Richard T. Romer Student Endowment Fund
The Student Endowment Fund was founded in 2004 to provide a stable source of funding for the District’s Student Initiatives Program with the goal of eventually accruing $500,000. Each year, over $15,000, paid from the Endowment Fund, is spent on student initiatives with the objective of attracting the best and brightest to the transportation profession in the west. The future of the transportation profession depends upon a stable and continuing flow of students who are excited and passionate in the career opportunities afforded by transportation engineering and planning.
The District’s Student Initiatives annually include:
- Support for the Student Leadership Summit ($1,000)
- Funding for the Data Collection Fund ($1,000/project for 5 projects)
- Funding ($1,500) and awards ($300) for the James H. Kell competition held at the Western District Annual Meeting
- Support of travel for our winning Student Traffic Bowl team to the ITE International Meeting ($1,000)
- Support of travel to the ITE International Meeting if a Western District student chapter wins the International Student Chapter Award ($1,000)
- Awards for student chapter annual reports ($100/report for 25 reports)
- Awards for our student paper winner ($500), outstanding graduate ($500) and undergraduate ($500) students, and outstanding student chapter ($1,000) at the Western District Annual Meeting
- Sponsoring special events for students and professionals ($250)
Prior to the inception of the Endowment Fund, these student programs were modestly funded utilizing existing annual operating and annual meeting budgets. This limited the scope of the programs and resulted in the use of operating reserves. In an effort to avoid increasing dues and to assure continuous, stable funding for the current and future student initiatives, the Student Endowment Fund was established to provide a self-sustaining funding source for these programs.
In Fall 2016, the Endowment Fund officially closed the gap and reached its $500,000 goal. The Endowment Fund is now self-sustaining and generates enough annual revenue to support the current Student Initiatives. Upon reaching this goal, the Western District Board voted to expand its Student Initiatives Program by $3,000 annually beginning in 2017.
The District’s newest Student Initiative is $2,000 in annual Regional Travel Scholarships for students to attend the District’s Annual Meeting, starting with the 2017 Annual Meeting in San Diego. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide financial support for one student from each of four regions (North, East, South, and West), and each recipient will receive $500. The Western District aims to achieve more regional diversity in the students attending our meetings by providing travel assistance to students who may not have otherwise attended.
Additionally, the Endowment Fund currently supports five projects for the Data Collection Fund. Every year, we have significantly more student chapters applying for these projects than funding is available. Starting in Fall 2017, an additional $1,000 will be included in the Data Collection Fund to support a sixth data collection project.
The Student Endowment Fund was renamed the Richard T. Romer Student Endowment Fund in 2013. Richard T. Romer believed in right and wrong, in doing things the correct way without cutting corners, and that ethics were of the utmost importance for public safety and the integrity of any profession. Fittingly, Rich worked as a transportation engineer and had over 41 years of experience in the profession. During this time he served on numerous committees, held elected office at all levels including International President in 2006, and won numerous awards including the Burton W. Marsh Distinguished Service Award and the James L. Pline Award. In addition, Rich led generations of young engineers to continue along his path. He instilled the importance of balancing professional workload with contributions to the professional societies to further grow the transportation profession. There are many engineers who can trace their careers back to Rich and thank him for the path he started them on. The purpose of the Western District Student Endowment Fund is to ensure a “stable and continuing flow of students who are excited and passionate in the career opportunities afforded by transportation engineering and planning.” In the spirit of this mission, ITE recognizes Richard T. Romer by renaming the Student Endowment Fund after an engineer who left behind a legacy of well-trained, well-educated, and enthusiastic ITE professionals.