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January 10, 2024 | Tom Ballard

UT Board to be asked to name Jeff Smith as VP for National Labs

Longtime ORNL executive retired as Deputy Director for Operations in 2021, but returned for most of 2023 as Interim Lab Director.

Jeff Smith, Special Advisor to University of Tennessee (UT) System President Randy Boyd, will be recommended to the UT Board of Trustees to serve as the Vice President for National Labs for the UT System. The UT Board of Trustees will consider the recommendation during its winter meeting on March 1 at UT Southern in Pulaski.

Pending board approval, Smith’s new role will serve as the UT System’s primary liaison to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) leadership team, the U.S. Department of Energy, and Battelle Memorial Institute on matters that relate to the UT-Battelle management and operations contract for ORNL.

Smith retired from the role of Deputy Director for Operations at ORNL in 2021, but was asked by the UT-Battelle Board of Directors to return as Interim Lab Director in 2023 where he served until October 2023.  He is a former member of the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors (2017-2022) and served as the UT-Battelle Development Corporation President from 2002-2023.

“We are so fortunate to have someone with Jeff’s experience in this role,” Boyd said.  “His extensive career at ORNL and his service on the TVA board make him the perfect person to oversee our lab relationship.”

During his time at ORNL, Smith led a $700 million modernization of the lab that transformed the dated facilities of the Manhattan Project-era site into one of the world’s most modern laboratories.


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