Thursday, August 21, 2008

News: New UIC Urban Transportation Center Interm Director

Dear Colleagues,

As of August 16, 2008, Emeritus Professor Siim Sööt will become interim director of Urban Transportation Center (subject to University of Illinois Board of Trustee approval). Associate Professor Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah will step down on August 15, 2008 from the interim director post she had held for three years. UIC and CUPPA are grateful for the strong leadership and commitment Vonu provided to UTC’s future.

Siim Sööt is no stranger to UTC, or to UIC. He was hired at UIC in 1970 to teach and enhance the university’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) courses. According to Siim, UIC was the first university to offer a one-year sequence of courses on GIS, currently used in a wide variety of applications and used as the basis for services such as Mapquest and route navigation systems in vehicles.

Since then, Siim has held a variety of positions at UIC ranging from assistant professor in the Department of Geography to head of the same department. He has also held several visiting professor posts at home and abroad including Chalmers Technical University - Sweden, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

In 1996, Siim served as president of the Illinois Universities Transportation Research Consortium (IUTRC), a post he held until 2006. The consortium includes Northwestern University, UIC, Illinois Institute of Technology, and UIUC. Also beginning in 1996, he began a formal leadership role at UTC first as associate and then director until 2000.

During his career, Siim has spoken to hundreds of groups and organizations, participated in countless press interviews including Time Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor, has served as an expert witness in many cases and studies, and has been granted several millions of dollars to conduct his research.

Currently, Siim’s research focuses on the association between transportation, land use and home ownership (urban sprawl). He is also working on ways to deliver transportation services to disadvantaged populations.

I am pleased to have Siim step up to a leadership role at UTC once again and look forward to working with him and the entire staff of UTC in the coming year.

Michael A. Pagano, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs
University of Illinois at Chicago

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