Vice President for Research

The University of Tennessee System (UT System) invites applications and nominations for the position of Vice President for Research (VPR). This leader will succeed Dr. Stacey Patterson, who has served with distinction in this role since 2017, and has accepted an appointment as Vice President of Research at Florida State University.

The University of Tennessee System is the state's oldest higher education institution and preeminent public university and is comprised of campuses at Knoxville, Chattanooga, Pulaski and Martin; the Health Science Center, a multi-campus institution with a primary location in Memphis; and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service.

The UT System has a presence in each of Tennessee's 95 counties. Through the combined force of education, research, innovation and outreach, it serves students, business and industry, schools, governments, organizations and residentsstatewide. The UT System enrolls about 54,000 undergraduate and graduate students statewide, and more than 13,000 students graduate from UT campuses each year with bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees.

Research is a critical part of the UT System mission. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a Carnegie-designated Research 1 Doctoral Institution, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is a Special Focus Four-Year Research Institution, and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga is a Carnegie-designated Doctoral/Professional University. Additionally, UT faculty and students system-wide are involved in research, adding to the body of knowledge in academic disciplines and providing solutions to everyday problems. In fiscal year 2017, the UT System had a record $481 million in research and sponsored program expenditures.

The UT System is among fewer than 10 higher education entities across the country with a prestigious management role with a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory. Through UT-Battelle, the UT System has managed Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for the DOE since 2000, while UT collaboration with Oak Ridge dates back more than 50 years. ORNL is the nation's largest open-science laboratory, with an annual budget of $1.65 billion, and UTis ORNL's largest research partner, with 214 UT faculty who have joint appointments with the lab.

The Vice President for Research will serve as a member of the President's Executive Leadership Team and as a liaison to the UT Board of Trustees on research and innovation related matters. This leader plays a key role in advancing and promoting the UT System's research and innovation mission. The VPR is responsible for facilitating and supporting strategic partnerships among UT System institutions, state and federal government, laboratories and agencies, business and industry, nonprofit organizations, and other public and private institutions of higher education.

The Vice President will encourage investment in research infrastructure; promote successful major grant and center opportunities, especially those that bring UT campuses and other partners together; serve as a champion for the UT System's research and innovation mission; and enhance its state, national and international research reputation. The VPR will have primary responsibility within the UT System for the UT-Battelle relationship and the operations contract for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The ideal candidate should have demonstrated success as a principal investigator of substantial competitive federal research grants (or equivalent) and in attracting support for research from private partnerships, government agencies (including DOE), industry, and other funding entities. The Vice President will have knowledge of and a deep commitment to research compliance and integrity and will possess the ability and acumen to help translate research for societal gain and enhancing workforce development for economic growth.

The successful candidate will be presented with the opportunity to achieve the following professional and personal accomplishments:

• Serve as a senior leader of one of the most respected systems of higher education in the country, whose reputation and resources have made it a national role model for the delivery of research and innovation, and high quality affordable education.
• Assume accountability for a diverse mix of strategic and operational areas, including the University of Tennessee's relationships with Battelle, ORNL, and the U.S. DOE.
• Work directly with a diverse and outstanding mix of UT campuses, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors for Research, Deans, department chairs, centers, and institute directors who are each aligned towards the achievement of the UT System's and the state's collective goals.
• Regularly engage with Tennessee's public officials as a key "point person" in publicly articulating the UT System's research strategies and initiatives.
• Work with stakeholders, in Knoxville and across Tennessee, a region known for its economic vitality, quality of life, and diversity of regions and communities.
• In collaboration with the UT Government Relations and Advocacy team, liaise and champion on behalf of UT for research support and growth opportunities at both the state and federal levels.

The VPR will work at the UT System offices in Knoxville, Tennessee. All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the leadership profile available at

WittKieffer is assisting the University of Tennessee System in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by November 4, 2022. Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer's candidate portal:

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to: John K. Thornburgh and Lauren Bruce-Stets at

The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of its education and employment programs and services. All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment and admission without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, and parental status.

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University of Tennessee System

John K.




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High School

  • College/University
  • President, CEO, Executive Director
  • Research Administrator/Manager


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