an implementing partner of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Sports Mentoring Program, an initiative that focuses on empowering women and people with disabilities around the world through sports-based exchanges. The CSPS has collaborated with the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division on this and other sports-related empowerment projects over the past six years, training more than 150 international sports leaders to impact 190,000 youth, women, and member of marginalized communities.
At the ceremony, Hillyer, who has spent the past two decades running sport-based exchanges in more than 75 countries around the world, spoke about the ways sports diplomacy can make an impact for marginalized populations globally. She also vowed to continue the work of Pat Summitt, who she and the center collaborated with to develop women’s basketball programs in northern Iraq.
“It is an ongoing privilege for us to carry on the legacy of Coach Pat Summitt in our work at the Center for Sport, Peace, & Society,” Hillyer said. “As we told Senator Corker, we promise to honor the legacy of Pat Summitt’s commitment to basketball and education and his legacy of public service and diplomacy.”
In the coming months, the CSPS will work closely with Tennessee women’s basketball head coach Holly Warlick to continue supporting the women’s basketball movement in Iraq.