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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee announced Thursday the selection of Kurt W. Schlieter as director of government relations, based in Washington, D.C.

Schlieter, who is currently senior legislative assistant and appropriations associate on the staff of Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp, will begin his UT duties in July.

“Our goal to improve our presence at the federal level will be greatly enhanced by the addition of Kurt Schlieter,” UT President John Shumaker said. “He was strongly supported by Congressman Wamp and has the experience in working directly with congressional staff to be an effective presence for us immediately.”

Tom Ballard, UT-s vice president for public and governmental relations, said Schlieter will fill a critical void for the university.

“We need full-time representation in the nation-s capital as we grow our research base in medical, biological, computational science, nanoscale technologies, areas related to homeland defense, aerospace, transportation and basic research,” he said.

Ballard cited the “UT System Scorecard” that calls for significant growth in total research expenditures as well as expenditures in the areas of science and engineering.

“The federal government plays a very important role in achieving these goals through direct appropriations as well as grants and contracts.”

The search process for the director of government relations began with UT-s new Federal Relations Council, which represents all campuses. The group reviewed a number of applicants and narrowed the list to a few who were interviewed.

Schlieter has worked in Washington as a congressional staff member since 1993. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a double major in history and psychology, has completed advanced studies at the Legislative Studies Institute, an adjunct of Columbia University, and is a Master of Divinity candidate at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies.