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The national search for a vice chancellor for research for UT Knoxville is officially under way.

The committee, chaired by Provost Susan Martin, met for the first time Thursday. The goal is to appoint a leader who will continue the momentum in expanding the university’s research base and strengthening and building new strategic partnerships. Research is at the heart of many of the university’s priorities and is integral to the mission in becoming a top 25 public institution.

During the meeting, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek asked the committee to find a person who will continue the campus’ upward trajectory in grants, contracts and expenditures and build upon its strong partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the UT system, other universities and state and federal agencies.

The committee is on an aggressive timetable and its work has already begun. The goal is to conduct candidate interviews in February so that the new vice chancellor can begin work this summer. In the meantime, Wes Hines, professor of nuclear engineering, is serving as interim vice chancellor.

Members of the search committee are Thom Mason, laboratory director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; William Brown, dean of AgResearch; Cynthia Peterson, professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology and associate director for graduate education for NIMbioS; Bruce Bursten, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Brian Wirth, Governor’s Chair and professor of nuclear engineering; Terry Esper, assistant professor of marketing and logistics; Carol Tenopir, Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Information Sciences and director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies; Chris Cimino, vice chancellor for finance and administration; Greg Reed, associate vice chancellor for research; Charles Glisson, Distinguished University Professor in the College of Social Work and director of the Children’s Mental Health Services Research Center; and Jon Shefner, professor of sociology.

To ensure the best candidates possible, a search firm will help with the process and to widely advertise and recruit candidates for the position. National advertising will begin this month.