College Station – Dr. Dennis L. Christiansen, deputy director of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) since 1993, was named the sole finalist for the position of director of TTI Friday in a unanimous vote by the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System.
He succeeds Dr. Herbert H. Richardson, who is retiring after 22 years of service to the A&M System, 13 years as director of the Institute and nine years in other leadership positions at the A&M System, including chancellor, and dean and vice chancellor of engineering and director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.
Christiansen has spent most of his career at TTI, beginning in 1972 as an assistant research engineer, and working his way up in the organization as associate research engineer and program manager, research engineer and division head, associate director, and most recently agency deputy director. As deputy director, he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Institute.
An international expert in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, Christiansen pioneered the HOV lane concept in Houston and oversaw its development and implementation. His research in HOV lanes has been utilized throughout the country and had made a significant impact on the effectiveness of the transportation system in Texas and elsewhere, saving communities tens of millions of dollars and significantly improving traffic movement.
“Dr. Christiansen is a proven leader and has dedicated his career to the advancement of TTI,” said John D. White, chairman of the Board of Regents. “He has the confidence of the TTI leadership and staff and we believe he is the right individual to lead the agency into the next phase of its growth and development.”
Christiansen graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M University.
A registered Professional Engineer in Texas, Christiansen has received numerous awards in the field of transportation, including the S. S. Steinberg Award from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and a research excellence award from the HOV Systems Committee of that organization. He has also received recognitions from the International Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Texas section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. In 2004, he was selected as a Regents Fellow by the A&M System Board of Regents.
Christiansen has served in leadership positions with the Council of University Transportation Centers, International Institute of Transportation Engineers, and Transportation Research Board, among others. He currently serves on the board of directors of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the College Station Planning and Zoning Commission. He is the author of two books and numerous reports and publications about various facets of transportation and traffic engineering.
The responsibilities of the director of the Institute are to serve as the CEO of this state research agency, providing visionary leadership to the research, service, educational and administrative functions of the agency. The director is also charged with mobilizing and allocating resources effectively; creating synergy between TTI and its academic, public and private sector collaborators and constituencies; and ensuring the recruitment and development of an outstanding cadre of staff and students.
TTI is the largest and most comprehensive transportation research organization affiliated with higher education in the nation. The Institute employs approximately 600 people, including about 200 graduate and undergraduate students, and has an annual budget of more than $46 million. With headquarters in College Station, TTI has six urban offices in the largest Texas cities and divisions at 10 regional Texas universities.
The Board of Regents may consider the appointment of Christiansen to the TTI director’s position after the 21 days required by state law for public notice of the appointment with the Texas Secretary of State.