Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Mike Bradley ()
Communications and External Relations


ORNL, Morehouse sign Mentor-Protege agreement

Under Secretary of Science Dr. Raymond L. Orbach hosted representatives of ORNL and Morehouse College at a ceremony honoring their Mentor-Protege Agreement, the first such agreement between a historically black college and university and a DOE Office of Science lab, on July 27. Pictured are (from left) Thom Mason, director, ORNL; William Valdez, director, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, DOE Office of Science; Phillip Howard, vice president, Morehouse College; Dr. James Page Brown, director, Office of Research Careers, Morehouse College; Theresa Alvillar-Speake, director, DOE Office of Minority Economic Impact; and Dr. Orbach.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 27, 2007 — A new joint initiative between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Morehouse College will assist students in the College's science programs, and promote research collaboration at both institutions.

The ORNL-Morehouse Mentor Protégé Agreement -- the first such agreement between a historically black college or university and a Department of Energy Office of Science lab -- was recognized today in a brief ceremony at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Raymond L. Orbach, Under Secretary for Science, and Director of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said the event marks an important relationship between DOE and an Historically Black College and University (HBCU), one of mutual respect and support. Other key DOE programs include the Research Alliance in Mathematics and Science (RAMS) at ORNL and Directly Funded Universities.

"Improving research and educational opportunities for students traditionally underrepresented in science is important to DOE, and to our nation," Orbach said. "Teaming a leading U.S. liberal arts college with a leading Office of Science Laboratory is an educational initiative that will help produce the scientific workforce our country needs for intellectual and economic leadership in the 21st century."

ORNL Director Thom Mason said the Morehouse connection will help ORNL's workforce pipeline for recruiting young talent and promote research collaborations.

"ORNL is a world class science laboratory, and we consider a strong commitment to diversity to be an integral part of that world class designation," Mason said. "We are very pleased to establish this relationship with such an outstanding academic institution and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Morehouse."

ORNL mentors in the program include Martin Keller, director of the DOE Bioenergy Science Center established in June by a $125 million DOE award; and Jeff Nichols, director of Computer Sciences and Mathematics in the Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate, which houses the world's second most powerful supercomputer.

David V. Taylor, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Morehouse, said student interns and college faculty will benefit from experience with ORNL's state-of-the-art research facilities, modern laboratory equipment, and expert science staff.

"The mentor-protégé relationship with ORNL gives our students and faculty access to some of the top scientific personnel, programs and facilities in the world," Taylor said. "This is a tremendous opportunity for Morehouse, and we intend to make the best of it."

Taylor said the agreement is among a number of recent Morehouse science endeavors, such as the college's new Bioinformatics Program and ongoing successes of its dual-degree engineering program. Located in Atlanta, Morehouse, a four-year liberal arts school noted for it excellent academic reputation, enrolls about 3000 students and is the only all male historically black institution of higher learning in the United States. The college's graduation rate of science and engineering majors is 32 percent, which is twice the national average (per Rising above the Gathering Storm, National Academy of Science).

Ranked No. 1 three times in a row by Black Enterprise Magazine as the best school for African Americans for undergraduate study, its prestige has led to it often being dubbed as the "black Harvard University" or "Harvard of the South."

A recent Wall Street Journal study ranked the college among the top 50 feeder schools to the nation's best graduate programs in business, medicine and law. Founded in 1867, Morehouse offers dual degree programs with Georgia Tech, Boston University, Columbia, Rensselaer School of Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology, and other top schools. Other Morehouse College connections with DOE and ORNL include:

• Former Morehouse President Walter Massey, who retired June 30, also headed the National Science Foundation and Argonne National Laboratory. He was succeeded July 1 by Robert Michael Franklin, Morehouse' 10th president.

• J.P Brown, director of Morehouse' Office for Research Careers, conducted postdoctoral studies at ORNL in biochemistry and is among several the college's employees with ORNL connections. ORNL is a multiprogram science laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for DOE. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research over a wide range of key scientific areas related to energy, environment, materials, national security and other applications.

ORNL's Mentor-Protégé Program is part of a DOE initiative designed to encourage and help small businesses perform contracts and subcontracts for ORNL. In addition to HBCUs and minority educational institutions, program participants include small disadvantaged businesses, and those owned by women or service-disabled veterans.

UT-Battelle was named a 2007 Top Supporter of HBCUs by U.S. Black Engineer and Technology Magazine and recently won a DOE Small Business Award with a business protégé, Management Solutions.

UTB also subcontracted more than 270 women-owned small businesses totaling $45.1 million to win the 2007 Frances Perkins Vanguard Award for excellence in the use of women-owned small businesses.

For more information on Morehouse, go to: http://www.morehouse.edu The ORNL Web site is at: http://www.ornl.gov/ The DOE Office of Science Web site is at: http://www.sc.doe.gov/.