Tompkins Named Interim Research Foundation Director

KNOXVILLE — Dr. Fred D. Tompkins, professor and interim dean of the College of Engineering, has been named interim executive director of the newly formed University of Tennessee Research Foundation.

Tompkins will oversee daily operations of UTRF, established in April by UT’s Board of Trustees as a

Dr. Fred D. Tompkins

non-profit corporation to commercialize UT research and technology.

The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation several years ago to authorize the creation of the Research Foundation, but the initiative was dormant until the arrival of UT President John W. Shumaker.

“UTRF represents a viable option for the university to diversify its revenue sources beyond state funding and student tuition and fees,” Shumaker said. “An aggressive, flexible service for marketing and commercialization of UT research and intellectual property will help propel the university research community to the next level.

“Dr. Tompkins’ wealth of experience in engineering, research and technology transfer will help ensure this new research enterprise successfully accomplishes its goals,” Shumaker said.

Those goals include improving administrative services for research and technology transfer, cultivating public and private research opportunities, creating UT technology-based companies and contributing to Tennessee’s economic development, Shumaker said.

UTRF objectives such as technology transfer, business start-ups and economic development are also goals of the Scorecard 2010, which Shumaker created to track university progress.

Tompkins said UTRF replaces the UT Research Corporation, formed in 1934 to license UT intellectual properties.

“The UT Research Foundation will improve Tennessee’s economy by supporting research development and creating technology-related businesses,” Tompkins said. “I am very pleased that President Shumaker has asked me to lead this initiative aimed at growing the university’s overall research enterprise and expanding the university’s contribution to economic development in our state.”

Tompkins joined the university as a faculty member in the then-Department of Agricultural Engineering in 1974. He became full professor in 1984, and was named department head in 1991. Tompkins served as a professor and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services and Associate Dean for Administration, Graduate Education and Research, respectively, in the College of Engineering from 1994 to November 2001. He was named interim dean in December 2001.

He has received five college and university-wide awards for excellence in teaching, including the W.S. Overton Distinguished Professorship, the Allen and Hoshall Outstanding Teaching Award, and the UT Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award.

Tompkins served on the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) Building Planning and Utilization Task Force and currently sits on the Board of Directors of NTRC, Inc. He was the academic program facilitator for the Technopreneurial Leadership Center, a two-year academic and economic development initiative that resulted in the chartering of 13 new corporations in East Tennessee.

He is a member of the Advisory Board for Fairview Technology Center, a Knox County Economic Development incubator facility for start-up companies, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Knox Area Chamber Partnership, where he is a member of the Economic Development Committee.

Tompkins, who earned his B.S. in 1971 and Ph.D. in 1974 at the University of Tennessee, is a professor of biosystems engineering and a registered professional engineer licensed in Tennessee.