This is my final issue of the Texas Transportation Researcher as agency director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have followed and supported the Institute over many years. The most enjoyable part of being TTI’s director has been having the opportunity to work with, and get to know, a lot of wonderful people.
My successor will be Greg Winfree. Greg is stepping down as assistant U.S. secretary of transportation to accept this position. Greg brings a proven record of leadership and a network of contacts, all of which will be extremely valuable to TTI. Greg has been a good friend of mine for several years, and he is an excellent choice to step in and lead the Institute. I could not be more pleased.
Life can take some interesting turns. I arrived in College Station in 1971 to work on a master’s degree. My firm plan was to get that degree and be out of College Station in 18 months. Somehow those plans got derailed, as 45 years later, I am retiring from The Texas A&M University System.
And it was TTI and the TTI people that derailed those plans. This really is a special place. My predecessors as TTI director — people with names like Benson, Keese, Wootan and Richardson — created an organization and a culture that attracts smart, entrepreneurial researchers. We owe so much to the early leaders who established that culture and set the course for the Institute.
In the 1940s, two long-time transportation leaders in the state, Dewitt Greer and Gibb Gilchrist, had a vision that the universities should be a valuable partner with the (then) Texas Highway Department to build the best and safest system of roads in the world. That vision led to the creation of the Texas Transportation Institute in 1950 as the official research arm of the Highway Department. It also led to the establishment of the best state department of transportation research program in the United States. As they say, the rest is history.
The success of the TTI research program is all about our people. The talent that has been assembled at TTI is, quite simply, incredible. We have a breadth and depth of capability unmatched in university transportation research. We have dozens of staff who are recognized national experts in their fields and have chosen to be associated with TTI. This is, by far, our greatest strength and what assures our success going forward.
The word unique is very overused, but TTI in many respects truly is unique. TTI will do well going forward because of the expertise, facilities and people we have, and because we are a member of The Texas A&M University System with its vast research capabilities. And, even better, the need for what we do is greater than it ever has been.
A sincere thank-you for all you have done to support us over many years. Let’s stay in touch.