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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee President J. Wade Gilley has accepted an invitation to join the Council on Competitiveness, a national organization of prominent educators, labor leaders and industrialists that seeks ways to strengthen the U.S. economy.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the council works to ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of scientific and technical innovation.

“Institutions like the University of Tennessee have a key role in helping our nation retain its technological leadership in the world economy,” Gilley said. “I’m pleased to be a part of a group that has made enhanced competitiveness its specific goal.”

The council conducts studies benchmarking the nation’s ability to develop innovations in the health care industry, information technology, advanced materials, automobile manufacturing and logistics services.

It sponsors an Internet learning network that gives students an opportunity to measure their academic performance and also is studying clusters of innovation that have developed in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, North Carolina’s Research Triangle and other areas.

Gilley, who has made improving UT’s standing as a top 25 public research university one of his priorities, joins leaders from institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hewlett-Packard, the University of California, the NASDAQ stock market and Eastman Kodak on the council.

He was recommended to the organization by Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.