Leveraging the Assets
On January 25, 2010 Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed into law legislation that will create a new graduate program in energy sciences at the University of Tennessee (UT) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The new program aims to add approximately 200 graduate faculty and 400 graduate students to the UT Knoxville campus. The additional faculty will comprise ORNL researchers who will be granted joint faculty status at the university. UT and ORNL currently fund about 50 joint staff who split their time between teaching at the university and research at the Laboratory.
Resembling the current partnership between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, Tennessee's new multidisciplinary program in energy sciences will feature a $50,000 package of stipends and tuition designed to attract some of the nation's top graduate students. The majority of the students pursuing doctoral degrees will spend two years taking classes at UT and three years conducting research at ORNL.
By seeking to increase the number of science graduates in Tennessee, the new graduate program represents the latest effort by Governor Bredesen to leverage the assets of a national laboratory and the state's land grant university for economic development. Last fall the state provided $62 million to create the Solar Institute, another joint program housed at the university and the Laboratory that will assist Tennessee's rapidly growing solar industry. On January 21, Confluence Solar announced a $200 million investment in the town of Clinton, about 10 miles from ORNL. In a press conference at the State Capitol, Confluence emphasized a desire to be located near the Laboratory's state-of-the-art research assets.
Since 2000 the state of Tennessee has provided approximately $215 million, including the construction of three joint institutes on the ORNL campus, to leverage the assets of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's research programs.
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations