Source: UT Office of the President | Randy Boyd | September 10, 2020

We have had some exciting developments at the Oak Ridge Institute (ORI) that I wanted to share with you. The $20 million Workforce Development Project funded by the Department of Energy is now underway, and we have been busy assembling a quality team that will help ORI move forward in excellence.

A national search for the first executive director and vice provost of the Oak Ridge Institute was announced. ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia and I, in consultation with UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman and UT Health Science Center Chancellor Steve Schwab, have named Michelle Buchanan, ORNL deputy for science and technology, and Stacey Patterson, UT System vice president for research, as interim co-directors of ORI until a director is named. Suresh Babu, a UT Knoxville Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing, will serve as ORI’s education director. Shawn Campagna, UT Knoxville associate department head of chemistry, will serve as the interim director of strategic programs. Jean Mercer, UT Knoxville assistant vice chancellor for research and director of the office of sponsored programs, will serve as interim director of operations.

We are looking for someone who is an outstanding scholar, leader, administrator and visionary to serve as the ORI director. Click here for a full job description (as released on August 19, 2020). ORI also has open positions for a communications director, a business manager/executive assistant and two Governor’s Chair positions in data science. Searches to fill those positions also are underway. If you know of someone who would excel in either of these positions, please encourage them to apply.

I’m eager to see ORI progress as it aligns our beacons of excellence across the system, expands collaborative graduate programs and offers unique interdisciplinary problem-solving teamwork and rapid innovation. It will truly bring together the best of what the federal government, state government and private sector have to offer. It will establish a network of graduates and entrepreneurs across the state who will alter the future workforce of Tennessee and beyond.

ORI will maximize coordination of joint programs as well as bring together colleges and departments across all UT campuses and ORNL. It will help to remove barriers to collaboration to help usher in world-class interdisciplinary graduate research and education. We know that ORI is key to promoting industry engagement, entrepreneurship and technology that will boost our economy and communities across the state. We need that now more than ever. I look forward to seeing the projects you launch and the impact they have as we make this the greatest decade in the University of Tennessee’s history.