Vice President for National Labs

Jeff serves as vice president for national labs, the University of Tennessee System’s primary liaison to the ORNL leadership team, the U.S. Department of Energy and Battelle Memorial Institute on matters that relate to the UT-Battelle management and operations contract for ORNL.

Graduating from the Ohio State University in 1981 with a B.S. degree in ceramic engineering, Jeff worked briefly for the Anchor Hocking Glass corporation before joining Battelle in 1984 and stayed with Battelle until 2021. In 2023, he was asked by the UT-Battelle board of directors to return as interim lab director where he served until October 2023.

As interim lab director of ORNL, Jeff led more than 6,500 staff members with an organizational budget of $2.7 billion to deliver on critical national missions for the U.S. Department of Energy by leveraging Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) world-leading facilities.

From 2000 to 2021, Jeff served as deputy for operations at ORNL, the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest multi-program science and energy laboratory.

During his 21 years as deputy for operations, Jeff led a $750 million modernization of ORNL that transformed the dated facilities of the Manhattan Project-era site into one of the world’s most modern laboratories.

Several major scientific facilities were completed on his watch, to include:

  • the $1.4B Spallation Neutron Source, the world’s most powerful neutron science facility,
  • a Carbon Fiber Technology Facility to advance the development of low-cost carbon fiber and,
  • the world’s largest supercomputer center, capable of delivering up to 60 megawatts of power to today’s world leading machines.

Jeff’s tenure also saw safety performance improve to record levels, including coordinating efforts to improve the safety and reliability of the High Flux Isotope Reactor, the nation’s premier research reactor.

Jeff currently serves as a board member of the UT-Battelle Development Corporation, where he served as president from 2002 to 2023. He also serves as a member of the Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council for the State of Tennessee.

Previously, he served on the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors from 2017 to 2022, the Knoxville Metropolitan Airport Authority board of commissioners from 2005 to 2023 and the Cherokee Farm Development Corporation/Cherokee Farm Properties, Inc. board of directors from 2013 to 2022.

He and his wife, Debbie, of 41 years have three daughters and three grandchildren. Jeff is an instrument rated pilot; has built two airplanes, one being a Carbon Cub that he now flies along with a Cirrus SR22. Jeff has restored a 1953 Chevrolet pickup truck, has built several homes and enjoys a little woodworking. He also volunteers with his wife to assist Homes of Love, an organization that provides a family living environment for at-risk children in Southeast Asia and Africa.