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TULLAHOMA – The University of Tennessee has announced a seven-part plan to re-energize and refocus the UT Space Institute here.

An advisory group convened by UT President John W. Shumaker made its final recommendations based on previous reports issued by consultants, working committees, faculty and the institute’s support group. Shumaker and UT Executive Vice President Steve Leonard met with UTSI faculty, administrators and its support group Tuesday to discuss the plan.

From left: UTSI Chief Operating Officer Dr. John Caruthers, UT Executive Vice President Steve Leonard, UTSI Support Council chairman Dr. William Kimzey, and UT President John W. Shumaker

“This signals a new era at the Space Institute,” Shumaker said. “It is a reasonable and visionary plan that builds on its existing strengths.”

Shumaker also clarified the UTSI reporting relationship to his office through Executive Vice President Leonard, with academic and research policies coordinated by Provost Loren Crabtree.

Of the seven parts of the plan, research will receive renewed attention and be focused in five areas – transportation and automotive; energy; biophysics; propulsion and aerospace; and computational modeling and simulation. Another objective will be to develop a new research growth model that encourages new research, while increasing funding for mature programs.

A third part of the plan will be expansion of federal outreach efforts to secure additional funding.

An economic development mission that has specific goals and targets will be developed and tied to the institute’s research. Also in the proposal is a business development plan to assure that research findings can be measured and turned into tangible benefits for society.

In academics, structural changes will be made to degree programs to make sure they meet current demands of business, industry and government.

The final point, Shumaker said, is to do a better job of communicating the mission and scope of UTSI.

“We need to thank our faculty at UTSI and our community and legislative leaders who have been patient and have actively participated with us while we worked out the best plan for UTSI’s future,” Shumaker said.

“This set of activities will put this valuable asset firmly on track as a premier research site and will allow us to leverage these strengths across the UT system and the state. It is a very exciting and stimulating direction for UTSI.”

Leonard said the plan builds on a distinguished research record at UTSI.

“UTSI exists because of the vision of leaders in this state nearly 40 years ago. This plan is an update of that vision, extending it into this millennium and creating the unique opportunity for collaboration and partnership,” Leonard said.