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, at which point the fund would be self-sustaining. Each year, over $12,000, 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.
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Student Initiatives Program
The Student Endowment Fund annually supports the following Student Initiatives:
- Funding for the Data Collection Fund ($1,000/project for 4 projects)
- Awards for the Student Chapter and Student Chapter Momentum winners at the Western District Annual Meeting ($1,000/award for 2 awards)
- Funding for the James H. Kell competition held at the Western District Annual Meeting ($1,500)
- Awards for the Student Paper, Outstanding Graduate Student, and Outstanding Undergraduate Student winners at the Western District Annual Meeting ($500/award for 3 awards)
- Student Regional Travel Scholarships to attend the Western District Annual Meeting ($500/student for 2 students)
- Support for the Student Leadership Summit ($1,000)
- Travel support for the winning Student Traffic Bowl team to the ITE International Meeting ($1,000)
- Sponsoring special events for students and professionals ($250)
History of the Student Endowment Fund
2004: Founding of the Western District Student Endowment Fund
Prior to the inception of the Student Endowment Fund, the Western District’s 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.
2013: Renaming of the Student Endowment Fund
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 recognized 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.
2016: Student Endowment Fund reaches $500,000 goal
In 2014, the Student Endowment Fund reached the $400,000 milestone, which was quickly followed by the $440,000 milestone a year later. The “Close the Gap” campaign was announced in 2016, and the Endowment Fund officially reached its $500,000 goal that Fall, therefore making the fund self-sustaining and generating enough annual revenue to support the existing Student Initiatives. Upon reaching this milestone, the Western District Board voted to expand its Student Initiatives Program by $3,000 annually with new travel scholarships and a sixth data collection project in the Data Collection Fund.
2017: Introduction of the Regional Travel Scholarships
The District’s newest Student Initiative was an annual Regional Travel Scholarship 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 region. 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.
2020: New Western District Boundaries
With the creation of a new Mountain District from a portion of the existing Western District as part of the ONE ITE Initiative, the Student Endowment Fund was distributed equitably based on the proportion of student membership located within each District, with 73% in the Western District and 27% in the Mountain District. To reflect the redistribution of student chapters, the funding for the Western District’s various Student Initiatives was also adjusted. In addition, the name of the fund was reverted back to the Student Endowment Fund.