Oak Ridge Associated Universities
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersOak Ridge, Tennessee
150+ colleges and universities
Andy Page
Formerly called
Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS)

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is a consortium of American universities headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with offices in Arvada, Colorado, Cincinnati, Ohio, and staff at other locations across the country.


Eleanor Roosevelt (center) and William G. Pollard watch as Nurse Mary Sutliff demonstrates a radiation counter during Roosevelt's 1955 visit to the Oak Ridge cancer research hospital. (Photo by Ed Westcott)

The organization was first established in 1946 as the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS) with 14 university members. Its original purpose was to advance science and technology education and research by providing access to the atomic energy research facilities of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to faculty and students of universities across the South.[1] The Institute also served to provide access to university faculty for ORNL researchers, arranging for University of Tennessee faculty to teach master's and doctoral courses in chemistry, math, and physics in Oak Ridge using ORNL facilities, equipment, and supplies.[2] University of Tennessee faculty member William G. Pollard developed the institution from a suggestion by ORNL physicist Katharine Way; Pollard would be elected the Institute's first executive director, a position he would hold until 1974.[1][3] The name Oak Ridge Associated Universities was adopted in 1966.[4]

In 1950, ORINS opened a hospital where it conducted clinical research for the United States Atomic Energy Commission on the use of radiation and radioactive materials in cancer treatment. The hospital treated patients until the mid-1970s.[2] ORINS also conducted training courses in radioisotopes and established resident training programs in nuclear medicine. In the 1980s, clinical research at ORINS was the subject of investigation by the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.

The Institute for Energy Analysis was organized as a unit of ORAU in January 1974, under the leadership of former Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Alvin Weinberg. This institute's focus was evaluation of alternatives for meeting future energy requirements. From 1976 until it ceased operation with Weinberg's retirement in 1984, the Institute for Energy Analysis was a center for study of diverse issues related to carbon dioxide and global climate.

In the mid-1970s, ORAU operated the Training And Technology (TAT) Project, an effort at providing marketable technical skills to the disadvantaged unemployed. TAT taught basic sciences as well as technical skill concentrations, such as welding, machining, mechanical operations, drafting and physical testing. Employment search assistance was provided to trainees to integrate with regional industrial company opportunities.

The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) was established by ORAU in 1976 to provide onsite emergency medical services, advice, and consultation for incidents involving radiation anywhere in the world.

Current mission and programs

ORAU's mission continues to be the advancement of scientific research and education. ORAU operates the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) under contract to the Department of Energy. ORISE provides operational capabilities dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.

Health physics and epidemiology continue to be major areas of activity for ORAU. Activities include radiological surveys, dose reconstruction, and health screening for workers who may have been exposed to radioactive material, or other toxins. Since 1948, ORAU has also provided radiation safety and health physics training through its Professional Training Programs (PTP).


ORAU defines two levels of membership, "sponsoring institution" and "associate member." Sponsoring institutions must be non-profit, accredited universities granting doctoral degrees in relevant fields ("complementary to the interests of ORAU members and/or the programs of ORAU itself"), and either among the top schools in the US by Carnegie Classification or National Science Foundation research spending, or have offered doctoral degrees in multiple STEM fields for at least five years. Associate members are not required to be non-profit, but must be accredited and offer graduate degrees in at least two science, engineering, or math fields; be recommended by an existing sponsoring institution or ORAU program; and receive a significant amount of NSF or other federal research funding.[5]

The ORAU consortium comprises more than 150 sponsoring institutions and 26 associate members, as of April 2023.[6] Several institutions (31 as of April 2023) are additionally members of ORAU's Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Research Council, created to foster "relationships between these schools" serving historically disadvantaged communities in the US "and some of the larger laboratories and research universities in America", and increase participation by members of minority communities in scientific research.[7]

Sponsoring institutions

Associate members

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Member of ORAU's MSI Research Council[7]


  1. ^ a b Smith, D. Ray; Krause, Carolyn (Dec 6, 2016). "Historically Speaking: Katherine [sic] Way and her influence on Oak Ridge". The Oak Ridger. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2017. [Katharine] Way suggested to William Pollard, a former colleague and physics faculty member at the University of Tennessee, that the extensive and unique facilities of ORNL should be made available to the faculty and students of Southern universities. Pollard, a nuclear physicist, author and Episcopal priest, embraced the idea and founded the institute.
  2. ^ a b Bonee, Pam (February 23, 2011). "Oak Ridge Associated Universities". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Nashville and Knoxville, TN: Tennessee Historical Society and the University of Tennessee Press. Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Oak Ridge Post Filled". The New York Times. Associated Press. 23 June 1974. p. 22. Archived from the original on 23 July 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2017. Philip L. Johnson has been named executive director of Oak Ridge Associated Universities to succeed Dr. William G. Pollard.
  4. ^ "The ORAU Story: a brief history of ORAU from 1946 to present". www.orau.org. Archived from the original on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Criteria for membership in the ORAU university consortium". www.orau.org. 2023. Archived from the original on April 16, 2023. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  6. ^ "Directory of ORAU Consortium Member Universities". www.orau.org. 2023. Archived from the original on April 15, 2023. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  7. ^ a b "ORAU MSI Research Council". www.orau.org. Archived from the original on April 17, 2023. Retrieved April 25, 2023. What America's historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving education institutions may lack in material resources for scientific research, they more than make up for in talent, ingenuity and expertise. ORAU recognizes these capabilities and places a high priority on building relationships between these schools and some of the larger laboratories and research universities in America.