Local Communities Hear From Univ.Of Texas About Possible Partnership

by Staff Reporter / Oct 24, 2017 / comments
University of Texas consultant Susan Rogers chats with San Ildefonso Pueblo Governor James Mountain at a Coalition of LANL Communities Board meeting in Española San Ildefonso Pueblo is in the process of joining the coalition. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

Local Communities Hear From Univ.Of Texas About Possible Partnership

By MAIRE O’NEILL, with contributions from Valley Daily Post staff writers. maire@ladailypost.com

At a quarterly meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Board, held a week ago Friday in Española City Hall, a representative of the University of Texas (UT) told local county, city and tribal leaders that the Texas based university is submitting a bid to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, and if successful in winning the bid, looks forward to close partnerships with local communities and institutions.

Susan Rogers, a longtime former UT staff member and now a consultant said the potential new responsibility offers a great opportunity in terms of research, visibility and industry partnerships for the UT System and its institutions, faculty and students.

Rogers said that most importantly, the Lab must play a significant role in the community that is its home.

“Were we to win the bid, UT would commit to undertake a position of engagement and responsible stewardship,” including working with local communities, she said. “Every day, UT institutions demonstrate their expertise in assembling and leading effective teams in the name of greater good. These teams include the most brilliant minds in the world working in partnerships with public a private entities both non-profit and for profit. We would bring that expertise to Los Alamos on behalf of our nation and use it to benefit your communities.”

Rogers said the UT system comprises 14 institutions that include among their asset an operating nuclear reactor in service since 1963 and a BioSafety level 4 lab – the Galveston National Laboratory – that came through the recent hurricanes without incident or interruption of its work on high-hazard materials such as Ebola virus.

In operation since 1945, Rogers said the UT Applied Research Laboratories are the key developers of sonar equipment for the U.S. Navy and just received a $1 billion contract from the Navy to conduct research and development to improve national security. She added that in the past 10 years, researchers across the UT system have worked on projects funded by the Department of Energy in partnership with national labs including Sandia, Argonne, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos.

“We believe the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory must be laser-focused on safely and securely providing world-class technical capabilities that assure the maintenance and readiness of the nation’s nuclear weapons in service to the national security enterprise,” Rogers said.

Coalition board members that include Rio Arriba County, the City of Española, Ohkay Owingeh, the City and County of Santa Fe, the town and county of Taos, Los Alamos County, and other tribal members commended the University of Texas for actively reaching out to the communities seeking input.

Board Chair Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said UT is clearly showing a strong desire to be a part of the LANL community. He said the board members would all actively be watching the contract process and he hoped DOE would make the best decision in the interest of the country and the “incredibly wonderful people that call Northern New Mexico their home”.