Richard P. Braun, the founding director of CTS and a champion of transportation innovation, died this week at the age of 91.
Braun was the sole employee of CTS when it opened its doors in 1987. During his tenure, CTS issued its first request for proposals to University researchers, formed an advisory structure, and held its first annual research conference. In addition, two federally funded programs began operations as part of CTS: the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute (a federal University Transportation Center) and the Minnesota Technology Transfer Program (now the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program). Braun retired as director in 1994.
“The CTS family mourns the loss of our founding director, Dick Braun,” says CTS Director Laurie McGinnis. “Thirty years ago, the University of Minnesota established the Center to bridge a gap Dick identified while serving as MnDOT Commissioner. He recognized that it was critical to strengthen the connection between the professionals working in the department and the faculty conducting transportation research at the University. This partnership and collaboration launched Minnesota’s reputation as an incubator for transportation innovation, a designation that remains true today. We will always remember Dick for his vision and are grateful that he remained engaged with the Center for the rest of his life.”
In 2006, CTS collaborated with the Department of Civil Engineering (now Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) to establish the Richard P. Braun/CTS Chair in Transportation Engineering. The purpose of the endowed faculty chair is to foster innovation in the academic program in transportation engineering.
CTS also presents the annual Richard P. Braun Distinguished Service Award in honor of Braun’s leadership and contribution to research.
Before being named CTS director, Braun served as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation from 1979–86. He also held a variety of high-level positions with state and national organizations, including chair of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Airports Commission.
A celebration of Braun’s life will be held June 18 at the University of Minnesota. For more information, please visit www.RichardBraun.net. Memorial donations to U of MN Foundation; Braun CTS Scholarship; P.O. Box 860266; Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266.
Read more about Braun’s life and legacy in the Star Tribune.