Tennessee Board of Regents honors ORNL, ORAU for support of higher education

ORAU accepts Regents Award
Andy Page, president of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, accepts the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 2. From left are Roane State President Chris Whaley, Page, Regent Danni Varlan and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Oak Ridge Associated Universities were honored recently with Tennessee Board of Regents awards for their support of Pellissippi State and Roane State community colleges.

The Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, which both ORNL and ORAU received, recognizes those organizations and individuals who have been “very generous” to one or more TBR institutions. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, governing 40 community and technical colleges – including Pellissippi State and Roane State.

“ORNL and ORAU understand the investments they are making in the futures of our students with the partnerships they support for Roane State and Pellissippi State community colleges,” said Regent Danni Varlan, who presented ORNL and ORAU with their Regents Awards at a recent East Tennessee Economic Council meeting in Oak Ridge. “We are grateful for their leadership and commitment to education and workforce training.”

Pellissippi State nominated ORAU for its longtime support of Pellissippi State and Roane State, both financially — $340,000 and counting – and through countless hours of volunteer time and expertise assistance. Roane State provided a letter in support of the nomination.

“Community colleges are so important in terms of advancing science and education in the workforce and in bringing in the talented workforce that East Tennessee is going to need in the next 10 to 15 years,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “ORAU is privileged to be a member of this community, and we have to be able to pay that back by investing in Pellissippi State, Roane State and their many students.”

Through the support of ORAU, Pellissippi State offers an annual middle school mathematics contest. During the past 18 years, more than 10,000 students from 32 East Tennessee schools have participated in the event, which is free for them to enter.

ORAU also partnered with Pellissippi State to offer an Advanced Manufacturing Internship, a six-week program designed to prepare students to enter this high-tech workforce, and provided scholarship support to Pellissippi State students, who worked as math tutors during their time at the college.

Most recently ORAU pledged $100,000 to support Pellissippi State’s Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on its Hardin Valley Campus.

“ORAU’s continued commitment to Pellissippi State and Roane State has strengthened both institutions and made a positive impact on students and the community,” wrote Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., in nominating ORAU for the award.

ORNL accepts Regents Award
Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, accepts the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 2. From left are Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Zacharia, Regent Danni Varlan and Roane State President Chris Whaley.

Roane State nominated ORNL for the lab’s nearly two decades of support of many of the college’s educational initiatives, ranging from an innovative program for high school students to scholarships and grants to a major building project. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Harriman and Pellissippi State supported the nomination.

“We partner with Roane State and Pellissippi State because they effectively prepare students to succeed in diverse fields, including some that are still rapidly evolving,” said Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Oak Ridge National Laboratory exists to tackle some of the most compelling challenges facing our nation in energy, science, technology, and national security, and we are fortunate to have both of these excellent colleges right in our backyard.”

UT-Battelle manages ORNL and since 2015 has supported Roane State’s unique Middle College with $119,000 in scholarships for high school students so they can graduate from both their high school and the college at the same time.

UT-Battelle in 2011 provided an initial $10,000 to buy supplies for the new “Lab-in-a-Box” program where middle school educators are given materials to use in teaching their students about biology, geology, chemistry and other sciences. Roane State faculty train the teachers. The program is still in place and provides assistance to schools in Roane State’s service area.

In 2008, UT-Battelle contributed $100,000 to help in the construction of the three-story Goff Health Sciences & Technology Building on Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus.

ORNL, through UT-Battelle, also has supported numerous other educational programs at Roane State through gifts of scientific equipment; support for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Roane State; backing for federal grants, including more than $1 million for the development of the college’s Mechatronics program; support for career-readiness training for wounded veterans; and access to lab facilities and volunteer staff support.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s tremendous engagement with both Roane State and Pellissippi State benefits students and contributes greatly to workforce development in the region,” said Roane State President Chris Whaley. “ORNL is a wonderful partner, and we are deeply thankful for their support of the region’s community colleges.”

Pellissippi State offers a high quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals. Founded in 1974, with five campuses in Knox and Blount counties, Pellissippi State offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees.

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge and Wartburg.

For more information on Roane State, visit www.roanestate.edu or call 865-882-4554.