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KNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee has renamed its new energy sciences graduate research program with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in honor of its founding visionary—former Governor Phil Bredesen.

The UT Board of Trustees voted Friday to rename the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education to the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

Photo Caption: UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek; Bredesen Center students Relena Ribbons, Callie Goetz, Kemper Talley, Adam Thompson, Xiwen (May) Zhang, Alan Pezeshki, Steven Jones, Ryan Hutchins, Stephen Wood and Melissa Allen; and UT President Joe DiPietro.

“Naming the center for Governor Bredesen is a fitting tribute to the many important ways he advocated for and advanced the university,” said UT President Joe DiPietro.

In 2010, the Tennessee governor led the effort to establish the new academic unit during a special-called legislative session on education. The center opened this fall with 19 graduate students, some of whom are pursuing one of the nation’s first interdisciplinary doctoral degrees in energy science.

“We are honored to name the center for Governor Bredesen in recognition of his leadership in education and economic development for our state,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “Early on, Governor Bredesen had a vision for capitalizing on the great potential for the UT-ORNL partnership. His vision and continued support has had a profound influence on the educational and research directions of this partnership, and the results will positively impact Tennessee well into the future.”

The center combines the resources of UT Knoxville and ORNL. It provides expanded opportunities for graduate students in energy-related science and engineering to train with the country’s scientists to take on the world’s most challenging energy problems.

“The Bredesen Center offers one of the nation’s most innovative doctoral programs in energy-related science and engineering,” said Thom Mason, laboratory director at ORNL. We are indebted to Governor Bredesen for his vision and leadership in creating this prestigious program.”

In 2006, Governor Bredesen created the UT-ORNL Governor’s Chairs program, which has thus far recruited 10 world-class scientists and research enterprises across the state. Bredesen was also instrumental in the UT Biofuels Initiative and the Volunteer State Solar Initiative and in forming the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences, Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, and Joint Institute for Materials Sciences.

In announcing the new center, Bredesen also challenged UT Knoxville to reach its full potential by becoming a Top 25 public research university.

“The partnership with ORNL is critical to achieving Top 25 status in growing our faculty, programs, and student body,” Cheek said. “We are grateful for the groundwork that helps us to become a top academic institution.”

The Bredesen Center also increases the number of science and engineering graduate students and boosts Tennessee’s economy by translating research results into beneficial technologies for the public. Upon graduation, students will become a source of talent to attract energy-related industries to the state and contribute to the Tennessee workforce.

Directed by Lee Riedinger, the Bredesen Center is housed on the Knoxville campus.

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