Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Senior Research Scientist David R. Ellis was honored with a Regents Fellow Service Award by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Jan. 16. The board of regents established this award in 1998 to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.
Ellis’s 38 years of public service experience include 32 years in leadership positions at TTI, Texas A&M University’s Center for Housing and Urban Development in the College of Architecture, the Texas State Data Center, the Texas Department of Commerce and the private sector. He has made significant contributions to the state in the area of transportation finance and tax policy, as well as the economic impact of transportation investment, while sharing his knowledge and expertise with Texas A&M University students as a member of the graduate faculty of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning in the College of Architecture.
“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award. I have been blessed to work with so many incredibly talented people during my career at TTI — all of them a lot smarter than me,” says Ellis. “I’m continually amazed by the cool stuff this organization does. Beyond all that though, I just had fun being around a bunch of great friends every day.”
Beginning his work at TTI with the Mobility Analysis Program in 2000, Ellis served on several TTI projects that resulted in significant new transportation investment in Texas, including the landmark 2030 Needs Analysis commissioned by the Texas Department of Transportation. In addition, he developed the web-based TRENDS Model to project transportation revenues in Texas, which has since become the method by which transportation funding alternatives are assessed by local and state agencies and policymakers across the state.
After he became the initial program manager of TTI’s Infrastructure Investment Analysis Program (IIA) in 2008, it grew from one employee to nine research scientists and graduate students in 2017. During this time he also served as the finance area leader for TTI’s Transportation Policy Research Center and was responsible for the overall management of all research projects related to transportation finance requested by members of the Texas Legislature.
Ellis’s distinguished record of outreach, leadership, teaching and service also includes the following:
- Authored or co-authored over 50 publications, including a graduate-level college textbook.
- Testified as an expert witness over 70 times before various legislative committees in both the Texas House and Texas Senate, informing state leaders of the impacts of investments and policies.
- Gave over 200 invited presentations and speeches throughout the United States and elsewhere on various aspects of transportation in venues ranging from high school classrooms to international conferences.
- Served as public address announcer for 24 years for various Texas A&M intercollegiate athletic events, including several national championships, the play-by-play voice-over for Texas A&M Soccer on the SEC Network, and as announcer at Texas A&M graduation ceremonies.
“Everyone in transportation in Texas is aware of David’s impact on major state policy decisions, but few have witnessed his incomparable mentoring of dozens of professionals, whose impacts will be felt long into the future,” says TTI Agency Deputy Director Bill Stockton. “That is David’s legacy.”