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ORAU Supports Secret City Commemorative Walk

Feb. 18, 2005

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Oak Ridge Associated Universities on Thursday became the first organization to purchase an institutional monument telling its early history, as part of the Secret City Commemorative Walk, a soon-to-be-constructed memorial to participants in the Manhattan Project who also built the city of Oak Ridge.

ORAU President Ron Townsend presented a check for $10,000 to Tom Hilton, president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, during the club's weekly luncheon meeting Thursday. The waist-high monument will be capped by a bronze plaque titled "ORINS/ORAU: Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies/Oak Ridge Associated Universities."

Townsend said he applauds the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge for all its efforts to plan and raise funds to support the design and construction of a self-guided commemorative walk in Oak Ridge's A. K. Bissell Park in the city's center. Site preparation for the walk is taking place now, and a groundbreaking celebration is planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, near the Oak Ridge Public Library parking lot.

"We should remember our heritage and celebrate our legacy," Townsend said. "We take a great deal of pride in our city's history and we praise this initiative to describe what happened and what it was like to live and work in the city from 1942 through 1949."

The plaque states: "In 1946, 14 southern universities formed the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS)-the first peacetime institution of the Secret City-to help faculty and students benefit from the outstanding research staff and facilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). William G. Pollard, professor of physics at the University of Tennessee and ex-Manhattan Project theoretician at Columbia University, was instrumental in founding ORINS and became its first executive director.

"Because it was created soon after the war, ORINS was able to secure a large place for southern universities at ORNL. Programs were instituted for faculty and students to conduct research in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and materials science. After the war these programs grew and became known for their excellence.

"ORINS also became a leader in developing outstanding research programs in nuclear medicine. Its radioactive isotopes tracer techniques courses initiated in the summer of 1948 allowed researchers in all fields to safely use these powerful tools for medical, industrial, and agricultural applications. In 1966, in recognition of the importance of emerging research in non-nuclear fields, the ORINS name was changed to Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). Its sponsoring members have continued to grow, numbering 91 in 2005."

The plaque also contains a quote from Pollard: "The accident of the war which placed ORNL in East Tennessee was a major factor in the transformation of southern universities into research universities."

The plaque states that ORAU's evolution and sponsorship by universities all over the nation have contributed greatly to understanding and addressing important energy, health, and environmental problems. ORAU's research, education, information, training, and public service programs have been important factors.

The ORINS/ORAU monument is one of 10 monuments that will dot the commemorative walk in the city's central park. In addition, the walk will feature one $5,000 historical marker for each year that Oak Ridge was a "secret city"-closed to the outside world-from its inception in 1942 until 1949.

Other designated donations to the memorial walk include Founders' Wall plaques for $150 and $300 and levels of donor support from $100 (supporter) to $1,000 (benefactor).

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Ron Townsend presenting check to Tom Hilton, president of Oak Ridge Rotary Club

ORAU President Ron Townsend presents a check for $10,000 to Tom Hilton, president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, for the ORINS/ORAU institutional monument to be built as part of the Secret City Commemorative Walk in the city of Oak Ridge's A. K. Bissell Park.

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