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Deborah Crawford

Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, & Economic Development



Crawford joined the university in August 2020, and is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the full range of the university’s research, innovation, and economic development programs, and raising the university’s national and international reputation as a leading public research university.

Deborah works with UT faculty, staff and students to strengthen the institution’s contributions to research, scholarship and creative work, from the very fundamental through translation and implementation. Deeply committed to the integration of research and education, she understands that the university’s research portfolio must drive innovations in its academic programs, ensuring that every Vol has learning opportunities at the very frontier of knowledge. Deborah harnesses the power of partnerships to advance UT’s research ambitions, and to ensure that the institution’s research outcomes make life and lives better for the citizens of Tennessee and others far beyond. She is an advocate for entrepreneurship and innovation, promoting the translation of research outcomes into new and established organizations, including new deep tech ventures incubated and accelerated in the university’s programs. Crawford is a champion for place-based innovation, joining with partners in the region and throughout Tennessee to ensure that UT research and education programs lead to a more just, prosperous and sustainable future for diverse Tennessee communities.

She has served on numerous boards and committees, including the boards of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the Southeastern Universities Research Association, the Cherokee Farm Development Corporation, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, and many others.

Prior to joining UT, Crawford served in leadership roles at George Mason University, the International Computer Science Institute, and Drexel University. She worked at the National Science Foundation for 17 years, where she held a number of executive positions.

She has a PhD in Information Systems Engineering from the University of Bradford and a BS (Honors) in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Glasgow.