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ORAU History - 1947

Dr. William G. Pollard

William G. Pollard, founder and first executive director of ORINS.

The first meeting of the ORINS Board of Directors was held February 14-15, 1947; Dr. William G. Pollard was elected Acting Executive Director of the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS). The leadership and growth of this new organization would be Dr. Pollard’s job until his retirement in 1974.

On March 18, 1947, ORINS received from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the predecessor to today’s U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a “letter contract.” The “letter contract” with the AEC was replaced by a definitive, long-term (1948-1951) operating contract on May 24, 1948.

A Supplemental Graduate Training Program, renamed the Resident Graduate Program, was established in 1947 under subcontract to the University of Tennessee (UT), one of the founding universities of ORINS, to help the AEC and its contractors retain quality staff. ORINS supplied the building facilities, equipment, and supplies; UT provided faculty. Courses were offered for M.S. and Ph.D. students in chemistry, math, and physics. There were 56 participants in the summer of 1947 and 202 in the fall of 1947.

Dr. William G. Pollard (far right), acting director of the newly formed Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, joins the original pioneers of the organization in the summer of 1947. From left are E.A. Waters, dean of the University of Tennessee graduate school, and the first two ORINS employees: Barbara McClannahan Gaskins, secretary, and J.W. Mumford, assistant treasurer.

This original mission continues today through ORAU’s Science Education and Workforce Development Programs. Each year, ORAU helps place more than 5,000 participants representing more than 900 colleges and universities in specialized science education programs nationwide. In recent years, those appointments involved more than 130 research facilities across the country.