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Update on UT-ORII executive director

Please see the update below from UT System President Randy Boyd, ORNL Interim Director Jeff Smith, and UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman. We appreciate all of Joan’s hard work, wish her well in her new role, and are excited about the next steps for UT-ORII.

— John Zomchick, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Message from UT System President Randy Boyd, ORNL Interim Director Jeff Smith, and UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman

Joan Bienvenue, executive director of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute and vice provost for UT Knoxville, has accepted a position as the University of Texas System’s associate vice chancellor for research and will be leaving UT-ORII early this summer.

UT-ORII’s Executive Council, which includes leadership from the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will name an interim director while a national search for Joan’s replacement is underway.

In her two years helping to launch and lead UT-ORII, Joan and her team have made great progress in aligning university and national lab capabilities in a way that will establish Tennessee as a hub for convergent research and talent development.

Also—thanks to generous support from the state of Tennessee— UT-ORII is accelerating recruitment of 100 researchers and mentors along with 500 graduate students who will be leaders in emerging fields including clean energy manufacturing, advanced materials, and energy storage and transportation.

Institute programs will continue without disruption.

In May, UT-ORII will welcome undergraduates from across the nation for its 10-week Student Mentoring and Research Training (SMART) summer internship program. Seed grants that have already yielded 10x impacts for UT Knoxville, Chattanooga and ORNL researchers will continue. UT-ORII also is working with Nissan, Middle Tennessee Electric, Tennessee State University and Seven States Power Corporation to give Nissan’s used electric vehicle batteries a second life as a Battery Energy Storage System at Nissan’s headquarters in Franklin.

Please join us in thanking Joan for creating great momentum in the institute’s first two years, and please support the search for a new director who will help us to realize UT-ORII’s full impact on research, education, and workforce and economic development.