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Deborah Crawford named Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville

May 12, 2020   /   by John Hollis

Deborah Crawford, George Mason University’s vice president for research, innovation and economic impact, will become University of Tennessee’s next vice chancellor for research and begins work in Knoxville on Aug. 1.

Since her arrival at Mason in 2016, university research and development expenditures have increased dramatically, climbing from $109 million in 2016 to $187 million in 2019.

“My life’s passion is working with talented faculty and students whose ground-breaking research will help create a more just, prosperous and sustainable world,” Crawford said. “It has been my great honor and a great privilege to work with the world-class researchers at George Mason University and our many partners and sponsors. And I am looking forward to what the future holds in my new home at the University of Tennessee.”

Deborah Crawford, Mason’s vice president for research, innovation and economic impact, will become UT’s next vice chancellor for research. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services.

Crawford’s emphasis on multidisciplinary research at Mason led to the creation and implementation of three university-wide multidisciplinary research establishments: Institute for Biohealth Innovation (IBI) in 2016; the Institute for a Sustainable Earth (ISE) in 2019 in collaboration with Future Earth; and the Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA), which will launch in the coming weeks.

The institutes play a crucial research development role, helping connect Mason’s communities of researchers and scholars with each other and with collaborators and sponsors in other academic institutions and in public and private sector organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.

“Dr. Crawford has led Mason’s research efforts through a tremendous time of growth and expansion, putting us on pace for a record year of research expenditures and putting us on the map as a partner with Amazon to feed the tech talent pipeline,” said Interim President Anne Holton. “Through her leadership and ability to harness Mason’s faculty research and scholarship strengths, Mason has cemented it status as a top-tier research university.”

Crawford played an integral role in the core team responsible for the university’s engagement in the commonwealth’s proposal to Amazon for HQ2 in 2018. Their vision and strategy led to the ongoing $250 million transformation of Mason’s Arlington Campus with funding provided in part by Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program.

She also worked closely with colleagues and with sister institutions to create the state-wide Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). Mason leads the Northern Virginia Regional Node (NoVA Node) for CCI, which includes more than 70 public and private sector partner organizations dedicated to advancing translational research and the commercialization of research outcomes in new and existing Virginia businesses. In addition, Crawford supports the Mason Enterprise Center, which annually delivers technical assistance to more than 1,000 small businesses throughout Virginia.

In her new role, Crawford will be responsible for developing and implementing research plans, building innovative partnerships and raising UT’s national and international reputation. She will also work closely with the provost and university partners at Oak Ridge National Lab to ensure the success of the proposed Oak Ridge Institute.

“The value and importance of innovation has never been clearer than in recent weeks and months, and I’m pleased to have such an accomplished scientist and leader joining our team,” UT Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “Dr. Crawford brings a unique set of experience and expertise that will help elevate the impact of our research.”