UC regents appoint vice president of UC national laboratories

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Dr. Craig Leasure, a long-standing leader at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, will assume his position as vice president of the Office of National Laboratories Oct. 1.

Leasure became interim vice president in February and was announced vice president seven months later.

“It’s a very positive thing for the University of California,” said UC Davis chemical engineering professor Robert Powell.  “He’s got great experience both at Los Alamos and has a really deep knowledge of the Department of Energy.”

The vice president — responsible for the oversight of the University of California’s three national labs — will continue the laboratories’ collaboration with the federal government on nuclear security and their ongoing research in energy, health, environment and infrastructure, according to UC President Janet Napolitano in an official press release.

Leasure’s new role will involve maintaining relationships between the UC labs and both state and federal governments. He will oversee business operations, compliance and stewardship at the three national laboratories. In addition, he will manage the UC system’s research across science, technology and engineering while coordinating between the UC Board of Regents and the UC Office of the President.

According to Powell, Leasure held key positions at the Los Alamos Laboratory for nearly 30 years. At Los Alamos, he served as the principal associate director for operations and business. According to Powell, Leasure was hired when the University of California was the sole manager of Los Alamos. Now, Powell said the UC system is in a “really great place” with Leasure’s appointment.

Before his positions at the University of California, Leasure worked for Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Company at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility, according to the press release. There, he managed major operations in science and engineering that included explosive and chemical testing.

Leasure was appointed as vice president by a search committee led by Napolitano and composed of leaders across the university system and the national laboratories. Powell, a member of this committee, said Leasure has “a deep sense of what these laboratories are about and how important they are” and his position is “of tremendous importance to the nation.”

Mike Witherell, the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said he respects Leasure’s laboratory expertise and capabilities, according to the press release.  Witherell added that Leasure is a “perfect fit for this role” because of his extensive experience in these areas.

“I am incredibly honored to be given this opportunity at such an important time in our nation,” Leasure said in the press release. “I look forward to continuing to work even more closely with my colleagues at the UC-affiliated labs, as well as supporting the world-class research we conduct as part of our public service mission.”

Sasha Langholz is a research and ideas reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LangholzSasha‏.