After a national search, Austin Oakes has been selected as the new University of Tennessee executive director of capital projects.
Oakes currently serves as the assistant vice president for facilities management at the University of the South. He will begin his new duties at UT on Jan. 1.
“I’m excited to join the UT System, and look forward to serving this community as we work together to create living and learning environments where students are prepared to become leaders in our global society,” Oakes said.
David Miller, UT senior vice president and chief financial officer, said Oakes will join a highly talented team of design and management professionals. Miller also thanked Michelle Crowder who has served as the interim executive director. She will now serve in a new role as the senior director of capital planning.
Oakes will oversee facilities planning, capital budget, and real property and space administration, including managing the design and construction of major capital projects across the UT System. The office of capital projects also coordinates activities and obtains approvals from the State Building Commission, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.
In 2018, Oakes joined the University of the South overseeing the campus’ planning and management, including facilities management, rental housing, motor pool and fleet management. While there, he established a deferred capital renewal program, including a campus inspection program and facilities condition assessment survey. He furthered energy conservation goals and received recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy for reducing energy consumption.
He previously served at Pepperdine University, beginning work there as a project coordinator in construction and campus planning in 2007. He worked his way up at the university to executive director of planning, operations and construction, a position he held until 2018. During his work at Pepperdine, he led the planning and implementation of a $1 billion capital campaign, which included about 300,000 square feet of student residential and recreation buildings. He also established a $10 million wildfire and storm water preparedness infrastructure as well as led a $3 million around-the-clock recovery and slope stabilization operation after the 2018 Woolsey Fire. Other projects included directing the $500 million Pepperdine Campus Life Project, which included design of the $140 million University Event Center as well as overseeing the $74 million construction of the new Seaside Residence Hall.
Oakes earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Pepperdine University in 2007 and a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University in 2013. He also earned at Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2013.