Executive Director and Vice Provost of the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute

Date: Nov 9, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11843 


We are seeking a visionary and collaborative leader and scholar to serve as the Executive Director and Vice Provost of the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII). Located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and near the lively and historic city of Knoxville, the UT-ORII represents a culmination of the deep partnership between ORNL and the University of Tennessee (UT).  ORNL is the largest Office of Science national laboratory in the U.S. Department of Energy system, with over 6,000 staff, world-leading user facilities, and an extraordinary breadth of expertise across neutron science, computational science, materials science, nuclear energy, isotopes, biological and environmental sciences, national security, and energy technologies. The University of Tennessee System includes the flagship, Doctoral R1, land-grant institution, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) located in Memphis.  


UT-ORII was officially launched in 2021 with support from the Department of Energy and the State of Tennessee to accelerate innovation on complex and pressing challenges that require convergent research, and to develop a next generation of scientists and engineers who thrive in dynamic, team-based settings.  By strategically aligning the assets across the five University of Tennessee System universities and ORNL, UT-ORII aims to become a nationally-prominent and coveted home for convergent research and talent development. UT-ORII has plans to hire 100 joint faculty and increase enrollment in its graduate programs to over 500 students over the next 10 years. In addition to exciting research initiatives and educational plans, UT-ORII also serves as an umbrella organization for existing joint UT and ORNL programs, including a robust Governor’s Chair program supporting distinguished faculty appointments at UTK and UTHSC; almost 200 current joint faculty representing a broad range of disciplines and multidisciplinary domains; and three joint graduate degree programs with 143 enrolled students at UTK in 2023—the Genome Science and Technology, Energy Science and Engineering, and Data Science and Engineering programs. 


Reporting to the ORNL Laboratory Director, the UT-ORII Executive Director serves as the senior leader responsible for the oversight of the Institute’s vision, management, and operations, as well as the development, planning, and implementation of strategies to ensure enduring success and impact. Emphasis is placed on strengthening collaborative research opportunities and impact, and on advancing graduate education prominence jointly with UT’s colleges and ORNL’s directorates. As Vice Provost, the position is responsible and accountable to the UTK Provost on sole academic matters at UT.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Establish a compelling shared vision and associated strategic execution plan to accelerate world-leading innovation on convergent research topics of joint interest to UT and ORNL
  • Develop, enhance, and maintain stakeholder engagement and relationship management, including with researchers and leaders across partner institutions and with new and existing major sponsors.
  • Lead recruitment of high-quality UT-ORII joint faculty groups composed of individuals who have a propensity to thrive in dynamic, resource-rich team-based work modes.
  • Serve as connector across partnership organizations, including galvanizing collaborative responses to opportunities that leverage collective strengths.
  • Develop mechanisms to quickly embed and connect new joint research faculty with expertise and resources across partner institutions associated with convergent research initiatives.
  • Serve as Institute’s key spokesperson across and beyond the partner institutions, including as an effective advocate for UT-ORII at local, state and federal governmental levels.
  • Establish a strategic process for attracting, developing, motivating, and retaining the highest quality students.
  • Develop strategies and plans for establishing leading-edge interdisciplinary graduate research in emerging fields of interest to both UT and ORNL.
  • Provide leadership and oversight to ensure the alignment of strategic plans with operations (including communications, human resources, infrastructure, space) and a sustainable business plan.
  • Work with Institute’s committees to identify convergent new initiatives (beyond existing initiatives of clean manufacturing and energy storage) and develop approaches for supporting initiatives using resources available through various UT-ORII programs and budget lines.
  • Manage and optimize Institute staffing as needed to advance the innovation, education, and workforce goals of the institute. Manage key UT-ORII leadership staff, delineating clear roles and responsibilities, holding staff accountable for delivering on aspects of the Institute’s mission, and overseeing of staff performance and development.
  • Partner with human resources for the entire organization, including salary, succession planning, and disciplinary actions.
  • Facilitate reviews of the Governor’s Chairs, engaging appropriate UT department and ORNL directorates.
  • Develop strategies to encourage the creation and commercialization of technology, especially through the development of industry partnerships and entrepreneurship.
  •  Develop and maintain procedures and regulations to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, Department of Energy Directives, the managing and operating contract, and UT and ORNL policies, as appropriate.
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. or equivalent and demonstrated research accomplishments in a field relevant to UT-ORII’s research directions.
  • At least 5 years of demonstrated executive management experience, including (a) development of vision and strategic plans, (b) successful leadership of large, complex, and multidisciplinary research initiatives, (c) successful management of individuals, research teams; (d) understanding of key operational elements important for complex institutes.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain strong communications and relationships with key stakeholders, sponsors, staff, and collaborators.
  • Collaborative leadership style, excellent judgement and diplomatic skills, and ability to execute and delegate with sense of urgency to accelerate progress.
  • Ideally, the successful candidate will have experience with National Laboratories and Universities, with an understanding of how to meld strengths from both to great effect.


To apply, please submit your resume to our Executive Search Consultants: JDG Associates at darren.degioia@jdgsearch.com.


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.


Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Contributory Pension Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Disability Benefits, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.


This position will remain open until a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email ORNLRecruiting@ornl.gov.

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville