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KNOXVILLE –- The University of Tennessee’s College of Business Administration has signed a contract with the U.S. Air Force worth up to $25 million over the next five years.

Robert “Tom” Ladd, associate dean for research, said the contract is the largest ever signed by the College of Business Administration.

Chancellor Loren Crabtree said the contract underscores UT’s growing reputation as a national research university.

“The Air Force has chosen our business college and its faculty as a source of subject matter experts and advisers for improving its business operations. That’s a huge vote of confidence in UT and the top-notch research being done here,” he said.

Through the arrangement, the Air Force is expected to call upon UT faculty to help with a variety of research and development projects related to the Air Force transformation efforts.

“The Air Force is transforming itself for two reasons: First, today’s global war on terrorism is fundamentally different from yesterday’s Cold War and second, the Air Force is committed to greatly improving the efficiency of its operations,” said Alex Miller, associate dean for executive education.

Called an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) contract, the agreement will “allow the college to develop curriculum, teach programs, provide technical assistance or come up with cost-saving ideas and models,” Miller said. The Air Force has a particular interest in three broad areas of research: transformational leadership, process improvement, and critical thinking skills.

In one of the first projects funded under the contract, a faculty member will be assigned to work with Air Force acquisition experts for a year to help them speed up and streamline their work. Other projects already planned include research on how to implement a more performance-based approach to managing major Air Force service contracts.

The $25 million contract provides a lot of opportunities for the College of Business Administration faculty to make a contribution to pressing national priorities.

Dan Stewart, adjunct professor and special assistant to UT Executive Vice President Jack Britt, was executive director for the Air Force Material Command prior to coming to UT. In that role, he was responsible for helping to manage more than $40 billion in research, acquisition and maintenance of Air Force systems.

“This contract is important because it recognizes UT’s College of Business Administration as a national center of excellence, particularly for the aerospace defense sector. It illustrates how a university can serve government and industry by providing a full spectrum of services from research, education and training, to solving some of this country’s most complex problems,” Stewart said.

The contract is the latest in a series of collaborations between UT and the Air Force.

For instance, when the Air Force launched its plan to implement the tenets of Lean manufacturing throughout its operations, military officials contacted UT for help in establishing training programs. UT responded with a six-month Master Process Manager course that teams UT faculty with Air Force military and civilian leaders to provide them accelerated learning and hands-on experience in running rapid improvement events. The first group of 36 students began the program in June, and a second group will start in November.

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,
Cindy Raines, (865) 974-4359,