Distinguished Scientist Program (UT/ORNL)

The Distinguished Scientist program between UT and ORNL was officially established by the signing of a memorandum of understanding by UT Chancellor Jack Reese and ORNL Director Herman Postma on February 11, 1983. The agreement set forth the broad outlines of a program intended to attract “scientists of national status” in order to “enhance the quality of science education and industrial development in Knoxville, Oak Ridge, and surrounding areas.”

It was also in 1983 that Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander called for establishment of Centers of Excellence throughout the state, and UT successfully proposed the Science Alliance, a center to foster collaboration between UT and ORNL, of which the Distinguished Scientist Program would be the centerpiece. Distinguished scientists were to be internationally outstanding scientists with expertise in an area of emphasis at both the university and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Jointly appointed by the university and ORNL, distinguished scientists were appointed as full professors with tenure at the university and as senior scientists at ORNL. The budget of the Distinguished Scientist program was split between UT (50 percent) and Oak Ridge (50 percent). In addition to a base salary, each distinguished scientist received a discretionary fund equal to 12 months’ salary to support research staff (including graduate students and postdoctoral fellows), to purchase instruments and research equipment, and to cover other appropriate expenses. Scientists divided their time between research programs at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and teaching and research programs of the university.

With the advent of the Governor’s Chair Program, a gradual phase-out of the Distinguished Scientist program began—to be replaced by Governor’s Chair appointments.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Distinguished Scientist Program (UT/ORNL)
  • Author
  • Keywords Distinguished Scientist Program (UT/ORNL)
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date April 21, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 6, 2018